I have been posting brief reviews of films on my Facebook page, but am going to start posting them here as well. I welcome your comments, especially your disagreements (which are much more interesting than agreement, but those are welcome, too).
I saw “Paul: Apostle of Christ” yesterday kind of on the spur of the moment.
It was not what I expected, a dramatization of Paul’s exploits as recorded in the book of Acts. The film provided a speculative narrative of the time between the end of Acts (Paul in jail) and Paul’s execution. Only brief hazy flashbacks dramatize any of the events in Acts – and only Paul’s pre-conversion persecution of Christians and, very briefly, his Road to Damascus experience and subsequent healing.
Whether this divergence from my expectations is a good thing or not, I’m not sure. Certainly the Acts narrative with its nonstop action would have been more exciting if familiar. This film involves a lot of talking in whispered voices when Luke meets with Paul in prison.
A couple of the sub-plots were interesting – the conflict among the underground Christians in Rome whether to fight back against persecution, and Luke’s struggle with his faith in the midst of that persecution. Another thread about the illness of Paul’s jailer’s daughter was less compelling because of its predictable outcome (he is DOCTOR Luke after all).
But . . . despite the stilted dialogue (why do people in Bible movies talk like they are in Bible movies – they wouldn’t have sounded like that in Bible times) and limitations of the 5 million dollar budget, I think the film is worth seeing. There are lots of things to talk about especially the contrast between Paul’s acceptance of his suffering in the name of Love, Luke’s struggle with it, and those who advocate taking up arms.
Perhaps the best line in the film was spoken by either Priscilla or Aquilla (who are leaders of the underground Christians in Rome – not sure if they were ever in Rome in the Bible) to those who wanted to overthrow Nero – “God calls us to care for the world, not to rule it.” Many implications of that sentiment NOW.
It is certainly better than films purveying Christian pablum like “God’s Not Dead.”
One caveat – there is lots of blood. While most violence takes place offscreen, the bloody results are shown including dead and about-to-be-dead children. One guy in a Roman temple pours a bucket of blood on his face. Plus Christians are lit up as lamps with much screaming. So maybe adolescents and older would be appropriate.
Finally, the film is more about Luke than about Paul. Luke is portrayed by James Caviezel, who played the title role in “The Passion of the Christ” Once I got past my initial reaction when he first appeared on the screen and I thought, “There’s Jesus,” I thought he did an adequate job within the limitations of the writing. And “Game of Thrones'” James Faulkner similarly succeeded as Paul.
And one other thing – I’m not sure how much sense the film would make to those not familiar with Paul’s story or who Luke is, so this might not be the best film for non-Christians.