This chapter reviews the critical reception of two films which depict
fictional accounts of events in the life of Jesus by Christian reviewers and
organisations. The Young Messiah (2016) has been positively received
by Christian critics, even attaining the ‘Faith-Friendly’ seal of approval
from The Dove Foundation, in spite of negative mainstream criticism. Last
Days in the Desert (2015), despite having a major star attached, had
a weaker distribution deal and was praised for cinematic quality by both
mainstream and Christian critics, though more hesitantly recommended by
Christian critics for having a somewhat uncertain relationship to
institutionally approved faith. This exploration into faith-based reception
will aid in the understanding of the relationship between the texts in this
modern wave of biblical epics, and what Christians desire to see,
stylistically and thematically, in clearly fictional explorations of their
religion’s most sacred figures.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.