In this exclusive piece by ifilm website, Iranian feature ‘The Messiah’ themed on Jesus from an Islamic viewpoint is reviewed.
When we think of a feature on Jesus (commonly transliterated as Isa in Islam), ‘The Passion of the Christ’ comes to our most recent memory as a flick from US actor/director Mel Gibson.
While the movie has grabbed a great deal of international attention, Nader Talebzadeh’s ‘The Messiah’ can be considered as a good counterpart shedding more light on the way Islam considers Jesus based on the Quranic references and Canonical gospels.
Ahmad Soleimani-Nia plays the role of Jesus in this 2007 feature along with over 1,000 actors and extras as one of the largest film productions ever attempted in Iran.
An important dimension of the flick’s narrative regarded as “the story of Jesus through Iranian eyes” is the depiction of the Christian versus Islamic ending when it comes to crucifixion. This makes a different contribution to movies themed on Jesus and generates interfaith dialogue.
Some critics consider the flick as Iran's answer to Mel Gibson's ‘The Passion of the Christ’. To clarify where the Iranian director’s offering stands among the Jesus films, here are selected parts of an interview with Talebzadeh talking about ‘The Messiah’.
“I thought, the Christians when they see it, it'll be important for them. [In the Quran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified],” the director said of the alternate ending of his flick.
“The Muslim reverence is very high for Jesus and Mary. This is the misunderstanding in the West — especially in America,” he said, commenting that, “Mel Gibson started shooting. I saw the film [by Mel Gibson] and it's the first time the Gospel of John has ever been depicted. It was nice. But it was the wrong story. In my film, I respect that common belief with all the good intentions the Christians have ... according to what Islam says. Yet, Jesus, at the night of the last supper, ascends to heaven [without being crucified]. A beautiful man, a beautiful prophet. Why should he be bloodied that way?”