Historical figures in film: the celluloid Christ

  • Author(s): Sarah Noah
  • When: 1993-05
  • Where: San Jose State University
  • This thesis examines how filmmakers are able to influence audience perceptions of historical figures by infusing their cinematic interpretations with their own belief systems. Four films on the life and identity of Jesus Christ are examined. The problem is examined by analyzing the backgrounds of the filmmakers, the appearance and performance of the actor chosen to portray Jesus Christ, the treatment of events in the film in relation to the chosen historical texts, and response to the film in religious and non-religious journals. The study of these elements reveals four distinctly personal portraits of Jesus Christ. The filmmakers present a modification of historical information, based on their own intention for the film, which leads audiences to different conclusions about the historical and religious identity of Jesus Christ.

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