A Review (anonymous) of Mary Magdalene (2018)

How Mary is portrayed

  • Mary is shown as a fisherman—she is not portrayed as a prostitute (in the end of the movie they explain where the prostitute rumor came from).
  • Her “demons, which Jesus drives out, are portrayed as psychological rather than something supernatural.
  • When she joins the ministry of Jesus she becomes equal with apostles(!?).
  • There is no romantic or sexual relationship between Mary and Jesus. However, she is alone with him often, which seems to be a compromising position.
  • Mary is one of the 72 sent out ahead of Jesus (teaming up with Peter!?).
  • She is the one who takes on the ministry of baptizing the women who come to Jesus.

How Jesus is portrayed

  • There's no way to put it gently—Jesus is portrayed terribly.
  • The acting and delivery are just awful.
  • Also, Jesus is portrayed as a mystic man—not divine, even exerting special (limited?) powers to heal and teach.
  • At one point he asks Mary a question about the apostles, genuinely not knowing what they are doing or saying. He seems decidedly not

How the apostles are portrayed

  • In general, the ministry of Jesus and apostles take a back seat to the story of Mary.
  • Mary is treated as an equal with apostles, perhaps even above Peter!

The Good

  • Judas—Yes Judas!
  • His character in this movie gets about as much screen time as Peter. Judas is shown as a complex, sympathetic, flawed character. He tells us a lot about how Jesus is misunderstood in their day, and perhaps even in ours. Fair or not, it might be too easy to make Judas out to be a completely evil person and leave it at that. But what does it really mean to have someone walk with Jesus and betray him? This man had to mix in and assimilate with what Jesus did along with the other apostles. How could he deal with the miracles in front of him? Perhaps he was very much like us or someone we can relate to. In this movie his perspective is a well-written and sympathetic tragedy, even if pure fiction.
  • Set design and locations are amazing. Very subtle and well-done computer-generated imagery. Believable depiction of day-to-day life of the first century. Temple worship among the poor communities and family dynamics all seem so real. They take you back to how it might have really been for the first century Jews.
  • The film offers a fresh perspective on the apostles. When we view any story of the apostles walking with Christ, perhaps we are too aware of the end of the story that we already know full well, and we overlook how confused the apostles may have been. Mary Magdalenedoes a good job exploring the confusion and misunderstanding the apostles had over Jesus and his whole reason for being here, even so late into his ministry (John 14:5-9; Mark 9:33-34; Mark 10:41). Certainly this confusion also existed among the crowds: Would Jesus save the Jews from Rome? Was this a physical movement or an uprising? What was the Kingdom? Seeing the discussions and plotting among the apostles is eye-opening and relatable.

The Bad

  • This movie is simply not completely faithful to the scriptures. Scenes are truncated or omitted all-together.
  • Jesus is portrayed as a mystic, not divine.
  • Jesus depends on his mother to “recharge” emotionally.
  • The ministry of the apostles was in complete disarray most of the time.
  • Mary Magdalene has too much private contact with Jesus—which at the time would have been scandalous.
  • Mary calls herself an apostle.
  • After the resurrection, the apostles are excessively slow to believe.

Conclusion

  • However, due to a weak biblical foundation, Mary Magdalene should be approached as a work of fiction.
  • All in all, the film is still worth seeing.