Thriller
The Body
.
Dir: Jonas McCord
Star: Antonio Banderas, Olivia Williams, John Shrapnel, Jason Flemyng, Derek Jacobi
Cert / Year: 12 - PG-13 / 2000
Format: DVD R2
'

Israeli archeologist Sharon Golban (Olivia Williams) discovers an ancient skeleton sealed inside a tomb under Jerusalem. Discolouration of the bones and visisble wounds to them indicate that the cause of death was crucifixion. In the region of the tomb, other signs, including a gold coin bearing the marks of Pontius Pilate, lead the local authorities to suspect that these could be the bones of Christ. The Church, eager to quell such a harmful rumour (to them) despatch Father Gutierrez (Antonio Banderas) to debunk the find no matter what. Amidst political wranglings, terrorist activities and his investigation, Gutierrez is forced to question his faith as the unthinkable truth becomes more and more undeniable.

Interesting idea but this isn't a new concept so it manages to lack the originality and conviction to successfully pull this story off. The film also falls short somewhat, because to be honest it takes the viewer for granted. There are numerous instances throughout the film which involve religious and biblical references, but they aren't elaborated upon or laymanised for the viewers who don't have a firm grasp on the old sunday school or religious studies teachings. If you fall into the latter category then there are going to be plenty of moments where you will be left quite perplexed and confused as various religious mythologies are cast about hap hazardly. Overrall it appears that the writer / director Jonas McCord assumes everyone that watches this film will have a religious background or a University degree in religious studies. There have been several films that have attempted to broach the tentative subject of the "resurrection" and possible causes to undermine religion in general and each of them have highlighted the power hungry machinations of the Church, to the extent of ensuring the truth is never known by the followers or the world in general as they strive to protect their position in the world. This is invariably accompanied by political corruption, so nothing new there either. To be honest, this just isn't particuarly impressive and does little to endear any of the religious factions and organisations featured. For my money I have to say that Stigmata is a far better film and much more entertaining, with a more realistic approach to the whole audience / religion concern.

Before you even broach the heavy pseudo-religious clap trap that is the story, you have to contend with some truly unbelievable characters. First you have the "eminent" and suspiciously un-tattooed (Assuming you know that generally they are tattooed) "field archeologist" Olivia Williams) who in addition to having a very proper English accent and pale skin, is apparently Israeli. That is just the start of her failings. Secondly you have Antonio Banderas playing an American Catholic priest who is a former Israeli Secret Service agent. At this point I will point out a major flaw with that characterisation, he walks into traps and cannot fight his way out of a paper bag, not to mention a general lack of intelligence. Another totally unbelievable character which is a shame because at times, Banderas has some very good scenes, but they are let down by an unimpressive script. The love interest also fails, on multiple levels. Good supporting performances by Brit actors Derek Jocobi and Jason Flemyng who is reduced to a "comic relief" type role.

The major flaw of course is that IF, by some fluke an archeologist had uncovered an old tomb in the middle of downtown Jerusalem, and IF it were even remotely possible that it contained the skeleton of Christ, then due to it's importance the whole site would be so tightly guarded that not even a gnat could get through. This is of course bearing in mind that a dig of that significance would not be left to one archeologist, and would more likely be permanently surrounded by military or heavily armed police as opposed to a couple of your very cliche "inept guards R us" suited wonders.

This should have / could have been quite a good film if only Jonas McCord had decided on exactly what it wanted to be. The Body goes all around the houses but ultimately goes nowhere. Something like this should have been a thought provoking journey able to deliver a poigniant message, but instead you get a poor and unstimulating pseudo-religious waffle with no direction or atmosphere. The severe questioning of religion was handled much better in Stigmata but this does have a similar outcome. Instead of highlighting the evils of religion, the fact that more wars have begun and more people have died in the name of religion over the years than anything else. The film does however mix the dreaded religion and politics and it would be nice if it did so in a balanced and fair way, but it doesn't so I think the less said about that, the better.

The direction by McCord is terribly lacking despite one or two good set pieces and his use of the camera is ill advised and quite unfocussed. Day rapidly turns into night as editing is obviously left in the hands of a complete novice or just an incompetent. The pacing is also rather poor as the film meanders lazily through it's running time, with neither atmosphere nor script to save it. Questioning the resurrection is a fine angle for a story. But, this needed someone with experience of archeology to write such a heavy archeology dependant script and someone with more experience to direct it. There is no attention to detail and the characterisations are just unbelievable. What should be a good cause to an interesting theological argument is reduced to being just average in every way.

Tagline

If this is His tomb... If this is the truth... It would change history and destroy the belief of millions

Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Good quality transfer
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Good but nothing impressive
Features Semi - animated menu
Some behind the scenes footage cobbled together
Theatrical Trailer
Cast interviews
Cast biographies
Verdict Not especially good disc to be honest. There are some extras but nothing exciting or terribly interesting

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home