The Beast- Next Big Controversial Movie?

I was talking to my brother today, and he asked me if I heard about an upcoming movie about a girl who discovers proof that Jesus never existed. He said it’s even going to come out on June 6 (6/6/06). I thought it sounded like an urban legend, and said that to him, but he told me that it is in fact quite real. Then I asked him if it was supposed to be a comedy, but he told me that it’s very serious. I looked it up and found out that it indeed is:

Before I go any farther, I have to admit that I’m a christian, and am not hip enough that I don’t find the message offensive- or at least I would if I took the movie seriously. The movie, by the way, does take itself seriously and is meant to be persuasive. Personally, I think that releasing it on June 6 with the intent to shock really only undermines it’s efforts to be taken seriously. You can see the trailer here:
I do have to say that the “I’m not afraid” mantra and the themes of the protagonist’s inner struggle that goes along with it does give some potential to be effective and very human if they focused on that and cut some of the other stuff out.

I could keep going right now. I’d have a lot of fun picking this movie apart, but that would be jumping the gun. What do you people think about this movie, both as an entertainment movie and a persuasive one? How credible do you think it might be?

In any case, I predict a shitstorm over this movie, and I’m not looking forward to it. I expect a lot of gnashing of teeth from the christian right, and they will say, “this just another part of the war on christianity”. They’d really be better off just ignoring it, or even better would be to become the movie’s biggest audience, like how Reefer Madness is popular among stoners.

I think Flemming is counting on that and he should. If Batboy the Musical (which I haven’t seen performed but have read) and The God Who Wasn’t There are indicative of his talent he needs all the help he can get. I’m predicting that more likely it’ll barely make a blip, play some film festivals, get a small cult audience on DVD perhaps but never be hailed as a masterful example of anything.
Hijack: On the subject of TGWWT, I’m an atheist and love the history of religion and had negative experiences at a very conservatively religious private school myself and I still say that this was one of the most smartass, confused and self-indulgent documentaries I’ve ever seen- make up your mind Bryan, is this a documentary about you or Jesus [especially that pointless final scene in the chapel]? He had great interviewees but wasted them, so by far the best parts are the extended interviews, plus the whole thing looked like something an alternative kid who thinks iconoclasm is cool in and of itself did in a school media lab.

Right- it sounds like it could cause a very shallow, goofy controversy. As opposed to “shaking Christianity to its very core!” or whatever. Just from the plot summaries, it appears to be kind of a dumb answer to The Da Vinci Code.

Interestingly, if this is all real, a remake of The Omen is coming out on the same day. It sounds like some movie producers think all you need to make a movie is a catch release date.

They’re going to release a movie on a Tuesday? Hopefully we can get protesters so I have a reason to go see it.

How the heck do you find proof that someone didn’t exist? Especially 2000 years ago. There are people today writing books that claim that Jesus didn’t exist. These don’t particularly convince believers. In fact, they don’t convince me, but they include ancient authors saying things about Christ and Christians that believers wouldn’t believe, and would find offensive. It doesn’t make a difference. What did the person in this film find? A notarized affidavit?

Naah ! A graffiti : “Jesus wasn’t here”

What does this mean? It’s even more of a tangle than a normal ‘double negative’. And what do the two constituent parts have to do with one another anyway? How does one’s level of ‘hipness’ affect whether one is inclined to find something offensive?

I wonder if this is anything like the movie that was supposed to come out around 2000 called God, starring Brad Pitt as God and Elizabeth Shue as God’s love interest.

Choosing 06/06/06 as a release date is stupid. That’s fine for horror entertainment like the above stated Omen, but not if you want anyone to take you seriously. On top of that new studies of the Dead Sea scrolls have noted that the aforementioned 666 is not the so called number of the beast and was an interperative/mathematical mistake by earlier scholars.

What new studies? (honestly. i’m fascinated by eschatology.)

Then don’t see it :slight_smile:
Any controversy is likely to increase the popularity (The Da Vinci Code being the case in point, IMHO that was a run-of the mill pulp thriller, it was only the controversy around it that made it such a hit). The filmmaker has every right to put whatever message he wants in his film. If you disagree make your own movie about how great and real JC was.

The discussion of over the historical accuracy of the New Testament, and the early history of christianity, is a valid (if rather pointless) one. I actually find it quite intresting, though both sides rapididly get away from historical fact and into myth and legend.

Right now I’m willing to watch any film that has at least had a little thought put into it and isn’t a pointless remake, sequel, or computer game conversion. Hell… I’m happy if they at least put a bit of thought in the TITLE (I mean “Snakes on a Plane” are they just taking the p**s or what ?).

Bit of a hijack but I’ve not seen any really convincing evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls have any connection to the new testament at all (the theories based on 7Q5 seem very sketchy to me) . Even if there was it could not possibly have contained anything from the book revalation which was written, at the earliest, in the late 60’s.

See, I don’t know what kind of movie The Omen is but the 6/6/06 release date would be perfect for a Rob Zombie movie or something like that.

I was wondering about that myself. Personally, I think it would be really cool if it was something inside of a box that light came out of when you opened it, like the box in Kiss Me Deadly.
The DaVinci Code was much better off because Dan Brown could have a big somewhat mysterious organization like the Catholic church as the villains, but here they’re plain fundamentalists. Oh no, it’s James Dobson!

Well, it was sort of tongue in cheek. I enjoy movies like The Last Temptation of Christ and Dogma without finding them offensive (though some parts of LTOC disturbed me and were probably meant to), but I’m not “hip” enough to be cool with this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to protest it or anything. And actually I think it might be fun to see. And I am aware that there are some credible questions about the NT, but this guy sensationalizes him. On his website it says he was called a “young Oliver Stone”, and I think that says a lot about him. Note that I don’t like Oliver Stone.

The Beast is just a fictional treatment of the case for Jesus Mythicism (the belief that Jesus never existed) presented in The God That Wasn’t There. The “I’m not afraid” refrain is actually in reference to Hell, judgement and other scare tactics used in Fundamentalist Christianity. The director was raised as a hardcore fundie, went to fundie schools, etc. and is coming at things from the angle of a (now atheist) who had an abusive relationship with Christianity and still has some issues with it. In TGTWT he goes back to his old school to grill his old principal about some things.

I don’t know why The Beast would be particularly controversial. The premise is that evidence is discovered that Jesus never existed (what kind of evidence could prove that, I have no idea) but really, that’s just a clothesline to present the mythicist case largely as it has been formulated by Earl Doherty. I personally don’t think Doherty is 100% persuasive but he makes some good points and he’s more than just a “Passover Plot” or “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” type of crank. Obviously, a lot of Christians are going to be annoyed at the mythicist premise, but in an odd way it lends itself to less controversy than something like DaVinci Code because it doesn’t posit any wacky theories or slurs against a historical Jesus. I think Christians tend to just shrug off opinions that Jesus didn’t exist rather than getting very offended by it. I doubt a lot of fundies will go see the movie but I don’t think they’ll picket the thing either. My prediction is that this thing will come and go pretty quickly.

Okay, I’ll point out some of his arguments here and what I think about them. I’ll start with the trailer:

Augustine wasn’t that bad of a guy, was he? Anyway, I don’t know about anyone else, but I no longer find the “christians did bad stuff” argument convincing.

From the movie’s website:

Does anyone here know if that’s true? I thought scholars were mostly neutral on the subject.

I’m not sure what exactly he means by saying that the Gospels aren’t supposed to be biographies. I mean, they are accounts of Jesus’s ministry that aren’t written in chronological order, so I don’t know if they qualify as biographies. Actually, what I think he means is that the authors of the Gospels didn’t believe they were true. Is there any merit at all to this claim?
As for the rest of the quoted part, I don’t see that as significant.

Sure most christians will shrug it off, but if anyone protested it would be a vocal minority.
So you think that in today’s political climate they won’t make hay about it? I have a bit of a hard time believing that.

Maybe a secret, sealed Roman military report describing the quashing of the Judean Evil Sedition United Syndricate in 30 A.D.? Complete with Daguerreotypes?

And mummies. Mummies stacked like cordwood. That’ll prove something.

It’s technically true but a tad misleading. It’s true that Jesus Mythicism has gained a little more credibility with NT scholars with a handful who accept it or profess agnosticism on the issue but the vast majority still accept a Historical Jesus. If you study the NT or Christian origins at Harvard or Princeton or Yale. you will be taught that Jesus was an authentic historical figure but that it is extraordinarily hard to figure out what we can know about him with any real certainty.

Some. It is true that most scholars believe the Gospels (at least the narratives) are mostly fictional. To simplify as a much as possible, the belief is that a core sayings tradition, along with a few bare facts and possibly some anecdotes from oral tradition served as a baseline of knowledge for the authors, to which they added narrative fictions of their own. The question of whether they “believed” those fictions is largely a matter of perspective. Much of what was used to construct those narratives came from Old Testament passages and inferences from same which the authors probably sincerely believed to be about Jesus. The belief is that the authors (especially Mark, who wrote the first Gospel and the one that served as a template for Matthew and Luke) were starting out with very little actual knowledge about Jesus and so they looked to scripture for what they believed would contain information or hints about him and worked from there. For example, the OT expectation is that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (because it was the birthplace of David). There seems to have also been an established tradition (still present in Mark and John) that Jesus was from Nazareth. Matthew and Luke therefore each independently wrote Nativity stories which allowed (for different reasons) for Jesus to have been born in Bethlehem but grow up in Nazareth. The stories are wildly contradictory because each author seems to have written without knowledge of the other but each author probably still believed he was telling a basic historical truth (Jesus HAD to have been born in Bethlehem).

There were also some other things going on the Gospels where the authors seemed to be trying to make symbolic points (Matthew’s flight to Egypt was intended to compare Jesus to Moses) which they probably knew was not literal history but told a more essential religious truth.

On second thought, you’re probably right. If the usual media demagogues begin to decry it as an attack on Christians it will probably get the rabble roused up.

It’s funny that those same demagogues never stop to consider that movies like The Passion oresent a message, by definition, that all religions beside Christianity are false.

I’m guessing this isn’t an X-Men spinoff.