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Feb27ThuSon of God, a revamped version of The Bible mini-series, focuses on the life of Jesus. February 27, 2014 by Ken Ramstead
After wrapping up the filming of The Bible in 2012, co-producers Mark Burnett (Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) looked at what was left on the cutting-room floor and decided there was an opportunity to tell more of the story.
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“When we were in Morocco filming the New Testament portion of the series,” Mark explains, “Roma and I knew we had something really special on our hands. We'd shot far more footage than we needed, more than we could possibly use in the mini-series. We realized that this was a heaven-sent opportunity to put together the entire stand-alone narrative of Jesus' life, from the Nativity to the Resurrection. Remember, it's been a decade since 2004's The Passion of the Christ and it's almost 50 years since The Greatest Story Ever Told, which is the last time that Jesus' entire life was on the big screen.”
Buoyed by the unprecedented success of the mini-series, the husband-and-wife team approached 20th Century Fox, who greenlighted their project, which hits theatres February 28.
Son of God covers Jesus' life from His birth to His mission and miracles, right through to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, but it is not simply a repackaging of the second part of The Bible. “It's a completely different experience,” asserts Mark. “Many familiar scenes were re-edited, we've recast scenes we had to cut from The Bible, and new scenes not in the mini-series have been added.
“Son of God is told from the perspective of the Apostle John,” says Mark. “In his book of the Bible, he takes a very strong position: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' (John 1:1). John's making a clear statement of who Jesus is. He's telling us, 'I was one of His followers. You would have been, too, if you had experienced what I went through and all that I saw and heard.'
“John was certain that Jesus was the Son of God and this is why we do not call the movie The Messiah,” Mark continues. “There were many messiahs—saviours—promised, but there is only one Son of God. We're hoping that, like John, theatregoers will fall in love with Jesus as John did, through His words and deeds.”
As with The Bible, Roma and Mark worked very closely with Jewish scholars and religious leaders to ensure that their portrayal of Jewish figures such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea was sensitive and balanced. Their efforts have received endorsements from experts across the religious spectrum.
Mark and Roma refer to themselves as “noisy Christians” and are excited will have the potential to be seen by millions of people on thousands of screens around the world.
“We leveraged our experience and influence in Hollywood to deliver a film that can hold its own with any of the big blockbuster movies out there today,” Mark states.
“We've sat in on more than a dozen test screenings and the results have been wildly positive from Christians and non-Christians alike,” Roma continues. “When the lights come back on, people haven't been getting up to leave. They continue sitting and talking about what they have just seen. It's quite remarkable and something we didn't expect to see.”
“We want this movie to be enjoyed by everyone, whether you know your Bible inside-out or have never picked it up, whether you are a regular churchgoer or have not been to church in years—or ever,” adds Mark. “Our intent in making the movie was to share the message of Jesus' love, His love for the planet. We need that message now more than ever—we need God more than ever.”
“When we began this journey almost five years ago,” concludes Roma, “I don't think we would have ever dared to dream this big, but I think we've succeeded.”
(Photos: LightWorkers Media Inc and Hearst Productions Inc.)