Great film, but stay away from the DVD
A. Pisarenkov | Arlington, VA | 06/25/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"One of the biggest travesties of modern cinema is that director Valerio Zurlini is not better known. "Black Jesus" is a masterpiece in every sense. An even bigger travesty, however, is the Ivy Video DVD (the only one available in the US as far I know). It is dubbed, and while there is no such thing as a good dubbing job, this one is worse than most, and this just about ruins the film. In addition, the print used for the DVD transfer looks like it was pulled from the dumpster, and the sound mix is abysmal."
SBLove99 | New Orleans, La. | 02/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautiful Italian film that tells the story of actual incidents that occurred in the Congo durinig colonial rule. The director takes the story of Jesus and places it in the Congo, which was, even back in the early 70s, too provocative for most people to swallow.
Woody Strode, a great African-American actor, that is best known for his role in the epic movie Spartacus, stars as Black Jesus aka Maurice Lalubi. His character, Lalubi, (could that be a veiled reference to Lumumba?), is being hunted down by the authorities because he has stirred up the African masses with his speeches that encourages them to fight against the Belgium regime. The opening sequences are the most stirring, when Lalubi is speaking to his people, you hear his voice and see his shadow, but he doesn't physically appear until he is caught, later on in the film.
What is unique about this film is that it takes both the religious & the political context of the story of Jesus and places it within one frame and then sets it within the colonial era.
As for the quality of the film it is not the best transfer to DVD, and the dubbing is slightly off, but I mean, its not as bad as some of those old Kung Fu movies that are just completely off, we're talking maybe a second or two. The film has a sort of gritty look to it that somehow lends itself to the context of the story.
Some of the scenes, particularly the relationship that builds in prison between Lalubi & a white prisoner who has also been tortured by the belgian police are over-extended, but overall the long scenes have a great dramatic effect.
The movie definitely leaves you thinking and provokes discussion, which is what all good films should do.