Monday, March 24, 2008

Face off

Richard, Annie and I watched the final part of BBC's 'The Passion' last night with a small amount of trepidation that the usual cynical approach to the resurrection would prevail. We had only watched the previous episode, not the ones earlier in the week: I'm always a bit reticent to see interpretations of Jesus, afraid that someone else's version of Christ will stick in my head in an unhelpful way. Even if the version is potentialy a good one - remembering Zeffirelli's 'Jesus of Nazareth' - it can still 'stick' a bit too well, so that I can feel I'm praying to Robert Powell at times - even now!

But I loved the way that last night's production interpreted two of the gospel readings. The Bible tells us that both Mary in the garden and the two on the road to Emmaus failed to recognise Jesus at first; then 'saw' him in the simple and familiar - Mary as he called her name, and the two as they watched him break bread. 'The Passion' demonstrated this by using different actors, the first one looking more like the original than the second (or was that the same person with different hair, prosthetics etc?), who used some familiar body language and turns of phrase to make both the disciples in the story and the audience wonder if it was the same person or not.

The whole effect made me more conscious of the ordinary humanity of Jesus - dirty fingernails, calloused feet, sunburned face and all; and of the ability he has to get under our skin, to force us to recognise his presence even when everything in us wants to deny it.

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