Reviewer: Phil Boatwright Source:
Stanislav Sokolov and Derek Hayes
Ralph Fiennes, William Hurt, Rebecca Callard, Richard E. Grant, Julie Christie, Miranda Richardson, and Ian Holm.
With the use of claymation and graphically striking two-dimensional animation, ABC brings the story of Jesus to television on Easter Sunday. As a sick little girl encounters Jesus through different stages of His life, we are given a remarkably accurate retelling of Christís ministry.
Twelve-year-old Tamar (Rebecca Callard) becomes one of an ever-increasing following fascinated by the spiritual strength and leadership of this charismatic man, but her father and other people in authority are troubled by Jesusí ability to inspire the people. Plotting against him, the rich and powerful Ben Azra (Antony Sher) arranges the murder of Jesusí cousin, John the Baptist (Richard E. Grant) and stirs up the authorities against him. Using little Tamar as a composite of different people who experienced Christís healing powers, "The Miracle Maker" is able to relate the Jesus of the Bible to little ones, without sacrificing the integrity of the Gospels.
Devised to have genuine family appeal, "The Miracle Maker" combines two very different animation disciplines and adds vividly effective special effects to make this mesmerizing storytelling for all family members. As Americans are becoming more sophisticated with their appreciation of animation, hopefully they will not write this off as something just for the kiddies. It is a carefully structured and valorous attempt to tell of Christís life and purpose. We are finding that often animationís most important strength lies in its ability to avoid the familiarity of the actors playing pivotal historical roles and focus the attention on the importance of what is being said by their characters. That attempt works effectively in this production. The clay animation is great!
Jesusí baptism and Godís declaration of who He is, the devilís 40-day temptation of the Savior, Christís parables and sermons, his miracles and final sacrifice are all depicted here, honestly and forthrightly. I sat in my chair amazed that ABC would have the courage to bring the greatest story ever told to Americaís hearth, without watering down its message or the proclamation of Jesus as Messiah. The only curious thing is that at Jesus' crucifixion he is referred to as "a son of God" instead of "the son of God."
Using disciplined and textured voices, an emotional score by Oscar-winner Anne Dudley, and state-of-the-art production values, this is an entertaining, inspirational, and very well told version of the life of Christ.
If the rating numbers are there, I suspect this could be an ABC seasonal tradition. Just think of how many families over the years could be inspired by this production, if we in the Christian community support ABCís lionhearted experiment. If it isnít successful, not only do I doubt it will again see the light of ABC, but most likely that network will be hesitant to attempt other such programming. Itís up to us, folks. We can either point a pious finger at Hollywood, or we can congratulate them when they present family friendly and, in this case, spiritually rewarding fare.
Content Description: Sex: None Language: None Violence: Jesus' crucifixion which is brief and handled delicately. A little blood is shown. Drugs: None Nudity: None Other: A girl with a fever acts a bit strangely but later she is healed.