Report to the Emperor-First Draft

(I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic, and I thought that our Almost Chosen People readers might find it of interest.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once! (more…)

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Published in: on March 30, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Report to the Emperor-First Draft  
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Screen Pilates: Pilou Asbæk

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Keith Mitchell, Leif Erickson, Peter Firth, David Bowie, Lowell Gilmore,  Hurd Hatfield, Vincent Regan, Arthur Kennedy, Gary Oldman and Ian Holm may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here , here , here , here , here,  here , here and here.

 

 

 

In Asbaek’s portrayal of Pilate we encounter a hirsute and ruthless Pilate.  In his ruthlessness, the portrayal of Pilate reflects that of the Jewish historian Josephus who lived in the latter half of the first century.  That portrayal has always been at odds with the more nuanced picture of Pilate contained in the Gospels.  I have never viewed these different portraits of the man as necessarily in conflict.  Depending upon events, a man might act quite differently than one might expect based upon their past.  Pilate had two jobs from the Emperor:  keep the peace and keep taxes flowing.  Pilate was inclined to be merciful to Christ until Caiaphas skillfully convinced Pilate that he would accuse him of falling down on both his jobs if Christ were not crucified.

As to Pilate having a beard, most Roman aristocrats were clean shaven at the time, and had been since the end of the Second Punic War, and a beard was considered a Greek affectation.  It is unlikely that Pilate would have had a beard, especially considering the hot and humid climate of Judaea, but some Romans did have beards, usually as a sign of fashionable youthful rebellion or as a sign of mourning.

Published in: on March 28, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Pilou Asbæk  
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Screen Pilates: Ian Holm

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Brian Mitchell, Leif Erickson, Peter Firth, David Bowie, Lowell Gilmore,  Hurd Hatfield, Vincent Regan, Arthur Kennedy and Gary Oldman may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here , here , here , here , here,  here and here.

 

Bilbo Baggins as Pilate.  Actor Ian Holm voice acted Pilate in the claymation version of the life of Christ in The Miracle Maker (2000).  British actors have a long history of being cast in roles as Roman aristocrats.  However Ian Holm does the role of Pilate without a trace of a British accent.  He portrays Pilate as quite stern but not unsympathetic to Jesus who he finds completely puzzling.  When Caiaphas states that Pilate is no friend of Caesar if he spares Jesus, Pilate gives up in disgust, washes his hands and orders the crucifixion of Jesus.

Published in: on March 27, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Ian Holm  
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Screen Pilates: Gary Oldman

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Brian Mitchell, Leif Erickson, Peter Firth, David Bowie, Lowell Gilmore,  Hurd Hatfield, Vincent Regan and Arthur Kennedy may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here , here , here , here , here and here.

Gary Oldman, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour (2017), assumed the role of Pilate in the 1999 CBS miniseries Jesus.  I cannot find a clip of his performance on the internet, but we do have an interview in which he discusses Pilate and the role of Pilate:

 

Oldman says that in this version the Romans are to blame for the execution of Jesus with  Pilate the consummate politician leading the plot against Jesus.  Certainly almost nothing in Scripture to support this viewpoint, but it certainly is one that has been frequently raised.

Published in: on March 26, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Gary Oldman  
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Screen Pilates: Lowell Gilmore

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Brian Mitchell, Leif Erickson, Peter Firth and David Bowie may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here and here.

Actor Lowell Gilmore had the distinction of portraying Pilate three times:  The Living Christ twelve part series (1951). I Beheld His Glory (1952) and Day of Triumph (1954)

 

(more…)

Published in: on March 24, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Lowell Gilmore  
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Screen Pilates: Vincent Varconi

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks and Cyril Ritchard may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here and here.

One of the earliest screen portrayals of Pilate was by Hungarian actor Vincent Varconi in Cecil B. DeMille’s silent screen epic King of Kings (1927).  We first see Pilate enthroned as the embodiment of Roman power before a huge imperial eagle.  Initially bored by the attempt by Caiaphas to have him execute Jesus, he refuses to look at a document that Caiaphas has prepared laying out the charges against Jesus, after he talks to Jesus he feels the power of the words and presence of Christ, and seeks to satisfy Caiaphas and his mob by having Jesus beaten. (more…)

Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 4:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Vincent Varconi  
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Screen Pilates: Cyril Ritchard

Cyril Richard as Pilate

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell and Greg Hicks may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here and here.

 

Cyril Ritchard had quite a career as an actor.  He was also a devout Catholic, his funeral mass in 1977 being said by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  It is therefore interesting that his portrayal of Pilate in the Studio One television play  Pontius Pilate (1952) is one of the more cynical and overtly political.  He and Caiaphas discuss the fate of Jesus privately as two seasoned pols who might as well be arguing over the division of spoils.  After the execution of Christ he is shaken by the death of Jesus under the influence of his wife, but remains convinced that he has made the right decision.  Procula leaves him and years later he finds her among a group of Christians that he must judge.  He condemns her and the other Christians, but later orders them to be released, he being unable to have the wife he still loves condemned to crucifixion.  The play ends with Pilate unsheathing his sword and telling himself that the sword is the answer to Christ’s query of “What is Truth” with the implication that Pilate will use the sword to commit suicide, having betrayed his belief in Rome out of love for his wife.

Go here to Daily Motion to view the video.

Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Cyril Ritchard  
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Screen Pilates: Greg Hicks

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring and Stephen Russell may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here and here.

Greg Hicks portrays Pilate in the movie Son of God (2014) as concerned above all at protecting his position.  If he does not execute Jesus Caiaphas can tell Tiberius through his agents that Pilate is coddling a rebel against Rome and that would lead to the ending of Pilate’s procuratorship and perhaps his life.  That is more than enough reason for him to deny the request for mercy for Christ from his wife Procula, disturbed by her dream of Christ. (more…)

Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Greg Hicks  
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Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas and Frank Thring may be read here, here, here, here here and here.

Stephen Russell portrays Pilate in The Gospel of John (2003) which is a straight forward no frills presentation of the Gospel of John.  As in the Gospel of John Pilate is shown in the film as first curious about Jesus and then sympathetic to Jesus.  He attempts to save Jesus by giving the mob a choice between Jesus and the bandit Barabbas.  When that fails he presents Jesus after He has been beaten and utters the phrase Ecce Homo, Behold the Man. (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell  
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Screen Pilates: Frank Thring

Frank Thring as Pilate

 

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov and Telly Savalas may be read here, here, here, here and here.

The late Frank Thring, an Australian actor, had the distinction of playing both Pilate and Herod Antipas in major films, Pilate in Ben Hur (1959) and Herod Antipas in King of Kings (1961).

In Ben Hur we get a glimpse of the backstory of Pilate.  Thring portrays Pilate as an urbane Roman aristocrat dismayed that he is being sent to govern bleak and hot Judea.  At a party given by Arrius to anounce his adoption of Ben Hur, go here to view the video,  Pilate indicates his dismay at the prospect.  After Ben Hur wins his famous chariot race, Pilate cynically crowns Ben Hur as the “one true God” for the moment, of the people.  Go here to watch the clip.

In an interview after the race Pilate attempts to convince Ben Hur to remember that he is the son of Arrius and to be content with the vengeance he has inflicted on Messala, dead as a result of injuries sustained in the chariot race:

I crossed this floor in spoken friendship, as I would speak to Arrius. But when I go up those stairs I become the hand of Caesar, ready to crush all those who challenge his authority. There are too many small men of envy and ambition who try to disrupt the government of Rome. You have become the victor and hero to these people. They look to you, their one true god as I called you. If you stay here, you will find yourself part of this tragedy. (more…)

Published in: on March 27, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Frank Thring  
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