In recent weeks, my attention has been drawn to a film series concerning the Life of Christ: “The Chosen”. I decided yesterday to check this out and as I write I have seen the first five episodes.
According to Wikipedia: “The Chosen is a television drama based on the life of Jesus Christ, created, directed and co-written by American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins. It is the first multi-season series about the life of Christ, and season one was the highest crowd-funded TV series or film project of all time. The series’ creators stated that they had hoped to distinguish the new series from previous portrayals of Jesus by crafting a multi-season, episode-based story. The series portrays Jesus “through the eyes of those who met him”. In addition to VidAngel and its own app, the series airs on several streaming services. ”The Chosen” is multi-season television drama about Jesus Christ. Series creator Dallas Jenkins wanted to create a series about Christ that could be “binge watched.” Jenkins’ intention was not only to dig deeper into the people who encountered Jesus and to see Jesus through the eyes of those who met him, but also to show him in a way that is more “personal, intimate, immediate.” The first season introduces Jesus and the calling of his initial disciples. The second season focuses on the beginning of his public ministry and what happens as word of his ministry began to spread.”
According to The Chosen own website: “Watch the first ever multi-season series about the life of Christ. A charismatic fisherman drowning in debt. A troubled woman wrestling with real demons. A gifted publican ostracized by his family and his people. A religious leader struggling with his beliefs. See Jesus through the eyes of those that met him.” From the website, we learn the intention is to produce the complete series over seven seasons and that it be crowd founded. Season 1 is complete and fully funded and all eight episodes, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour in length, are available for free viewing from the website, as well as from You Tube or via an App. Season 2 is fully funded, with the first three episodes already posted, with the remainder to be posted soon. As for the remaining episodes, the needed fund raising is in progress and those responsible are confident the project will complete. I was intrigued about many things, including title, which I understand is based on a Bible text: “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” Isaiah 43:1.
During my lifetime, I have seen many film portrayals of the Life of Christ, often well-funded. Most are two to three hours in length, either covering His whole life or an aspect of it, e.g. The Passion of the Christ, which was about His death. Most I judge to be credible performances, usually trying to be faithful to the text of the four Gospels. The result though is often somewhat wooden and seeming to emphasise the Deity of Christ as opposed to Humanity. In the recent years, I was particularly moved by The Passion of the Christ although some near to me have criticised it for straying too far from the text. It is not a criticism I share as for nearly three hours it focused on Christ’s suffering with a mere thirty seconds to His rising from the dead. But I was left with a sense of wonder – He did this for me and having thrown all they had to humiliate, harm and kill the Lord Jesus Christ, he rose triumphant over death!
Artistic license when dealing with historical events where our knowledge is limited is nigh inevitable if the aim is for an end product that people find interesting and want to watch. While the purist might recoil from such treatment with a subject as sacred as the Life of the Son of God, I am open – and I needed to be, given there was a lot of artistic license used in The Chosen; for example, an early episode was almost entirely devoted to Jesus dealing with a group of children, any record of it ever having taken place being non-existent. Such was the tendency for all the first five episodes seen so far, and no doubt will continue right to the end of the project. While, I am not fully decided on the matter, I am inclined to the view that the approach adopted was the right one. For one thing, there was due reverence and as for the issue that has often divided Christians over two millennia, the script writers have got the human – divine balance about right. I love the character development seen so far, and while a lot of it cannot be derived direct from the Bible, from my understanding, having studied the Biblical narrative in detail, it is not inconsistent. Moreover, the episodes I have seen thus far have imho been thoroughly watchable as well as credible, and I intend to watch the remaining ones.
Spreading the Good News concerning Jesus is the primary mission of His followers today. I believe “The Chosen” may become a powerful tool in doing so. I await developments with interest.