Many movies are based on a book. Some go to see a movie because they read the book, and some go to see one based on how well it is promoted, and some are satisfied with just reading the book. For those who both read the book and watch the film version comparisons are inevitable. The movie went along with the book, or it was better than the book, or the book was better.
The husband-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey who gave us the five-part televised miniseries The Bible, have collaborated again to produce a recently released movie on the life of Christ entitled Son of God. The film and the miniseries, like many movies, are based on a book, actually, the Book of books. Their interest in producing Bible-based entertainment was inspired by Cecil B. DeMille’s epic film The Ten Commandments.
It is a formidable task to produce a film adaptation of any part of the number one, all-time, Bestseller. No other book is as widely read, more studied, or revered. Opinions regarding it are many, varied, and strongly held. To make a movie predicated on any of the Bible’s many themes or narratives is to invite the sure criticism of this or that group. Mark and Roma were aware of this, and it is said they meticulously researched the material, and sought the advice of Bible scholars in producing the film Son of God.
Producing a Bible-based movie is a no-brainer. The many narratives of human history within its pages are mesmerizing. The Scriptures’ record of epic events of places and peoples drip with drama, and the rise and fall of empires and individuals are captivating. Sheer curiosity draws believer and unbeliever alike to the movie theater; in short, Bible movies are moneymakers.
There are a host of movies that have been based on biblical themes. I have seen several of them. I have liked some more than others, but they all fall short in one or more ways. This is understandable; the entertainment industry thrives by making a profit, not getting the story right. If a movie prompts people to read the Bible it has served a good purpose, but don’t let your faith be predicated on a Hollywood adaptation.
I have talked with some who have seen Son of God. There are mixed reviews. Some liked it, others not so much. I do not think anyone can really get to know the One who said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life (John 14:6)” for the cost of admission and a couple hours of eating popcorn and sipping on a coke. For me the criterion for a movie about any subject in the Bible is how true it remains to the scriptural account. I found Son of God disappointing, but that is because I read the Book.