Adaptation of Divinity in the Film The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is a film that meticulously depicts the life of Jesus as told by youngest disciple of Jesus. The film is directed by British filmmaker Philip Saville and narrated by Golden Globe nominee Christopher Plummer. In addition, Jesus is portrayed through the Peruvian-Scottish actor Henry Ian Cusick. The film was released on September 26, 2003 throughout the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The structure of the movie truly adhered to the story as told by Disciple John such that the movie delivered word-for-word of the English version of the New Testament.

As part of the Visual Bible Project, the film followed the Gospel accurately without adding or ignoring passages. Gospels are stories told with the purpose of describing the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. There is a total of four gospel books in the New Testament that reflect different ideas and images of Jesus. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke are similar to one another such that they are referred to as synoptic gospels meaning they have the same view on a lot of matters. However, the Gospel of John stands apart from the three gospels because Disciple John presents Jesus as “the Stranger from Heaven” (Mellowes). Each event told by Disciple John is highly literary and symbolic. This paper will examine Saville and Cusick’s cinematographic version of the Gospel of John and how far the adaptation was to the gospel as written in the New Testament.

There have been heated debates, dialogue and narrations about the American Bible Society’s Good News translation of the Fourth Gospel that translation is neither exaggerated nor interpolated. There are concurrent assertions that the locations, performances, demonstrations and effects are completely at drawn from the text, the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John, in the film, has more character than the actual Bible characters. This is probably associated with the movies of today’s world that are mostly theoretical at the stage than real (Bible & Barclay, 1956).

The inappropriateness of the representations that are used in the movie calls for inquiry on whether this type of film is superior. As photographic art, that is freely adapted and begins with a stage play or some sort of biblical narrative and reimagines it for the display is much suited to take full specialist of the specificity of the nature and character of movie. Notwithstanding there another more verbatim kind of approach ensures that one experiences in a clearer way the purpose and vision of the original the playwright, author or evangelist.

The Gospel of John brings on board the unique way of biblical engagements in a more visual and fidelity of the Bible is made manifest on an audio cassette and CD. Precisely as in any other video developments, this this hybrid approach comes along with other kinds of trade-offs and compromise nevertheless as an artistic reflection on sacred scripture it epitomises a unique and valuable opportunity to know the Word of God in a new-fangled way.

Corley (2004) claims that compared to other productions like the third production of an outfit that was based in Toronto named Visual Bible International whose efforts were done twice based on the Gospel by Matthew and Acts of the Apostles, the three-hour-long Gospel of John brags of an enormous number of faces, among them being the compact production values, better acting, expert directing done by Saville, and appealing description by Christopher Plummer.

The accuracy that the filmmaker achieved can only be associated with a close working with a consultative committee of specialists emanating from different denominations like Catholic, Jewish faiths, and Protestant and bringing forth expertise in the field of Scripture studies, theology, archaeology and the filmmakers. The filmmakers endeavoured for accuracy in every facet of the production. Though modestly planned for, The Gospel of John appears to be remarkably authentic, as revealed from the precisely researched costumes and relics to the outdoor locations in South Spain (Corley, 2004). Even the actual score rightly integrates instruments and musical consistencies from the days of Jesus.

It can be alluded that to bring the authenticity part of the movie experience the characters that are used in this film are, following this obligation to authenticity, mostly British, even though black and Middle-Eastern actors are found in the extras character that make the plot reach its completion. Jesus himself is represented by Henry Ian Cusick, who does not differ so much from many Jesus actors. He speaks with a first-class British accent that mimics Jesus’ crofter origins.

We all know that the incarnation of Jesus is a reality from this Gospel book God but surprisingly the challenge of depicting God incarnate has overwhelmed screen actors since the start of cinema. More than one actor would-be Jesus, in an endeavour suggesting superiority and divine wisdom, the fact that has been motivated to take refuge in earnest, significant line analyses and a regular effect. Conversely great are vulnerable, the human performances taking place of God lack even the minutes’ sense of the unique authority or transcendence.

One of the characters, Cusick’s has a compelling performance that is affectionately human and also authoritatively surprising; to the extent it is even polemical. Cusick’s representation of Jesus has the manifestation and confidence of a favourite teacher fearless to preach the Gospel message to friend and adversary, be he Jew and Roman, and easily transits from speaking to a large crowd to focusing completely on an individual. While this Jesus represented in the film has a ready sense of wit, smiles and laughs, the film footages past that unique and the most known moment at Lazarus’s graveyard known as the shortest verse ever in the Bible, (Jesus wept) with even no one slimmest onscreen reaction.

There are a few other stroppy moments that indicate that the filmmakers apparently unwilling or for some reason did not even to try to visualize the narrative. Perhaps, this part of the unavoidable trade-off is for the sake of this film’s conformity to the gospel text, which after all is not written with allusive dramatic performance at the back of the mind contrary to the stage plays that were written bearing cinematic creation in mind. The compromises in the two cases could be those that lovers of the original work might thankfully make for the sake of dependability to the source, but that there are many compromises that cannot be gotten everywhere.

According to Staley & Walsh (2007), the best example is the interplay between the narrated and spoken dialogues that discourse naturally on the printed piece that is said to have the capability becoming awkward when delivered verbally by separate and distinct voices. Assumptions and inferences that appear to be natural to bibliophiles of an antique text becomes less and so is to film audiences with typical anticipations about due founding of plot points. There is another misrepresentation of events as events that were perchance never intended to be envisaged in the first place, as the Bible is the least visually graphic of antique texts, create intellectual dissonance when unenthusiastically displayed on the screen.

Another illustration of the time when Jesus Christ was arrested in the garden Gethsemane in Mount Olives, Plummer devotedly read John’s account of the soldiers who fell to the ground before Jesus, while on display the actors take a limited number of steps back for unclear reason, but noticeably fails to trip or in any way tumble to the ground. Also in the scenes depicting the resurrection of Jesus Christ for example when he goes unrecognized, the film portrays Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene who is shown seated on the ground with his face hidden in a bush of some plants, as though he passed for the gardener (Staley & Walsh, 2007).

At some points in the film, the director, Saville and scriptwriter, John Goldsmith included creative and efficient means of aiding the text. However the film has an advantageous edge as it visually breaks up film of Jesus conveying the lengthy monologue in chapters 15 to 17 of this book, not only by depicting his movements from the upper apartment to the garden, but also by flinging in black-and-white memories illustrating the arguments Jesus is making with previous pieces from the film. For example, the warning of Jesus to his disciples that they are to be hated and persecuted just as he was, the movie flashes back to Jesus’ previous run-ins with insensitive Jewish powers that be and hearers.

Staley & Walsh (2007) says that this film’s most inescapable weakness is the translation of the word ‘alas’. This interpretation provides the foundation for the screenplay of the Good News Bible and is neither literal nor fictitious, neither exact nor graceful. If one compares with such translations like the Revised Standard Version, the Good News Bible is merely a paraphrase than a translation, and not an especially dependable paraphrase at that.

[bookmark: _GoBack]The usage of most distinctive utterances of Jesus like “Truly, truly…” or “Verily, verily…”) are not known outside of Christ’s treatise as appears to have been an exceptional expression of his own influential teaching. These may not be capture in the exhibition time or if then they may not be as clear as the Bible puts it in its present silent mode. On the contrary in the Good News Bible version it is replaced with the trite expression “I am speaking the truth to you,” not only disguises the uniqueness of Christ’s communication, or of its power, but raises the likelihood of uncertainty where nobody might have been present.

Cusick does what he can to distinguish the lame GNB phrasing from his line interpretations, saying phrases like “I am telling you the truth” which is a distinctive conveyance, successfully making it a sort of exhortation. Even then with the sheer number of times the phrase occurs in the Gospel of John (about 25), these words cloud long before the film comes to an end. Other issues of translation in the Book of John include the phrase where Jesus says “My flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink” in John 6:55 is changed to bring a non-literal meaning which may result in misinterpretations. This makes the dissimilarities gap between the real Gospel book and the movie one wider.

The numerous drawbacks however do not amount to fundamental objections as the gist of the narration of John and the teachings of Christ as presented that time of writing remain unaltered. Even more to these are the performances and the demonstrations that are done on the stage to bring the more sacred text to life. With this in mind and that more honourable executions will be done to better the visualization of the whole Gospel content, The Gospel of John is and will probably continue to be the most religiously noteworthy film of the years.

Philip Saville’s The Gospel of John on the other hand disregards ordinary film reproach, and indeed normal movie viewing. There are also a lot of disparities in the content of the movie and the content of the Gospel itself. It can be formalised that it is not based on St. John’s Gospel at all, following inappropriate scene representation.


Bible, N. T. J. A. B., & Barclay, W. (1956). The Gospel of John. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Corley, K. E. (2004). Jesus and Mel Gibson’s the Passion of the Christ: The film, the gospels and the claims of history. London [u.a.: Continuum.

Staley, J. L., ; Walsh, R. (2007). Jesus, the Gospels, and cinematic imagination: A handbook to Jesus on DVD. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox P.