Jesus is a superstar again | india | Hindustan Times
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Jesus is a superstar again

Jesus IS returning ? to your local multiplex. Twice, in fact, in two film adaptations of his life, one of them already controversial. Other films about the Bible and historical and fictional Christian figures will soon follow.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2003 18:44 IST
USA Today

Jesus IS returning — to your local multiplex.

Twice, in fact, in two film adaptations of his life, one of them already controversial. Other films about the Bible and historical and fictional Christian figures will soon follow.

"More religious films tend to pop up in times of fear and uncertainty," says Richard Lee, professor emeritus of humanities at Valparaiso University in Indiana. "Such as a time of terrorism at home, militant Islam abroad, job losses, a swelling national debt."

Due in theaters:

• The Passion, Mel Gibson's story about the last 12 hours of Jesus before his crucifixion, told in Latin and Aramaic with no subtitles, hits US screens next spring. The film has sparked controversy among some Jewish groups who are concerned that the movie will stir anti-Semitism.

• The Gospel of John, a word-for-word adaptation starring Christopher Plummer, opens in the US on September 26.

• Luther, an epic starring Joseph Fiennes as the charismatic Martin Luther, who challenged the Vatican's supreme authority and became known as the Father of the Reformation, also opens in the US on September 26.

"If we can't find heroes in our own times — just think of all the corporate scandals — we will look for them elsewhere," says psychologist Patricia Farrell, a former film critic. "Religion and religious figures have always provided a sense of comfort."

But don't expect mainstream Hollywood to be converted, says Gregg Dean Schmitz, upcoming movie tracker for Gregg's Previews at Yahoo Movies.

"The Passion and The Gospel of John are part of an ongoing wave of Christian-produced movies that have been growing in number and success in recent years," Schmitz says.

"The major studios contend that the market for religious films is a niche audience, and that these films are usually agenda-driven," says Randy Slaughter, owner of RS Entertainment, the small distributor behind Luther.

"It seems a shame that a film like Luther is branded religious when in fact it's the story of one of the most influential men in history."