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.

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Published in: on March 28, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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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  Leave a Comment  
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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  Leave a Comment  
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Screen Pilates: Arthur Kennedy

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 and Vincent Regan, may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here , here , here , here and here.

The film Barabbas (1961) starring Anthony Quinn, focuses on the murderer, (Zealot?) Barabbas who was freed by Pilate instead of Christ.  As I was sure was the case with the historical Barabbas, he commits new offenses and finds himself again before Pilate portrayed by Arthur Kennedy.  Largely forgotten today, Kennedy who passed away in 1990 was a notable actor of the forties, fifties and sixties, and was considered one of the best supporting actors of his day.  He plays Pilate as something of an intellectual as he engages Barabbas in an impromptu debate as to whether states are merely bandits like Barabbas writ large.  This debate echoes this passage in book IV of the City of God by Saint Augustine:

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.” (more…)

Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Arthur Kennedy  
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Screen Pilates: Vincent Regan

 

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 and Hurd Hatfiled may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here , here , here and here.

A miniseries portrayal of Pilate by actor Vincent Regan, an Irish Catholic turned agnostic but who is a self-proclaimed “big fan” of both the Pope and Christ, in A.D. The Bible Continues, broadcast in 2016.   By the very nature of a miniseries Regan is given an opportunity for a fuller portrayal of Pilate by virtue of far more time on screen than the few minutes most actors portraying Pilate are allotted in a feature film.  I wish better use had been made of the time. (more…)

Published in: on April 11, 2017 at 4:36 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Vincent Regan  
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Screen Pilates: Hurd Hatfield

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 and Lowell Gilmore may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here , here and here.

Of all the big budget Biblical epics of Hollywood, King of Kings (1961) gets the least respect and perhaps deservedly so.  The film is notable for being the first big budget Hollywood movie to depict Christ directly, with Jeffrey Hunter in the title role.  Although Hunter was the correct age, 33, he looked far younger and the film has sometimes been nicknamed “I Was A Teenage Christ”.

Veteran actor Hurd Hatfield portrayed Pilate.  It is an interesting portrayal with Pilate cool, haughty and officially correct in his examination of Christ and highly emotional behind the scenes.  Josephus depicts Pilate as being irascible and possessed of a violent temper and Hatfield gives us that dimension of Pilate. (more…)

Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Hurd Hatfield  
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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)

 

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

 

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 and Peter Firth may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here and here.

 

Perhaps the oddest portrayal of Pilate is by David Bowie, who passed away recently, in the enormously controversial film, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), which was based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis.  I have a hard time being offended by either the novel or the film because Kazantzakis’ take on Christ is so bizarre, and so contrary to the historical record, that it occurred to me that the novel was not really about Christ, but a totally fictional construct by Kazantzakis in which only the name of Jesus remains the same.  The scene at the top of the post where “Pilate” interrogates “Christ” (Willem Dafoe),  is typical:  the dialogue is completely made up and is conducted listlessly by both “Pilate” and “Christ”, rather as if they were participants in a college bull session that had gone on too late into the wee hours of the morning.  One expects one of them to say, “We better turn in, or we will never get up for class.” (more…)

Published in: on March 23, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Screen Pilates: Peter Firth

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 and Leif Erickson may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here and here.

Veteran actor Peter Firth portrays Pilate as a worried man in the currently released movie Risen (2016), afraid that if the body of Christ cannot be found unrest from His followers will occur on the eve of a visit to Judaea by the Emperor Tiberius.  The visit of Emperor Tiberius is a fictional device to heighten the drama I assume.  At the time of the execution of Christ, Tiberius was in decadent retirement on the island of Capri.  The historical Pilate had good reason to fear the wrath of Tiberius, as he was a protégé of Roman strongman Sejanus, who Tiberius had executed on October 18, 31 AD, the year, likely, before Christ was put to death.  The Jewish philosopher Philo, an older contemporary of Christ born in 25 BC and who would live to 50AD, noted that Sejanus had helped foster anti-Semitic policies throughout the Empire, and that Tiberius had repudiated these policies upon the fall of Sejanus, and commanded that good relations with the Jewish communities throughout the Roman Empire be the policy of the Roman government.  This of course would have put Pilate on the spot, since he had a generally bad relationship with the Jews.  Much that is obscure about Pilate’s attitude toward Christ is made clear if Philo is accurate in his statement.  Why the screenwriters of Risen did not use these facts, rather than inventing a fictional visit of Tiberius, is beyond me. (more…)

Published in: on March 22, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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Screen Pilates: Leif Erickson

 

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 and Brian Mitchell may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here , here and here.

Hill Number One (1951) was a well-done film of Family Theater Productions, a company founded by the late Father Francis Peyton, the famed Rosary Priest, who led Rosary Crusades around the globe.  Family Theater Productions produced some 700 films and television programs.  Hill Number One has a chaplain telling some GIs during the Korean War, when battles for hills were common, how Jesus took Hill Number One, Calvary, by Himself.  Leif Erickson, who later starred in the Western television series The High Chaparral (1967-71), portrays Pilate as a harsh soldier/administrator, completely baffled by the mystery of Christ.  A forgotten minor classic, this video makes excellent Holy Week viewing.  Watch for an early screen appearance by James Dean as the Apostle John.

Published in: on March 21, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Leif Erickson  
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