Last week I (Pastor Andy) had the pleasure of previewing the NEW Mary Magdalene Movie. The overarching theme of the movie was incredible. It was as if the movie often chose to hedge towards the cultural norm of the times or our time over what the Gospel accounts give us. There is a reason the Gospels have lasted the tests of time, these stories were out of the norm.
Rooney Mara’s acting as Mary Magdalene is incredible the intensity she brings is just fantastic. The cultural awareness of the times that the movie is set in is also very very good. Joaquin Phoenix brings a unique approach to Jesus – though I felt he was an unhinged healing hippy. Although I did love his interactions and relationship with Judas. Judas’ portrayal was also one of my favourite parts of the film. Who doesn’t love a freedom fighter wounded by an empire, seeking the liberation of his people? The relationship between Jesus and Judas was fantastic as well as that of Judas and Mary.
Mary Magdalene is portrayed in the movie as Jesus star pupil. Her outlook on the world around her is gripping. There are so many powerful and provoking accounts in the New Testament that show Jesus’ revolutionary view towards women that could have been chosen. Jesus did have female disciples, they also bankrolled the ministry – as a Pastor I can testify that they still do today. Those things are clearly stated in scripture. To get a feel for that I would recommend listening to our series from earlier this year ‘Jesus Is A Feminist‘ you can listen in the player below.
I wanted to love the Mary Magdalene Movie, because of the aim what I felt they were trying to achieve for women. At the heart of this move is something brilliant and true. But for me, it was made incredulous by its persistent ignoring of the Gospels at needless points. Lazarus not being in the tomb. Jesus tomb was sealed by Mary with little tiny stones anyone could remove. There were no guards, leaving it open for the body to go missing with ease. The resurrection was left ambiguous, more like Jesus ideals were His resurrection, not Him as a person. In many cases needlessly the account was changed with no gain for the films central theme, which for me felt as if the movie set out with an agenda to discredit.
Overall I give the film 5/10. For its representation of the Gospels, I give it 4/10. The artistic and cinematic experience 7/10. It is worth seeing. I just wished they had not sacrificed the authenticity of the story for one single point that could have been made in literally 5 different ways with ease and without sacrifice. They had truth on their side. Mary and Martha would have been a great account, Mary sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus. A position only taken by a disciple. Jesus, therefore, accepts women disciples and that they can be as He is. The woman with the issue of blood lived a life in isolation for 12 years, Jesus heals and restores. Even Lazarus resurrection could be used in a totally different way to highlight the key issue.
The Mary Magdalene Movie was enjoyable and well worth the watch. But it comes with its challenges for a Christian audience to embrace it.