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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4529

 Black Jesus film preaches politics over religion

[b]Black Jesus film preaches politics over religion [/b]
[i]By Rebecca Harrison[/i]
Thur, Jan 19, 2006

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Billed as the world's first black Jesus movie, "Son of Man" portrays Christ as a modern African revolutionary and aims to shatter the Western image of a placid savior with fair hair and blue eyes.

The South African film, which premieres on Sunday at the U.S. Sundance festival in Utah, transports the life and death of Christ from first century Palestine to a contemporary African state racked by war and poverty.

Jesus is born in a shanty-town shed, a far cry from a manger in a Bethlehem stable. His mother Mary is a virgin, though feisty enough to argue with the angels. Gun-wielding authorities fear his message of equality and he ends up hanging on a cross.

"We wanted to look at the gospels as if they were written by spindoctors and to strip that away and look at the truth," director Mark Dornford-May told Reuters in an interview.

"The truth is that Christ was born in an occupied state and preached equality at a time when that wasn't very acceptable."

By portraying Jesus as a black African, Dornford-May hopes to sharpen the political context of the gospels, when Israel was under Roman occupation, and challenge Western perceptions of Christ as meek, mild and European.

"We have to accept that Christ has been hijacked a bit -- he's gone very blonde haired and blue-eyed," he said. "The important thing about the message of Christ was that it is universal. It doesn't matter what he looked like."

In fact, there was a film called "Black Jesus" made in 1968 and starring Woody Strode, but it is described as a political commentary rather than an interpretation of the life of Christ.


Made by the same theater company behind last year's award-winning "U-Carmen eKhayelitsha," Son of Man is in the tongue-clicking Xhosa African language and English and was filmed in the sprawling black townships near Cape Town.

Jesus begins his public ministry after an encounter with Satan -- who appears cloaked in black leather -- during his traditional Xhosa circumcision rite.

He gathers followers from the factions of armed rebels across the country and demands they lay down their guns and confront their corrupt rulers with a vision of non-violent protest and solidarity.

Dornford-May, who says he subscribes to Christ's teachings without necessarily believing he is the son of God, says the Jesus in the film is a divine being who rises from the dead.

His resurrection is meant to signal hope for Africa, the world's poorest continent which is sometimes dismissed by foreigners as a hopeless mess of conflict and corruption.

"The ending is optimistic but realistic. There is an incredible struggle to get to the optimism," he said.

Dornford-May says focus groups of church leaders and ordinary Christians in South Africa, where Christianity often comes in a conservative form, broadly praised the film, which he hopes will prove a hit on the continent and worldwide.

Mary, played by the star of U-Carmen, Pauline Malefane, gets a beefed-up role as the inspiration for Christ's politics and humanity, compared to her fairly brief biblical appearances.

And Malefane, who is married to Dorford-May, makes a smooth transition from playing the seductive heroine Carmen to the world's most famous virgin, he said.

"They are both women who are prepared to stand outside of society. They may be different sides of the coin but they are still the same coin -- but I'm not going to be very popular for saying that."

Entire article can be found [url=]here.[/url].



 2006/1/20 9:39Profile

Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164

 Re: Black Jesus film preaches politics over religion

This reminds me of one guy I talked to. He kept asking me "was Jesus white or black?" I would respond and say, "He was a jew." Then he would say well.. what did he look like? White or black? I kept telling him He looked like a jew.

He was trying to make it out that Jesus was white and was against blacks.... what nonsense! I don't think you should play Jesus out to be white or black... He was jew!

I don't know how dark his skin was...

Josh Parsley

 2006/1/20 9:48Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4529


Hi PreachParsly...!

Very good point! Jesus was jewish. Like many jews, his skin tone could have been dark, olive or light. However, many jews at that time worked and walked outside. Over the years, this could develop into quite a tan.

My maternal grandfather was caucasian of English/Irish decent. He was a farmer and worked in the field most of his life. As a result, he had a year-round tan. My girlfriend (Mireya) is hispanic. After she saw his photograph, she had a difficult time believing that he was truly my grandfather because of his dark skin tone!

As a result, when I think of the men and women in the Bible, I always imagine them as such.



 2006/1/20 10:13Profile

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