The Chosen, an Education in Meditation
By Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 26, 2021 | In Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast
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In anticipation of Season 2 of The Chosen, the popular TV series based on the Gospels, Thomas and James take a look back at Season 1 and what made it so remarkable. They are joined by Brother Joshua Vargas, a filmmaker, artist, and novice at the Oratory in Philadelphia.
The show’s two greatest strengths are its writing, which James calls “an education in meditation on the Gospels”, and Jonathan Roumie’s outstanding, childlike yet masculine performance as Jesus, which Br. Joshua considers “equally as compelling” as Jim Caviezel’s in The Passion of the Christ. (Thomas previously interviewed Jonathan on the Catholic Culture Podcast—link below.)
The show’s writers have done an excellent job fleshing out the terse Gospel stories without losing their essence. They seamlessly interweave direct quotes from the New Testament, original writing, and Old Testament references, and pick up on minor details and references from the Gospels, sometimes building them into larger subplots or just using them as minor character details (such as Peter being a slow runner). They cleverly use traditional TV episode structure to incorporate biblical foreshadowing and parallelism. And they make the world of Jews in first-century Palestine come alive.
Any artistic rendering of a perfect human being, let alone a Divine Person, inevitably falls short in certain ways, or makes sacrifices in choosing to emphasize certain aspects of Christ. Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew portrays Jesus’s stern side. Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ focuses on His physical sufferings. The Chosen, with the luxury of multiple seasons ahead, opts for a more well-rounded portrayal, yet also makes a point of making Jesus more accessible to a modern American audience.
This is a laudable goal, and yet a certain amount of the Son of God’s majesty and mystery is lost in adaptation; however, this may be something which is developed in future seasons. Thankfully, the first season does not ring false on a theological level, with one significant exception.
Season 2 of The Chosen premieres on Easter Sunday.
Thomas’s interview with Jonathan Roumie on the Catholic Culture Podcast https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/ep-76-playing-jesus-on-chosen-jonathan-roumie/?repos=6
The Chosen on Apple App Store https://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-chosen/id1473663873
The Chosen on Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vidangel.thechosen&hl=en_US&gl=US
Follow Art by Joshua Vargas on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MiserereNobisDomine/
Buy Brother Joshua’s work on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtbyJoshuaVargas
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