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"Once upon a time, 1979 to be exact, a film on the life of Jesus was released to theatres. Called, simply, "Jesus" it had been filmed on location in the Holy Land with input from hundreds of biblical scholars and with a script that very closely followed the Gospel of Luke. Today, this film holds the distinction of being the most viewed film of all time, having been translated into 758 languages with an estimated audience of over 4 billion and over 34 million video tapes, DVDs and VCDs of the film in circulation.With that background, let's look at the "Jesus for Children" edition of the film. In one sense, this film departs from the premise of the original- to present an accurate portrayal of the story of Jesus as found in the Gospel of Luke with little embellishment. Instead of the straight scriptural story, this is the story of five children (Benjamin, Caleb, Sarah, Joel, Leah and Nathan) living in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus' ministry. They have been hearing strange stories about the man that some call a prophet and some call crazy, and they argue among themselves as to what is the truth. They follow Jesus from place to place, reporting on the miracles he is performing and the stories about him that people are telling.All of the footage of the interactions between the children is new and footage from the original "Jesus" film is used in two ways- some stories are treated as flashbacks of happenings in Jesus' life (such as his baptism) with narration from the children, while in other cases footage of the children is woven into scenes from the original film. Combining footage filmed nearly 20 years apart is bound to be a challenge, but it is done masterfully and the additional shots of the young actors fit in perfectly- it doesn't appear out of place or forced.I have enjoyed the original Jesus film through many viewings and it's still my favorite film portrayal of Jesus. My children have also sat through it more than once. However, the new version for children has many benefits. First of all, it's shorter- at 62 minutes, it's easier for the kids to digest. Another benefit is that the narration and interaction between the children go far in explaining situations and events that might otherwise be missed in the larger film (such as the conflict between Jesus and the Jewish leaders). Finally, the brutality of the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus are presented in a more kid-friendly manner.It's a well-done addition to the "Jesus Film" legacy, effectively using the existing material in a manner that is entertaining, informative and engaging for both kids and adults. This isn't a "dumbed-down" story for the kiddies, but rather a sensitive retelling of Jesus' story that works hard to put it into a framework that children can understand and more easily relate to.Highly recommended.Incidently, the DVD version is region 0 and will play in any NTSC DVD player worldwide and includes both English and Spanish soundtracks. The video is also available in VHS here on Amazon, as is the original Jesus movie in VHS and DVD."
Recommended for all families
J.R. | 01/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on legendary film with Brian Deacon as Jesus, this family oriented production gives a good opoortunities for youngsters to get familiar with the Gospel. My kids really loved it! Having seen original "Jesus", I can say that this new film takes the story a little further - children do become a part of the biblical adventure. I think it's a very good tool that can help in cleaning up our children's minds from all the violence of the modern tv and computer games. The prayer at the end of the film is also great!"
Children Meet Jesus
Susan Long | Boone, NC United States | 07/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great movie for families. The story is seen and told through the eyes of children. They tell the story of Jesus with their own words and feelings. See them walk, talk, and live stuggling with their new faith and the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus. Remember this is made for children. It delivers the Christian message without the harsh adult images found in other movies."
Video for older kids
Suz | Pawtucket, RI USA | 03/17/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this video to use in a third grade CCD class that I teach. When I previewed it, I was impressed with the effort that was put into the production of the film. But I did not show it to my class because some of the movie was too graphic for their age group. Also, some of the language would've been difficult for them to understand. I would recommend this video for the upper grades 5-6. The children narrating the movie are about that age. I wouldn't recommend it to use with younger children."
Each child is different
Susan | Adelaide | 07/10/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I would like to have seen a greater focus on Jesus, not the children. It was a little fragmenting in the opening scenes having the children each recall bits and pieces about Jesus .... you didn't know who the main character was! There were angels speaking to Mary, a baby, a temple scene, a Baptism, etc. all within a couple of minutes....
I guess that is the problem of narrating a story through the eyes of someone else, and not letting the Scriptures speak straight to you. You have to go through the 'filter' of that character; and are forever limited to seeing things from their point of view (or how the narrator portrays them). But that is a more general point about the 'narrative'.
I think movies etc. are good but especially for the younger child, who can't read; but the younger they are the more they need a movie that simply tells the story of Jesus; and does so slowly and simply, focusing upon Jesus from start to finish...For that reason the movie that just puts the Bible into pictures (as far as possible) is to be preferred- especially for the very little ones... but I recognise each child is different
I think they will get bored if the scenes change so quickly they loose the thread, not because it takes two minutes to show the wonder of say the birth; a flash back taking 10 seconds or whatever is rushing the story. i.e. I don't think much is gained by making a short version. Children love to stop and wonder where adults pass over in familarity. It is all new to them... enjoy it, dramatise the wonder... don't rush it!
I'll be going back to the original 'Jesus' movie first!... and seeing if that better meets my expectations of a film that conveys the story of Jesus in a memorable visual way to in my case young children. The ficticious characters seemed to get in the way. "