Occasionally a bit interesting, but very slow moving, and unconvincing performances by all nearly put me to sleep several times during this movie.
Sarah F. (Ferdy63) from DALTON, GA Reviewed on 11/18/2008...
Good story line about the effect of an archaeological discovery of a skeleton that could be the remains of Jesus Christ. Antonio Banderas is a Catholic priest sent to investigate the find. This also covers the conflict in Jerusalem between the Jews and Palestinians. An enjoyable and thought provoking thriller.
4 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Magnificent and Thought Provoking
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is quite a magnificent motion picture of great contrasts. It posits that a body could be found in Jerusalem in a tomb nearly 2000 years old-- a body which bears the markings of crucifixion. Is this Christ, and the end of Christianity? The answer is left to an unlikely pair, a beautiful Jewish archeologist and a Jesuit priest dispatched by the Vatican to keep things under control. Swirling around them are the ancient eddys of Jerusalem-- Orthodox Jews, the government, radical Muslims and of course, the Church, all with an interest, and an agenda. Set in the beautiful Holy City, cinematography is vivid and real and immediate. We are taken about the city as this story unfolds, and the main characters go about their quest, tossing it up at times in fiery misunderstanding and finally forging an alliance for truth.Antonio Banderas as Father Matt Gutierrez exquisitely portrays a brave man of simple faith dedicated to his task. This is a deep and sensitive performance, stunning in its restraint, strong and true to its torn character. Olivia Williams, beautifully portrays the scientist challenging him to think as a scientist. She is utterly believeable. But she is no more successful with him than he with her in his efforts to think with her heart. Yet mind and heart come together as they subtly build their trust and face the maelstrom which confronts them. But the viewer will not want to be told more. The supporting cast was quite excellent-- there were no missteps in these choices. A challenging film to the faith of the viewer, and a magnificent lesson on dealing with the crisis of the millenium, both good and bad.A challenge to the mind after viewing, as this viewer has rolled thoughts and precepts around and around. And a call to prayer at the same time. This is a must-see movie."
Superb, engaging religious film...
Illyria777 | Provo, UT USA | 07/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never would have expected to find such a deep message about faith in such a secular movie, but The Body was better than I heard it was. The movie is about an Israeli archaeologist who believes she has found the body of Christ hidden in an ancient secret tomb behind a rich man's tomb, her theory being that the disciples hid the body in the secret tomb and continued to proclaim that Christ rose from the dead. Antonio Banderas plays a Catholic priest sent by the Vatican to prove that it isn't Christ's body. And this movie has a lot. It goes deep into the attention to the details of Christ's death as recorded in the gospels. It touches on the Shroud of Turin. It explains various archaeological methods of dating. It has characters from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic backgrounds, and it deals with the questions of religion v. politics v. science as well as faith v. evidence, and also, was Christ only a good man and a good teacher, or was He God? Is that important? Plus, it's got a good deal of modern Hebrew in it (being a student of modern Hebrew, that got me really excited). The heated discussions between Catholic Antonio Banderas and his agnostic archaeologist counterpart are engaging, and I found myself enjoying his "subtle style of Jesuitical debate." But what impressed me most was that this movie could say so many nice things about Jesus. I thought that Hollywood wouldn't let the J-word onto the big screen unless it was to take it in vain, but this movie goes against that trend. If I have one fault to pick with this movie, it's that, in the end, it doesn't offer a very favorable portrayal of the Catholic church, and I'm quite tired of seeing Catholics portrayed as the bad guys. Still, this movie has enough originality and intrigue about it to warrant five stars. If discussing religious philosophy is something you like to do, buy this movie."
A real missed opportunity
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 07/11/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"**1/2 What could be sadder for lovers of great movies than a case of missed opportunity? So many films are so piddling in their ambition, scope and purpose that, as jaded moviegoers, we crave that rare film that will tackle monumental themes, fearless of consequences and immune to compromise."The Body" had the potential to be one of the most provocative and controversial films of recent times - a film so challenging in its theme that it would make "The Last Temptation of Christ" look like a Sunday School lesson. Let's face it: you don't win popularity contests by challenging the very foundation of one of the world's core religions (as the brouhaha over "Temptation" a dozen or so years ago testified). Alas, for all its potential for greatness, "The Body," after displaying the temerity to pick up the ball and run with it, fumbles badly long before it makes it out of home territory.The premise of the film is daring, ingenious and courageous: an archaeologist, a young Jewish woman named Sharon Golban, has uncovered what could well turn out to be the find to end all finds - the body of a crucified man laid in a rich man's tomb, in other words, the possibly unresurrected body of Jesus Christ. The implications of this discovery - for history, for religion, for the world as a whole - would, of course, be overwhelming and mind-boggling. However, a theme of such shattering monumental proportions cries out for a filmmaker of commensurate stature to cope with the many moral complexities that such a premise lends itself to. Unfortunately, writer/director Jonas McCord is not that filmmaker. I haven't read the novel (written by Richard Ben Sapir) upon which the film is based, but I can attest to the fact that, after an intriguing beginning, "The Body" falls far short of its very real promise. In many ways, the film is a maddening tease, promising to be a morally and intellectually challenging experience, yet in the end leaving us feeling empty, compromised and cheated.So where exactly does the film go wrong? For one thing the scope of the film is simply too small. A story of this size needs to be dealt with on a more global scale. The implications of such a discovery would most likely turn the world as we know it upside down and, thus, we yearn for a treatment that would be commensurate with that possibility. Somehow, the characters that have been chosen to act out the drama fail to fire up our imaginations. Sharon, the archaeologist, is aided in her research by a hunky Central American Jesuit priest named Father Gutierrez (Antonio Banderas) whom the Vatican has chosen (for truly obscure reasons) to essentially debunk the finding. (As in virtually every film in which they appear, the Catholic hierarchy is portrayed as an assortment of nefarious, two-faced, worldly villains whose only goal is to maintain their power at any and all costs). The injection of Father Gutierrez into Sharon's world leads to a few insightful clashes between science on the one hand and faith on the other - as well as a lot of predictable romantic palaver between the two principals. The movie does address the issue of whether or not a person's faith in God (or Christianity in general) would somehow be annihilated if the resurrection could be proved a falsehood. Derek Jacoby, as a dedicated archaeologist/priest, answers that question one way, while Father Gutierrez answers it another. The film also makes an effort to explore the psyche of the dedicated archaeologist who puts all her faith in reason and has none left over for God. She also realizes that she has the power to thrust the world into a spiritual turmoil the likes of which it has never seen before - and she begins to question whether even her own dedication to truth and science can justify such an act.At such times, the film has a certain ring of truth about it. But, perhaps through fear of stepping on too many toes or seeing too many picketers outside the theatres, McCord keeps cutting away from the central story to feature a truly ludicrous and uninteresting subplot about a group of Palestinian terrorists who are attempting to "kidnap" the remains so they can be used as the ultimate bargaining chip should the Catholic Church decide to support Israel in keeping Jerusalem out of Palestinian hands. (McCord seems less concerned about Palestinian protestors than Christian ones). Thus, at crucial moments when the film seems finally to be engaging its complex theme, we are deflected into the mundane world of action cinema filled with such staples as car chases, shoot outs, slow motion explosions etc. This is an insult both to the profundity of the story and the sensibilities of the audience.So will "The Body" ultimately offend its most devout viewers, those who may find that even suggesting such a possibility as the film posits qualifies as blasphemy of the highest order? I really can't speak for them. All I know is that, as a spiritually dispassionate moviegoer who appreciates a provocative theme when it comes along, "The Body," thanks to its overall muffing of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - for what filmmaker is ever going to want to tackle this subject again? - offends me for a great many other reasons."
The Body never rises to its potential.
Dave Cordes | Denver, CO | 07/10/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was drawn to this film by its interesting "What If" premise. Banderas plays a Jesuit priest comissioned by the Vatican to debunk the possibility that the body of Christ has been found in an excavated tomb in Jerusalem, the validity of which could obviously be disasterous to the Church if it is proved that the Resurrection was just a myth as suggested by the skeletal remains indicating that Jesus was merely just a man. With this kind of theological dillema, the plot sets up a great conflict not only for Banderas as Father Matt Gutierrez who struggles against his faith from the subjective truth that could be revealed, but the implication it will have for Israel between the Christians, the Jews, and the Moslems all fighting for control of the Holy Land. Unfortunately, as is the case with just about any film that touches on religious subject matter, it never has a chance to answer any of the big questions it asks from the start. By the time the film ends, we know nothing more about "Dem Bones" then we did from the beginning (Alpha and Omega) which can lead one to draw their only conclusions or beliefs about the validity of The Body, but what more could you really be expecting... the Second Coming? The problem with religious films is that they usually try to lure you into the theater under false pretense with the dramatic premise, then try to beat you over the head with a proverbial Bible to convert the audience to their ideology (i.e. The Judas Project and The Omega Code). Fortunately, this is not the case with The Body. The film's mediocrity is probably attributed mostly to its low-budget feel and production value. I was excited to see Vilmos Zsigmond credited as the Director of Photography but completely forget about him while watching the film. I was disappointed because a cinematographer of his repertoire (Close Encounters, Deliverance) could have given this film just the atmospheric lift it needed in support of the dramatic subject. Gladiator alumns, Derek Jacobi and John Schrapnel are aptly cast in supporting roles reminiscent of their conspiring Roman Senators Gracchus and Gaius from Gladiator. Even with a star like Banderas attached, you can tell that no studio wanted to touch this and it is evident from the lack of theatrical distribution and marketing support for the film. The Body came and went in theaters and no one ever knew or will probably ever care. Perhaps that, in itself, is a bigger statement about society's genuine interest in religious hypothesis."
CRISP FILM ABOUT FAITH & SCIENCE
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 10/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'd take issue with the reviewers here who have said that The Body was just a fuzzy muddle of religion and theology. There is nothing quite shimmering about any ONE element of the movie, not Banderas, not Olivia Williams. It is the whole premise, and the thought-provoking + sensibly handled storyline that carries the movie. It is not a doozy spin. Everything from archaelogical science to the Gospels to the Bible to Talmud (Orthodox) makes into the intelligent dialog, and there are points where you can savor some pithy but patient debate. At one point in the movie, a publisher of a theological journal says "Religion is not based on a rational system of facts. It is driven by human needs." Such is unfortunately the nature of the beast, this is why movies with textured topical themes (such as The Life of David Gale) do not ring at the boxoffice. It is easy to see why this did not do well with ordinary international audiences -- it braces difficult questions. To add to its woes, it was released around the touchy times of 2001 when Israel/Palestine/Christianity was the last thing that the world was interested in. Overall, although the movie meanders a little in the second half, it does a fantastic job of illustrating the fear and loathing that is rife in our world today, and how very trivial some of these issues really are. Still, millions hang by these simple notions. Maybe open-mindedness is what is needed to appreciate this movie for what it was intended to be. The only minor grouse I have was the rushed, half-baked denouement. Kind of killed the beauty of the movie as a whole. Oh, and it is also an action movie. Action against breath-taking backdrops of Jerusalem. Highly recommended!"