Hollywood’s newest Biblical epic, “Son of God” does a major makeover to its main character. Actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus as apparently doing some serious iron-pumping along with preaching the Gospel. His Jesus looks more like “Schwarzenegger” or “Stallone” than the traditional portrayals of Jesus do. The question is “Why the make-over?”
A shortlist of actors who have portrayed Jesus in the movies include: Willem Dafoe, Ted Neely, William Powell, Max Von Sydow, H.B. Warner, Jeffrey Hunter and William Powell. None of them, attractive and charismatic as they may be, would ever be considered “hunks”. But one common trait found in all these portrayals of Jesus of Nazareth is that none of the actors were Jewish, or even “Middle Eastern”. Nor was there any attempt to make them look so.
Since no one really knows what Jesus really looked like, it’s not surprising that depictions of Jesus would be crafted to appeal to its primary “target audience”: primarily Europeans and North Americans. The few historical depictions we have reveal a gradual change from Jesus looking somewhat “Middle Eastern” to looking visibly “Anglo-Saxon European”. Hollywood has taken that even farther. In all movie portrayals, Jesus tends to look not only Anglo Saxon, but even, in “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” at least, like a “New Age Hippy”. And now, in the newly released movie “Son of God”, Jesus not only has charisma, but also Pecs and Abs.
Well, movies are essentially a business, and the primary goal of any business is to make money. That means advertising and drawing an audience. “Sex appeal” has always been a major element of any marketing campaign, but let’s hope that movie goers for “Son of God” get something more enlightening and meaningful than “beefsteak” to chew on.