Magdalena: Through Her Eyes
The Latest from: The Jesus Film Project!
Wonderful Film, A Must See!
Is God's transforming power still available today?
A woman caught in the shameful act of adultery; a social outcast ignored because of her loose lifestyle; a recluse shunned in society for 12 years because of a despicable illness; a widow mourning the loss of her only son. An ugly thread of shame, sorrow and hopelessness painfully weaves its way through each of these women's lives.
After spending three years following Jesus, Mary Magdalene has seen it all - lives changed, miracles performed, the sorrow of death and yet the triumph of life. Mary has watched in amazement as Jesus taught a whole new way of looking at life and at people. Jesus radically transformed her own life when he healed her from demon possession, so much so that she became His follower.
Fast forward to A.D. 40. Although Jesus no longer remains on earth, Mary Magdalene still lives a changed life. Despite His miraculous works and His surprising compassion, not everyone bought into the teachings of this man, Jesus. Skeptical about this supposed Savior, Mary's friend questions her, "The God who created all of this? I doubt He even sees me, much less knows me."
In response, Mary Magdalene passionately retells the details of Jesus' life - from birth, to death, and eventually to resurrection - and how His life continues on in the lives of those who follow Him....
Watch movie trailers
You can watch some of the best scenes from the movie - in multiple languages - at www.MagdalenaMovie.com
Both women and men all over the globe are being deeply touched by Magdalena: Released From Shame . They are saying that they have never viewed a film so powerful in communicating that Christ values women. To make the connection with women's hearts so strongly, we had women write, direct and produce the film. Magdalena : Released From Shame is a fresh look at what we believe the women of Christ's time would have experienced when personally encountering His compassion and healing. Now, pastors and woman's ministry leaders who have seen it cannot wait to use it in their ministries. As a tool for evangelism, it is encouraging women to step out in faith to reach the women in their sphere of influence in a new way.
Potential Ministry Uses
- Ask the Lord for His leading in reaching the women in your area.
- Small group home showing with neighbors; afterwards meet regularly to teach them basic Christian growth principles.
- Plan a church-wide Christmas (or Easter) outreach for women.
- Reach out to women's groups and leadership in your city.
- Humanitarian projects for women: Single moms; Homeless; Women's prisons; Crisis pregnancy centers.
Running Time: 82 minutes.
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Portuguese and Russian languages.
Format: NTSC only.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Magdalena - Released From Shame - Review
My friend in Morocco was given a DVD of this film at a conference recently, although she couldn't remember which one. A quick search on Google, however, reveals that this has happened in a few places, and that the film has been screened at other conferences. I've got a fair bit to say about this film's use of material from The Jesus Film which I'll save for another post. For now, here's my review
The Jesus Film was finished 28 years ago, and in the intervening period it has gone on to become the most watched film of all time. Yet whilst missionaries all over the world continue to value it as an evangelistic tool others clearly seem to be aware that their beloved movie is starting to appear dated. As a result, the last few years have seen a number of different versions of the film be released, including a version made for children and a longer edition of the film featuring a brief introduction from Genesis.
Magdalena - Released From Shame is the latest, and most radical development in this tradition. In addition to incorporating its own extra-biblical scenes, it has also incorporated a number of additional stories from the gospel that were not included in the original production. Brian Deacon has reprised the role of Jesus from the original - vocally at least, but in order to avoid the inevitable continuity errors that would result from the passing of almost 3 decades, Jesus' face is not shown in these scenes - it may even be a younger actor. Close listening, however, reveals a slight difference in Deacon's voice: it is richer and more noble than it was in 1979.
This leads to a couple of interesting moments, when we see a more intimate conversation between Jesus and one of his audiences. We see their face in close up with part of the back of Jesus' head in the foreground. But the expected, and usual, reverse shot (showing us Jesus' face and the back of the other person's head) never materializes. It's a little off putting, but it does focus the attention on the response of those who originally listened to Jesus, and recollects all those 50s Bible epics which were so reverent they didn't even show his face.
As well as inserting extra scenes / shots, it has also added extra flourished to the original. So the original angels were white men with 70's fros and a white bed sheet, Here they are more indistinct CGI figures. We also see the occasional piece of symbolism, most notably the snake who slithers amongst a pile of ropes during Jesus trial, but is seen dead shortly after Magdalene sees the resurrected Jesus.
The film also jumbles the chronology. We start in 40AD with Mary Magdalene telling a group of her friends about Jesus. She goes right back to the stories of creation and Abraham before jumping to the events of the Nativity and Jesus' baptism and onto her encounter with Jesus. At this point the film returns briefly to Mary and friends before proceeding with the story of Jesus' ministry and execution in a more linear fashion. From then, up until Jesus' ascension we occasionally return to AD40, but it's the Jesus story that by far predominates.
Essentially then this film seeks to tell the story of Jesus in from the perspective of Mary Magdalene - the message of Jesus is mediated to the audience by her. In addition to the scenes from 40AD and those from Jesus' ministry that feature Magdalene, she also provides the occasional bit of narration. Unfortunately, the actress playing Mary Magdalene herself (Rebecca Ritz) is one of the film's greatest weakness. She is far too earnest and, as a result, comes across as somewhat patronizing. Worse still, there's no real passion in her account of this supposedly life-changing encounter.
The film's intended audience is also made fairly clear. Mary is primarily telling the story to a woman who has not heard about Jesus, and who rather conveniently feeds Mary the exact questions she needs to move her monologue on to the next part in the narrative. Unfortunately, it's as forced and awkward as it sounds, and it's not helped by a wooden, unconvincing performance by Shira Lane as the would-be believer.
The other major key to the production's intended audience is the selection of episodes it includes. Nearly every scene from Jesus' ministry - whether from the original film, or more recent footage - has a woman as one of the crucial characters. The promotional material for the film is clear that in addition to Mary Magdalene the film also covers the stories of the Widow of Nain, the woman caught in adultery, and the hemophiliac who touches Jesus' robe.
In addition to selecting these stories it also inserts shots of Mary and the other woman around Jesus' ministry. So when he delivers his Gospel manifesto to a packed synagogue in Luke 4 we see Mary and a friend in the women's enclosure at the back. Likewise when an adulteress is brought before Jesus for Judgment, it is Mary who observes that the man should also be present.
So this is very much a film made for women, who perhaps find the usual male-dominated Bible films alienate them. As such it could have been a worthy project, but sadly, it's been poorly executed.
Despite its popularity with missionaries abroad The Jesus film has always been unpopular with film critics. Not only is it a not particularly well made film, but it's rubbed salt in the wound by going on to become the art form's most widely seen specimen. It's unfortunate, then, that the parts of Magdalena which stand out as being the most well crafted are those which have been cut and pasted from that original Jesus film.
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