Friday, March 25, 2016

Interview with the vampire author

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA AND CINEMA WATCH: Alice Cooper Interviews Anne Rice on Religion, Vampires, Tom Cruise & Pot (Billboard Magazine). As you would guess, this is a very interesting interview, touching not only on Ms. Rice's very broad-ranging work, but also on her personal background and experiences. The point of immediate interest is her Jesus novel, now a newly released movie.
Your book Christ the Lord Out of Egypt was the basis for the film The Young Messiah. In the co-writing of this movie many references were used from the Bible. Was the Apocrypha also used as a source?
Actually very little of the apocrypha was used in the novel, only the legends regarding Jesus' childhood in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which is NOT gnostic and contains legends that influenced Christian art for centuries. Nothing gnostic was used in the book whatsoever. I researched the First Century for something like ten years, off and on, probing history, archaeology, anthropology, and the bible, of course, the bible again and again and the early historians, Josephus and Philo of Alexandria. I sought to write a biblically sound and authentic novel about Jesus as a child that would bring Him alive for people, presenting a fictive day to day life for him. I wanted people to hear his laughter, smell the dust in the streets of Nazareth, to see the world in which Jesus lived; I wanted people to have a sense of Him as a real little boy, surrounded by mysteries -- the Jesus whose birth was celebrated by angels singing to shepherds, the Jesus whose birth brought Magi from the East, the Jesus whose mother had been visited by an angel.... The bible mattered infinitely more to me than the apocrypha.
The interview also discusses her much earlier book, Memnoch the Devil, which (not mentioned, but see here and here) draws on the watchers legend in 1 Enoch.

Reviews of The Young Messiah have been noted here and here. And here's another one by Noel Murray in the L.A. Times: Review 'Young Messiah' lacks passion. ("Passion." Get it, get it?)
Nowrasteh makes everything too portentous, as the boy Jesus has his first encounters with baptism, crucifixion, temple merchants and the like. At times, this movie feels too much like the Christian version of “The Phantom Menace,” offering unnecessary explanations for well-known stories.