According to Variety, “independent producer” Bill McKay (whose previous film credits I cannot find for the life of me) is producing The Resurrection of Christ, a film focusing on the crucifixion from the perspective of Pontius Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, and Judas. McKay is producing the film through his company American Trademark and is set for distribution through Samuel Goldwyn Films in hopes of an Easter 2011 release. The Resurrection of Christ will be directed by Jonas McCord (whose most recent directorial credit is 2001’s The Body, but has a more consistent career producing indies you’ve actually heard of like Havoc and Eulogy) and written by Dan Gordon (The Hurricane, Surf Ninjas (srsly)). The $20 million production will begin its 10-week shoot in July in Israel, Morocco, and Europe.
This sounds like an interesting, fresh take on a story that has been told on film many, many times. I just hope Pilate, Judas, et al., are not portrayed as one-dimensional villains as they so often are in history, theology, and cinema, but as fully fleshed-out, multidimensional characters. That could be a new approach to The Greatest Story Ever Told, and would be a nice break from the violent passion-play aspect so often focused upon in depicting the crucifixion. To arguable degrees of success, we got a hint of what a three-dimensional Pilate and Judas would look like twenty-two years ago in Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ through David Bowie and Harvey Keitel, respectively. Despite the larger argument on the merits of The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s Christ narrative didn’t really offer any new insight into these characters in 2004. Displacing Christ as the focal point of the story could enable a revealing new perspective.
Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen. The talent behind the production, judging by their previous work (or lack thereof), is rather dubious. The film is also being exec produced by J. David Williams (The Omega Code), which, combined with McKay, suggests that, despite the sizable budget, The Resurrection of Christ is being tailor-made specifically for the Christian demographic (think: the flat storytelling and low production value of Fireproof rather than the professionalism of Gibson) rather than, say, the mass audience that The Passion and The Last Temptation reached. In that context, I seriously doubt Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, and Judas will be portrayed as anything but villains in order to not ruffle feathers with the particular audience they are trying to reach, which would make – I think – for a rather flat approach to a story that has already been told on film oh-so many times.
What do you think?