So Mrs Cofty and I went to see the new movie last weekend on the gospel story told from the perspective of Mary Magdalene.
The first ten minutes are excellent and then Jesus turns up and it's all downhill from there.
It was Pope Gregory who decided in 1591 that Mary M was a penitent prostitute, even though the gospels contain no such reference. Was she the Mary from whom seven demons were cast or was she just unlucky to share a name with a different Mary? The film awards her a role as one of the apostles and gives her a prominent place at the Last Supper.
Her story in the film begins as a motherless young woman with a father and brother who want to marry her off to an older widower with children. She has other ideas.
Then the Rabbi shows up with his ragtag bunch of followers including a black Peter. Mary is enchanted by the very scruffy teacher and runs away from Magdala to follow him. Mary's father implores Jesus not to divide a man and his daughter but the Rabbi replies that he has come to divide fathers from daughters and mothers from sons - the bastard! Peter talks of the wife and children he has abandoned to follow Jesus as does Judas and others.
As the story progresses we see a conflict between the passive intentions of Jesus and the militant expectations of his followers. Judas tries to force Jesus' hand by betraying him - to the Romans oddly enough? Perhaps the scriptwriter was afraid of accusations of anti-semitism.
Spoiler alert - Jesus dies and rises.
Mary M is the only witness to this in the story and goes to tell the disciples - that goes badly. Mary gets Jesus' message. He had absolutely nothing to say in his entire ministry apart from vague platitudes about being loving and forgiving. He never even hints about overthrowing the Romans or about ever coming back later to do so. Judas was convinced of the former and Peter of the latter, but Mary was content that the 'kingdom' is nothing more than changing the world one person at a time. Essentially this gospel is, 'be nice and all will be well'. Peter and the apostles split with Mary over this and go their own ways.
The Jesus of this story is infuriating. He rambles vacuous platitudes and seems to invite misunderstanding. This is an inoffensive Jesus who has nothing to say. He creates a scene in the temple but his ranting leaves the audience unsure what he is upset about. But here is the contradiction - even in this feminised version of the gospel story Jesus is not a 'good man'. He wilfully divides families and does so even without the apocalyptic justification of the biblical story.
The cinematography is beautiful and the soundtrack is excellent. All of the characters are pathetic. The man behind me fell asleep and snored loudly. I didn't blame him.