The Penitent Mary Magdalene (1825) Civica Gall...

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Seemingly a straight-to-DVD product, The Parable of the Christ (2006), by George Jiha, could have been better acted and better directed, in that order, but after seeing it five times I now consider it a commendable film.  Mick Shane is incisive and pleasantly subdued as the almost morally perfect lover and then husband of a prostitute he calls Violet (real name: Lucy), played by Sylvie Hoffer.  Indisputably Hoffer is beautiful–and capable of real sweetness–but her acting is poor, as is that of several other cast members.  Jiha’s bright story has the Shane character, Josh, fall in love with and actually start spying on Violet before he learns she is a hooker.  Subsequently he befriends her and the two go out on platonic dates.  Josh is not interested in sex, albeit Violet, after Josh’s kindness to her, is—and she can no more depersonalize Josh than he can depersonalize her.  Not long after he tells Violet he loves her, Josh proposes marriage.  It is only after the wedding that they have sex.

Happy times do not last, though.  The former prostitute has a life-threatening venereal disease and she unwittingly infects her husband with it.  Both she and Josh are now dying, but Josh directs no blame at Violet.  Remorseful, Violet runs away from Josh, though not for very long.  It pleases Violet’s husband, the “Christ” of Jiha’s film, that Violet has bloomed, has changed, via his love-giving, and he is content, well, to die for her.  And die he does.  He and Violet are granted immortality, however, being reunited in Paradise.  There is transcendence, then, and their love need not perish.

It is valid to say that Josh is not really a Christ figure–he does spy on Violet, after all–or that he is only a partial Christ figure.  To be as precise as possible, he is simply a character in a parable who loves his inamorata with a Christlike love.  Violet is “reborn” because of him, although it would seem she is reborn also because of something else since, after she dies, she makes it to Heaven.  Perhaps she is the Mary Magdalene to Josh’s Christ-man (notwithstanding Josh is not the one who takes her to Heaven) and so is free to enter the Kingdom.  Mirabile dictu, she is made a Christian while Josh, with his Christlike love, already is one.

Nonverbal friendship and marital love scenes in Parable are frequently trite, although the final sequence in Heaven is lovely.  The talking scenes are the ones that matter. . .

The Parable of the Christ has its assets.  It isn’t boring.  Jiha has something to say and says it in a tasteful and charming way.  Some may find the film pallid, but after five viewings I don’t think it is.  It has its own vitality.  It deserves to be seen.