The producers of the hit television miniseries "The Bible" have stated that their new film "Son of God" is meant to be a "love story" for an "under-served" audience.
"By the time you get to His arrest in Gethsemane, you really feel that you know Him and you love Him. And you really feel awful that this could be happening," said Mark Burnett, co-producer of "Son of God."
"Within that sweeping drama and tension there was this intimacy of this love story of Jesus," added Burnett, who hoped viewers of the film "fall in love with Jesus."
Burnett and his wife Roma Downey head LightWorkers Media. When comparing past film and television projects about the life of Jesus, Downey told The Christian Post that it has been years since the last major film about Jesus had been released.
"Remember that Jesus hasn't been on the big screen in 10 years. It was a decade ago that 'The Passion of the Christ' came out," said Downey.
"As amazing as that film was it dealt with only three days in the life of Jesus. Where 'Son of God' tells the story of Jesus' life from His birth in our Christmas story through to His death, His resurrection, right into the Ascension, and the film ends with the Great Commission."
A Sweeping Story
Edited from the content of portions of "The Bible" miniseries, "Son of God" explores the life of Jesus through the narration of St. John, author of the last Canonical Gospel.
Scenes in the film include Jesus calling Peter, healing and forgiving the paraplegic, feeding the five thousand, and his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Burnett told CP that the film "manages to be big and epic, like a full on feature film that people expect to see in the movie theater in 2014."
"It's a drama; there's a lot of tension that feels like you really were in those days," said Burnett, "you could actually walk beside the disciples and feel how frightening it really was in those days when clearly the Romans or the Temple authorities could just arrest you or have you killed."
Burnett also spoke highly of Diogo Morgado, the Portuguese actor who portrayed Jesus, referring to him as a "strong but loving Jesus."
"His portrayal was beautiful and he didn't make the word 'meek' be confused with the word 'weak,'" said Burnett.
Downey referred to the film as a "beautiful sweep of His story told in English as it brings Jesus to the big screen for a whole new generation."
"Our job is to emotionally connect to be able to bring a story to life on the screen in a way that would draw the viewer in and engage, fully engage them," said Downey.
Catering to an Under-Served Audience
With the major commercial success of the History Channel miniseries "The Bible" in 2013, many have speculated that Hollywood may begin launching more biblically themed projects.
In addition to "Son of God," the film "Noah," starring Russell Crowe and produced by Paramount Pictures, is scheduled to be released next month.
When asked by CP if the entertainment industry may be looking to create more projects with biblical settings and themes, Downey responded that she felt "that seems to be accurate."
"We know that there are a number of faith projects in the pipeline," said Downey, who talked about the upcoming LightWorkers project "A.D.," which follows the lives of the disciples after Jesus' ascension.
"We find it encouraging … that the success of "The Bible" series with a hundred million viewers showing up revealed to our industry that there is a huge audience for these kinds of projects, an audience that I think has often been under-served."
"The feedback we're getting is that people who are nonbelievers have been touched by the movie," added Downey, noting that one non-Christian journalist who had seen an advanced screening of the film said "the movie moved her" to be "open to investigating" more about Jesus.
Directed by Christopher Spencer and starring Diogo Morgado as Jesus, Darwin Shaw as Peter, Sebastian Knapp as John, and Greg Hicks as Pilate, "Son of God" is slated to be released in the United States on Feb. 28.