20 April 2015

Movie Review: "The Visual Bible: Matthew"

Rated: Not Rated (Dove approved for ages twelve and up)
Starring: Bruce Marchiano and Richard Kiley
Released: 1995 (original VHS)
Synopsis: The Gospel of Matthew comes to life in this word-for-word movie adaptation! Featuring Bruce Marchiano as Jesus and Richard Kiley as titular narrator Matthew, this film uses the NIV text of the first of the Gospels as its script! Shot on location in Tunisia, Morocco, and South Africa, and with an expansive cast, this presents the story of Jesus as never before! Watch as Jesus is born, starts his ministry, is betrayed, and dies...only to rise again!
Part of the Visual Bible film series.

The Good: A faithful representation of the Bible in film is always a good thing, and especially when it's word-for-word! Bruce Marchiano does a great job of portraying the Savior of the world, and expresses various ranges of emotion, from smiling and laughing to His voice breaking in sadness.  It's also good to see a movie where Jesus smiles at all; too many times, we think of Him as businesslike and stern...but, if he was, would the children of His day have liked Him? Some of the scenes, especially the Last Supper and crucifixion, are appropriately dramatic.  The movie uses the New International Version, which is a trusted and beloved rendering of God's Word.  Even the subtitles have Jesus' words in a different color, which is a nice touch.

The Bad: I hate to complain about a movie like this, but I did have some issues with it.  The budget for this film wasn't all that high, as you'll see by watching it.  Some of the most dramatic scenes in the Gospel could have been presented in a much better way, especially Jesus' temptation in the desert and Joseph and Mary's escape from King Herod.  Scenes with Matthew narrating interrupt the flow of the story, and the subtitles are oversized and grammatically awkward.

Content Concerns: Given the subject material, I won't do my usual listing.  What I will say is that the crucifixion scene is a bit bloody, but definitely not as intense as The Passion of the Christ or even Son of God.  Also, for those who don't care for the New International Version of the Bible...well, that's the one this film uses.

Conclusion: I've been watching this film over the past few weeks alongside my reading of Matthew, and enjoyed it.  Despite its drawbacks, it's a great Bible study helper.  If you're looking for a audiovisual version of "the greatest story ever told," why not check out this one?

Score: 4/5

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