Hollywood executives have a love/hate relationship with believers and the Bible. Faith-based movies are performing increasingly well at the box office. In response, executives are greenlighting more of what they believe are redemptively-themed, biblically based movies. Instead, they’re making movies that take liberties with the Bible and ridicule the faith of the very audience they wanted to attract. Exodus: Gods and Kings and Noah are two examples. What is Hollywood thinking?
New movies like Woodlawn and Risen are exceptions to this trend. These movies are excellent and faithful to the Bible and orthodox Christianity.
Enter The Young Messiah, a movie about young Jesus as he and his family return to Nazareth from Egypt. The Bible is mostly silent on this period in Jesus’s life, giving the movie a high probability of going off the rails regarding its accuracy and orthodoxy. Despite this danger, The Young Messiah may be one of the best faith-based movies of the year.
Chris Columbus produced The Young Messiah and released it through his production company, 1492 Pictures. Columbus’s other movies include Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter movies.
Cyrus Nowrasteh directed the movie and co-wrote it with his wife, Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh. The Nowrastehs loosely based the script on Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. I met Cyrus Nowrasteh at a preview screening and was impressed at the lengths he and his wife went to write a compelling story while retaining a high level of biblical integrity. A believer himself, Nowrasteh says in this short video that making The Young Messiah was “the most humbling experiences of his career.”
The movie also goes to great lengths to be historically accurate. The plot unfolds during a volatile period in Israel’s history. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt to avoid the “Massacre of the Innocents” ordered by Herod the Great.
When Herod dies, an angel tells Joseph to return to Nazareth. Joseph is afraid to return when he hears Herod’s son, Archelaus, has succeeded the Judean throne. (Matt. 2:22) The Jews revolt after Herod’s death, and Archelaus orders a massacre during Passover to stem the uprising. Eye-witness and historian Josephus reports that 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. Joseph was possibly aware of these events.
The movie vividly illustrates this political tumult as the family returns home. One scene shows hundreds of Jews being crucified as Archelaus attempts to squash potential rebellion.
The Young Messiah is an excellent movie. A reviewer writes:
“The Young Messiah” shows lots of homework was done. No trendy twenty-first-century ideas plopped in. No outlandish “what if” musings (beyond Jesus bringing a bird back to life). The dialogue is so carefully crafted that every word effortlessly rings true in these fully fleshed-out and delightful characters. The text of the Scriptures is faithfully adhered to (without really taking liberties) and then sundry plot points–that totally work–are skillfully woven in to bring life to the text. Every scene is to support the text, not draw away from it. All exposition is invisible and clever. The almost all-British cast slays it.
Here is what people are saying about The Young Messiah:
- “Extremely powerful and emotional.” – Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
- “Extraordinary.” – Hugh Hewitt, radio talk show host
- “Incredibly entertaining; spiritually inspiring. You MUST see it.” – Johnny Hunt, former head of Southern Baptist Convention
- “Remarkable…tightly paced, excellently scripted and well-filmed.” – Focus on the Family
- “Fresh, unique, biblical, historical, captivating.” – Christine Caine, President, A21
- “Captivating, inspiring and deeply moving.” – Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Boston
- “An exceptional movie, engaging from start to finish.” – Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
- “I just loved The Young Messiah.” – Denny Rydberg, president, Young Life
- “Inspiring, entertaining, and affirming. Amazing!” – Sam Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
- “Powerful and poetic.” – Dr. John Stumbo, president, The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Go see this movie and send a message to Hollywood that this is the kind of movie you want to see made.