There are only 12 mentions of Mary Magdalene spread out over a mere 67 verses in the Bible. While the Bible isn’t completely silent about her, information about Mary is scarce. That hasn’t stopped people from speculating about her over the years. And it didn’t stop Hollywood from making a movie about her. After being caught up in the legal tangle that resulted from the collapse of the Weinstein brothers’ studio, Mary Magdalene has been bought by IFC Films and is now slated for a theatrical release on April 12.
Starring Rooney Mara as the title character, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Jesus’ disciple Peter, the movie was originally supposed to be released over Easter weekend of 2018. It has since been released overseas, but the film’s U.S. distribution was delayed until IFC Films stepped in and purchased it from the collapsed Weinstein company.
According to Deadline:
Mary Magdalene tells the story of one of the most misunderstood women in history, alternately vilified as a sinner and canonized as a saint. In the First Century A.D., the free-spirited Mary (Mara) flees the marriage her family has arranged for her, finding a sense of purpose in a radical new movement led by the charismatic, defiant preacher Jesus of Nazareth (Phoenix). The sole woman among his band of disciples, Mary defies the prejudices of her patriarchal society. She undergoes a profound spiritual awakening, becomes drawn into conflict with Jesus’s apostles Peter (Ejiofor) and Judas (Tahar Rahim), and finds herself at the center of an earth-shaking historical moment.
Watching the trailer, it’s apparent that the main angle of the filmmakers is to put a feminist spin on the narrative of Jesus. Mary Magdalene may be the main character, but any movie that contains Jesus Christ is going to be about him. The filmmakers apparently know this, and they’ve used their imaginative and fictional portrayal of Mary to create a Jesus that’s able to be accepted by an SJW audience.
Because of this, I am highly skeptical of the movie. No doubt, Jesus’ call to repent and turn from sin will be downplayed (if not outright ignored) in favor of an all-inclusive figure who wants everyone to love themselves just the way they are — minus, of course, the money-changers in the temple. Likewise, Jesus’ warnings about hell for those who persist in their sin will undoubtedly be absent from Mary Magdalene. The film’s portrayal of Peter appears to depict him as a patriarchal misogynist. I guess one of Jesus’ closest friends is the movie’s bad guy.
One positive, as best I can tell based on the trailer, is that the filmmakers chose not to insert the fictional romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene that progressive feminist “Christians” love to tout. There’s one scene where Mary (Jesus’ mother) asks Mary Magdalene, “You love my son, don’t you?” Based on the rest of the trailer, I’m assuming that even if Mary meant romantic love, it’s never reciprocated by Jesus. However, I won’t be shocked to find out that the movie has a sex scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. When non-Christians make movies about Bible characters, Christians expect their faith to be blasphemed. Mary Magdalene will probably not give Christians any reason to change that expectation.