Friday, August 04, 2023

The Chosen, some quick reactions

 I started watching "The Chosen" on Netflix, based on the recommendation of a friend. It's the first show about Christ I've seen since "The Passion of the Christ" (which I have professional reservations about). 

In general, the production values are good, and so are the performances. (I've seen the first episode and part of the second.) In this respect, it stands up well next to other hit shows on Netflix and other streaming services -- well enough to make me want to keep watching.

I see a couple of weaknesses, though, and they are shared by almost all films about Christ.  First of all, the Romans are portrayed as a constant oppressive presence in Capernaum, where the action (so far) takes place. This is not historically accurate. Capernaum was in Galilee (not in Judea, as stated at one point), and Galilee was under the rule of Herod Antipas. Antipas was a client king under the Romans, true, but the Romans didn't control Galilee directly. It was under Jewish control. (The Romans did have a direct rule over Judea, though, in the person of the governor Pilate and Roman soldiers could be called on as needed, although they probably didn't walk the streets like military police.) So although the show sets up the Romans as bad guys, it's unlikely that this was the case in Capernaum (and I do wish they wouldn't keep pronouncing it "Caper-num." Caper-nay-um, please.)

Secondly, as is typical, the Jewish population is shown wearing Bedouin-type clothing, which fits the Western "Orientalist" view of ancient Palestine. However, based on ancient depictions and descriptions, the inhabitants of Palestine dressed the same as everybody else did in the Greco-Roman period, i.e., with a basic tunic (a big shirt reaching to the knees) and a mantle (like the Roman toga) worn over that. In terms of clothing the Galileans and Judeans and Gentiles and civilian Romans were no doubt indistinguishable. 

We haven't seen much of Jesus so far, but in his look he appears to be a break from the Euro-Christ image we've seen so much of.  So high marks for that. 

Maybe I'll write some more on this show, who knows? But I'm not bored, so far. 

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Picky, picky, picky. 😄 Actually you will probably notice as you continue watching that sometimes they pronounce Capernaum the right way and sometimes the wrong way. I haven't paid attention to see if it's particular characters who pronounce it one way and others who pronounce it the other. Maybe it's like some people out here say Missouriee and some say Missourah. Also any historical inaccuracies about the Roman's is more than worth it inorder to have the character Quintus., as I think you will see. Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts as you watch more.