Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film

Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film is a purpose driven film carrying a message of hope and love to a far too underserved community.
71/100101907
Starring
Gideon Firl, Hawal Abdullah, Az Alvarez
Director
Joseph Josselyn
Rating
Not Rated
Genre
Biography, Drama, Religious
Release date
June 19, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Story/Plot
Visuals/Cinematography
Performance
Direction
Non-Wokeness
Rating Summary
Proverbs 20:12 says, "The Lord has given us eyes to see and ears to listen." As a first of its kind and as a film with a monumentally important goal, Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film is more than worthy of support. Fortunately, it also brings enough to the table that faithful moviegoers won't be made to feel as though they are just putting in their time.
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The cinematic retelling of Jesus’s story has a profound power to touch both believers and non-believers alike. Films like Cecil B. DeMille’s “The King of Kings” (1927) offered grand, sweeping visuals that brought the biblical narrative to life, creating an emotional connection that transcends religious boundaries. Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” (1977) meticulously portrays Jesus’s life with depth and nuance, inviting viewers from all walks of life to engage with his teachings, humanity, and divinity. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) presents a visceral, intense depiction of Jesus’s suffering, compelling audiences to confront the raw emotions of his sacrifice. These films, with their powerful storytelling and visual impact, have the ability to evoke deep reflection, empathy, and inspiration, resonating universally regardless of faith. Unlike these, however, A Deaf Missions Film aims to connect with a specific demographic: the 96% to 98% of deaf Americans who are also non-believers.

Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film

The greatest story ever told has returned to the silver screen, but this time with a unique distinction. A Deaf Missions Film presents Jesus’s Ministry and Passion entirely in American Sign Language (ASL), making it the only religious film—and the only film of any kind—to do so. Created by deaf people for deaf people, it is truly a film of a mission with a mission.

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Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film Review

Making a quality movie with quality people on both sides of the camera is already a daunting enough task. One need only look at the sad state of American cinema to see how shallow the talent pool has become. Combine that with finding an entire cast that is fluent in American Sign Language, and you would need a miracle to demonstrate even base-level competence. Fortunately, this film surpasses that lowly metric, and Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film exceeds expectations.

Bolstered by chronicling the most important event in human history since the creation of the universe, the cast and crew’s obvious love for the source material, and their clear devotion to the cause of bringing the Word to the hearing impaired, Jesus brings its own special beauty to Christ’s story, despite any weaknesses that it might have.

The performances range from a handful of not-so-greats to a majority of not-too-bads, with Ryan Schlecht playing Caiaphas arguably giving the film’s best performance. Schlecht’s focus is fairly strong throughout, and the role of Caiaphas naturally lends itself to film-friendly theatrics. Playing Jesus, Gideon Firl infuses our savior with a refreshing sweetness not generally portrayed in other big-screen adaptations of our Savior, the one exception perhaps being the chair scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.

Jesus’ production value outstrips what was no doubt a very modest budget. Costumes seem appropriate, if maybe a little too new-looking, and locations and sets are perfectly adequate.  The filmmakers took advantage of some computer-enhanced establishing shots that do a fine job conveying the land’s scope and its important locales, even if their artificial nature is apparent.

Unlike The Greatest Story Ever Told or King of Kings, which tells of Jesus’ life from beginning to end to beginning, or The Passion, which focuses on Jesus’ final days on Earth, Jesus: A Deaf Missions Film focuses mainly on Jesus’ ministry, playing all of the hits from healing the sick to raising the dead. It’s an understandable choice given the filmmakers’ goal of spreading the Word to a niche market that hasn’t been exposed to it. Still, it lacks an emotional throughline that a more focused story would have conveyed and subsequently feels like a series of short plays rather than one long narrative. That said, those well-versed in the source material will appreciate the various tales, and each one is so significant to the rest of history, Western civilization, and our own personal stories that I have no doubt many and more deaf viewers will be moved to partner with Christ while hearing believers like myself will find themselves moved by the love and sacrifice made on our unworthy behalfs.

 

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James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.

10 comments

  • Ktuff_morning

    July 1, 2024 at 9:20 am

    “believers like myself”

    Interesting passage from John Dean’s book Authoritarian Nightmare:

    “Let us say you have sinned against your neighbor. Maybe you stole something, or started a malicious rumor, or bedded a coveted wife. Now this bothers you. You have a guilty conscience. What do you do? You ask God for forgiveness. You do not discuss what you did with those who have suffered and make it up to them, or confide in someone close about what you did. This doesn’t make you feel better. You still feel crummy about what you did, maybe because you have firsthand seen the damage you have done or you know the knowledge of your misdeed has now spread. Instead of accounting for your actions you have applied Divine White-Out which is far less messy than admitting to the wounded person you have done the wounding.

    Authoritarians take instant guilt-be-gone, and as a result do not have to stifle a nagging conscience still reminding them on Saturday night what happened last Saturday night. Their religion has taken the guilt out of guilt. As a result, when the impulse next arises to stick it to someone, they have no trouble sugar-coating the tip of their spear with self-righteousness and firing away. And if later they feel guilty about letting their prejudices and hatred get the better of them no problem. They just wipe the slate clean with a prayer of forgiveness and get back to feeling good about themselves, thus reloading for future aggression. Easy forgiveness makes sin more likely to recur. Given that guilt-evaporating belief that God will forgive everything you confess, why wouldn’t you sin when temptation arose, with such easy off-ramps/on-ramps as you travel through life? You can have your cake and go to heaven too.”

    You. Are. No. Believer. The only thing you really “believe” is that you don’t have to face any personal responsibility.

    There’s a word for what you and your kind are. Evil.

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    Reply

    • Sweet Deals

      July 2, 2024 at 1:11 pm

      I have an opinion but I fear it would be unwise to share it.

      I’ll just leave with the suggestion that perhaps it is equally unwise to accuse others blindly of wrongdoings without evidence, especially if it makes the accuser feel good about himself.

      Reply

      • Ktuff_morning

        July 4, 2024 at 10:49 am

        But you want to share it and you want me to know. The hatred just burns you up inside. You owe both me and Jesus an apology for your wickedness.

        Reply

    • Marty

      July 7, 2024 at 10:39 am

      What the hell is this? Whoever you think you are, hurling insults and calling people evil, you need to take a look at yourself. Read this weird post you wrote to yourself while looking in the mirror.

      Reply

  • F*&k Atheism

    July 5, 2024 at 4:20 pm

    The teachings of Jesus are something that the woke left and atheists should actually follow. Instead they follow the toxic values promoted by wokeness and atheism which have given nothing to the world apart from conflict, hate and intolerance.

    Leftism taken to its extreme has always led to authoritianism and organised atheism has only led to similar dictatorships.

    Reply

    • Ktuff_morning

      July 6, 2024 at 1:36 pm

      Extreme, irrational hatred from the diseased mind of a radical Christian. See Carrick? This is exactly what I’m talking about. He says the quiet part out loud. Imagine him red-faced sputtering out that bile in church. Right in front of Jesus.

      Here’s something to consider. Does all of Christianity boil down to cognitive distortion? Generalization. Labeling. Personalization. Black-or-white. All-or-nothing. Mind reading. Should/shouldn’t. Exaggeration/minimization.

      Your website certainly encourages cognitive distortion doesn’t it? Do the ends justify the lies? The only problem is you know full well you’re going to pray for forgiveness BEFORE you lie. That doesn’t count. You don’t get forgiveness for that.

      I was right about you. I’ve got you recognized, categorized and alphabetized.

      Reply

      • Tboi

        July 8, 2024 at 8:26 am

        What on earth are you rambling about?

        Reply

        • Bunny With A Keyboard

          July 9, 2024 at 12:50 pm

          Personally, I appreciate that the woke are so happy to post their nonsense on these websites in order to prove to everyone that the woke are exactly what we say they are.

          Twenty years ago, it was a lot harder. People would say how they’re coming for children and the woke would just claim it was bigoted. Now we have plenty of evidence.

          Reply

          • Ktuff_morning

            July 11, 2024 at 4:50 pm

            If you know you’re going to ask for forgiveness BEFORE you sin, the forgiveness doesn’t count. Just remember that.

  • Tboi

    July 16, 2024 at 1:27 pm

    Who is making the opposite claim?

    Reply

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