TEHRAN: A director who shares the ideas of Iran’s hardline president has produced what he says is the first film giving an Islamic view of Jesus Christ, in a bid to show the “common ground” between Muslims and Christians.
Nader Talebzadeh sees his movie, Jesus, the Spirit of God , as an Islamic answer to Western productions like Mel Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster The Passion of the Christ , which he praised as admirable but quite simply “wrong”.
“Gibson’s film is a very good film. I mean that it is a well-crafted movie but the story is wrong – it was not like that,” he said, referring to two key differences: Islam sees Jesus as a prophet, not the son of God, and does not believe he was crucified.
Talebzadeh said he even went to Gibson’s mansion in Malibu, California, to show him his film. “But, it was Sunday and the security at the gate received the film and the brochure and promised to deliver it,” though the Iranian never heard back.
Even in Iran, Jesus, The Spirit of God had a low-key reception, playing to moderate audiences in five Tehran cinemas during the holy month of Ramadan, in October.
The film, funded by state broadcasting, faded off the billboards but is far from dead, about to be recycled in a major 20 episode spin-off to be broadcast over state-run national television this year.
Talebzadeh insists it aims to bridge differences between Christianity and Islam, despite the stark divergence from Christian doctrine about Christ’s final hours on earth.
“It is fascinating for Christians to know that Islam gives such devotion to and has so much knowledge about Jesus,” Talebzadeh said.
“By making this film I wanted to make a bridge between Christianity and Islam, to open the door for dialogue since there is much common ground between Islam and Christianity,” he said.