Today, I am reviewing two movies provided for me by Herald Entertainment. Both were made by the same people, and they are called Jesus: He Lived Among Us and Joseph: Beloved Son, Rejected Slave, and Exalted Ruler. Each of them are approximately 90 minutes long, with English and Spanish options. The film on Jesus is recommended for ages 7 and up, which I will explain why in the review. While the film on Joseph is suitable for ages 5 and up. Onto the reviews!
Jesus: He Lived Among Us begins on the island of Patmos in the year 96 A.D. Those familiar with their Biblical history will immediately know that John will be of great importance to this film. The scene then shows us an old man (John) and two Roman soldiers questioning how this ancient man could be considered so dangerous that they would need to imprison and isolate him. John informs them that he would not worship the emperor, because there was only one true God. They then go on to talk about how there had been many attempts on John's life, but that he would not die. This is highly accurate, but it surprised me that they made mention of it, as I got a bit of a Protestant vibe from the film. John then tells the story of Jesus, and the remaining 99% of the film is a flashback.
The flashback begins with the Annunciation and quickly escalates to the Flight into Egypt. As Catholics we know about the deaths of all those babies, the Holy Innocents, that gave their life so Jesus could be saved, but we tend to gloss over them when reading in Scripture. After the Flight into Egypt, we flash forward approximately thirty years to Jesus' baptism by His cousin John the Baptist. The rest of the film focuses on Jesus' ministry. We see His teachings, His miracles, and those whose lives were changed by Him. However, there is a constant shadow being cast by the Pharisees in this film. They are always in the background grumbling and plotting. Again, this is something we know, but not something we always focus on. We also see the Passion, the Resurrection, and Jesus talking to Peter after His Resurrection. The film then ends with a bit of a Protestant altar call. Old John tells what he believes, why he knows it to be true, and asks, "Now that you have heard the story, what will you believe?"
Overall, I was impressed with this movie. You never know what you are going to get when you have an animated tale of Jesus, but this one was VERY Scriptural. There were times when it felt like some of the miracles were out of order, and there was one very tough scene to explain to your kids in the form of Judas' hanging on the tree. It didn't show him commit the act, but you could see the tree shaking and then it panned out and revealed him hanging there. Yes, I know this is accurate, but it was jarring for me to see and raised questions among younger children. Overall, I would still recommend this move. Just be prepared to field tough questions on some of the scenes. Here is a trailer of the movie for you to preview.
Joseph: Beloved Son, Rejected Slave, and Exalted Ruler begins oddly enough with Abraham, not Joseph. In it Abraham is having a prophetic dream, which speaks of the centuries of slavery that the Israelites will suffer in Egypt and their eventual exodus. It then flashes forward 170 years, and we see Joseph as a teenager being gifted his coat of many colors. Joseph goes off to find his brothers and show off his new coat. Even early on, we can see Isaac's favoritism to Joseph; Joseph's arrogance/obliviousness at being the favorite; and Reuben's instincts on trying to protect Joseph. Joseph also has his first prophetic dream about the sheaves of wheat and how his brothers' sheaves bowed before his sheaf. About thirty minutes in Joseph is sold into slavery, and his life is changed forever. In addition to showing elements of the story that we all know, i.e., Potiphar's wife and the great famine. We also see Joseph making reference to his father Isaac and the stairway to Heaven. The story ends by comparing Joseph with Moses and then to Jesus. This ending shows a covenantal history that is found throughout the Bible.
The story of Joseph are some of my favorite chapters in the Bible, so I have mixed feelings on this movie. On the one hand, the film itself is Biblically accurate. It does an amazing job, not only telling the story of Joseph, but putting it in its rightful place in the story of the Bible as a whole. On the other hand, I remember and often watch Joseph: King of Dreams from Dreamworks, so it is tough to live up to one of my favorite movies. Tastes in movies vary greatly though, so you will have to judge for yourself, and that is why I have provided you with the trailer below to see it. I personally recommend it for your family and religious education classes as well.
These DVDs were provided to me for free by Herald Entertainment in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!