cinema, religion, Jesus Christ


The controversy in 2004 over possible anti-Semitism in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ had precedents in earlier Jesus-films. Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to Matthew and Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth have also been accused of anti-Semitism. Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889-1968) wanted to combat anti-Semitism, as he directly stated in his own essays attached to his Jesus screenplay, which since his death has been published in English, Danish, and French versions. Dreyer began the film project in 1949-1950 in Independence, Missouri, writing in English, and he worked on it until the end of his life. However, he was continually thwarted financially in his efforts to see it to the screen. The context of Dreyer' s desire to make a film about Jesus that would not be anti-Semitic, however, has not, as far as I can tell, been discussed in detail in the dozen or so books on the depiction of Christ in the cinema and in the even greater number of books published on Dreyer.