DIRECTOR:                    DENNIS ARCAND
COUNTRY:                    CANADA 1991
SUPER FEATURES:       Knowledgeable, and well written, story.


It was a final nominee for best foreign film of the year in the March of 1992 Oscar race, and it didn't win because Journey of Hope was a much stronger film in the stomach wrenching stakes, where Jesus of Montreal tends to get to a point where it doesn't know how to end, what begun as a very nice piece of work by a dedicated Bible scholar and film maker.

This film is not for Christian fanatics who don't like literature and history, as this film makes sure people know the difference between life and theatre, and yet, it is this medium which sends this film flying.

It is a reminder, if not a tribute, to the late Joseph Papp, who used to do Shakespeare around Manhattan, the same way,... by having the actors live it all out through the whole day, in different locations. Here, the actors begin doing a passion play in a local park, at the bequest of a local Catholic church, and end up doing much more through out the city, until its size becomes a threat to the church officials. Even the devil is portrayed as a gung ho agent, lawyer, accountant, who knows much can be made here. Heck, with a good promoter, have you any idea what the real Jesus could have done? Scary premise. It is a question Jesus of Montreal is asked by this guy.

The play starts out innocently enough, and the actors involved begin to get into their roles seriously, as the material is indeed, very serious. When the play gets bigger than life, the church begins trying to close it, despite the hypocrisies ( the priest sleeping with the leading actress playing Mary Magdalene ,... clever,... ) the news media is now enjoying the dramatic endeavor and the lead actors strange, and powerful ability. It becomes the toast of town, to the chagrin of the church, which closes the play on the spot, immediately after a very successful outing. The lead actor is serious. And the priest is having anxiety problems. The actor is killed by an accident stemming from an over eager police force preventing the public to see the play. A large pole ( looking like one that would have been used for a cross ) falls on the actor killing him. The priest has a heart attack. They end up in separate hospitals ( Jesus in a modern day hospital, and the priest in a catholic hospital ) but the actors' heart ends up in the priest's body to give him a second chance. He gets up one day, saying, that he had a dream  and that he wanted to do a play,... a passion play. And the film closes.

The premise is clear. The church authorities refuse to accept history, as they feel they wrote it, the way it should have been, with all the miracles and events. Scientific discoveries are finding that the writings are far from the truth, specially now that the Dead Sea Scrolls are available, even though church authorities have denied its originality, and proceeded to denounce those who continue studying it. There were fourteen books found, and only three have been translated, and many years later, the Vatican libraries have all this stuff buried in their basement. Why don't they fess up. Even their own cardinals don't know what all of what is down there. It is a form of work like the Sean Connery film.

The acting is unusual, in that one finds in the early stages a satirical tone towards theatre in general, with over acting, 'ham'ing, and lack of general direction. It ends up taking all those bits, and putting them in the correct place, and making a heck of a film while at it.

Should see it.

If you are an open minded Christian, this film is for you. And by the way, the history does not deny Christianity. It just validates it as a faith
based on truth and a strong spirit. Not the ideas of man, which was Jesus' real fight. The ideas of man meaning the written down doctrines, which had nothing to do with the real spirit of man.

An idea, is not the same as a real vision.





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