New Testament in unrelated films?
January 29, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

I really want to watch some films that explicitly riff on New Testament events/verses/speeches, but which aren't "New Testament Movies," like Jesus of Montreal, Passion of the Christ, etc. The closest I've found yet is the "Two Cathedrals" episode of The West Wing. Catholic/Orthodox liturgy, unless based directly on the New Testament, isn't quite right. Could you suggest some movies or TV episodes?
posted by flibbertigibbet to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you mean something like Pulp Fiction's "Ezekiel 25:17" speech?
posted by jozxyqk at 9:19 AM on January 29, 2009

Response by poster: Yup! The Pulp Fiction Ezekiel thing would be perfect, if Ezekiel was in the New Testament (it's in the Hebrew Bible).
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:21 AM on January 29, 2009

Plenty of modern takes/parables in here.
posted by fire&wings at 9:30 AM on January 29, 2009

Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I has a Last Supper scene complete with Jesus and the Apostles. It's not a huge piece of the film, but maybe it will serve your purpose!
posted by pineapple at 9:30 AM on January 29, 2009

Dogma (or does that count as New Testament movie)?
posted by misha at 9:36 AM on January 29, 2009

It's probably not of any use to you, but here it is anyway: The anime series Serial Experiments Lain is in part based on Mathew 4:1-10, albeit under a very thick cyberpunk paint job. But it's never quoted.
posted by Class Goat at 9:39 AM on January 29, 2009

In Shawshank Redemption the Bible is literally at the centre of the plot.

WARDEN: I'm pleased to see you reading this. Any favorite passages?
ANDY Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh. (Mark 13:35)
NORTON (identifying the quotation).. I've always liked that one. (strolls the cell) But I prefer: "I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
posted by lucia__is__dada at 9:52 AM on January 29, 2009

It's hard to find these days, but you might look for The Addiction. I think it's only on VHS, which sucks, but it's worth tracking down if you can. The director uses vampirism as a metaphor for original sin.
posted by valkyryn at 10:05 AM on January 29, 2009

The connection's relatively tenuous, but I feel obliged to mention Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:16 AM on January 29, 2009

Does Monty Python's The Life of Brian count? I'm half-serious, as I don't know how you're using these. Surprised nobody had mentioned it yet.
posted by knile at 10:16 AM on January 29, 2009

Oh, James Brown quoting Thessalonians 5:2 on The Blues Brothers!
posted by lucia__is__dada at 10:27 AM on January 29, 2009

Jesus of Montreal:

"A group of actors put on an unorthodox, but acclaimed Passion Play which incites the opposition of the Catholic Church while the actors' lives themselves begin to mirror the Passion itself."

Pretty darn good, actually.
posted by ZakDaddy at 10:29 AM on January 29, 2009

The latest Superman movie has some New Testament themes throughout and a book that may be worth checking out is "Faith in High Definition: Religion and the Television Drama after 9/11"
posted by perpetualstroll at 10:32 AM on January 29, 2009


I still really like that movie, though.
posted by ZakDaddy at 10:34 AM on January 29, 2009

"Passing through Gethsemane" and "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place," two episodes of Babylon 5, might fit the bill. The title of the first refers to the garden where Jesus spent the night before his crucifixion, and is thematically related, although I don't recall if the bible is directly quoted in the episode. The title of the second is taken from a gospel song which appears in the episode, which in turn is a reference to Revelation 6:15-17.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:54 AM on January 29, 2009

Since I don't entirely understand the question, I'm not sure if Godard's Je vous salue, Marie qualifies. But since I don't entirely understand the movie either, why not.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:05 AM on January 29, 2009

A kind of odd flick in this vein is The Next One, with Keir Dullea of all people. It's not a great film, but the titular character is clearly a Christ figure (and -- *spoiler* -- may actually have been Christ).

The director uses vampirism as a metaphor for original sin.

And just because I'm kind of nitpicky, I would argue that The Addiction uses vampirism as a metaphor for drug use - hence the title - rather than original sin, but hey whatever. Doesnt fit your question imho, but it is a really nifty film.
posted by elendil71 at 11:16 AM on January 29, 2009

Ordet? Bad Lieutenant? Breaking the waves? Come to think of it, The Da Vinci Code?
posted by rjs at 11:18 AM on January 29, 2009

Jesus Christ Superstar?
posted by getawaysticks at 11:24 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

valkyryn reminded me of Dracula 2000.


Dracula is actually Judas Iscariot, who was denied the blood of Christ, so he is doomed to be an immortal who needs to feed on the blood of innocents. Also explains his issues with the Cross, because it reminds him of how he betrayed Jesus.
posted by jrishel at 11:32 AM on January 29, 2009

The Rapture. You should consider when this film was made. I think it would have been received quite differently now.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2009

If there is ever a film or TV version of Corpus Christi. Godspell, perhaps. The Last Temptation of Christ? Stigmata? (ick)
posted by mkb at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2009

Robert Altman's MASH has a brief Last Supper scene.
posted by booth at 1:13 PM on January 29, 2009

Wise Blood is a good film adaptation of a Flannery O'Connor novel by the same name. Like most of her work, it is New Testament saturated.
posted by Wavelet at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2009

There are a few episodes of "The X-Files" that might fit - there's one called "Revelations", and I know one of the mythology episodes is called "Gethsemane." Later in the series (one of the final seasons) there was one about a snake-handling preacher who reads from the New Testament - ah, "Signs and Wonders." I'm sure there are more. The show "Millennium" might have more, but I can't help you there.
posted by estherbester at 2:06 PM on January 29, 2009

Obvious: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus' soliloquy on the true meaning of Christmas is Luke 2: 8-14.
posted by availablelight at 2:52 PM on January 29, 2009

Measure for Measure is...sort of like this? (It's not exactly "unrelated" to the Bible since the entire thing is sort of a riff on Matthew 7:2, but it's not really thoroughly and explicitly Biblical the way, like, The Passion of the Christ is.) And there is a film version of it by the I guess it might count?
posted by phoenixy at 3:05 PM on January 29, 2009

The show "Millennium" might have more

Yes. Yes it does. Get the first season. 80%+ of episodes are what you seek. Be prepared: it's dark. Be further prepared: not always friendly to religion on the surface. Even further: very friendly to religion if you're into the whole "subtext" thing. And finally: art direction epitomized a decade.
posted by quarantine at 4:24 PM on January 29, 2009

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