Jesus, they’re actually doing this, aren’t they?
Sorry, that was slightly uncalled for. But how else is one to process the news that the people behind The Passion of The Christ, a movie in which Jesus Christ turned out to be passionate about exactly what you’d expect and not, say, baking, are going to tell the whole story in VR? Minus the directorial contribution of occasional anti-Semite Mel Gibson, naturally.
That is actually the plan, and the movie is supposed to come out in time for Christmas 2016, Variety reports. Produced by VRWERX, the film will be called Jesus VR — The Story of Christ, which hints at the possibility that Christ’s middle initials were VR. Alas, this is a narrative opportunity the filmmakers appear to be ignoring.
If it’s the most powerful story of all time, why is VR needed?
The film will be 90 minutes long, which sounds like an eternity to spend trapped in a Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, or HTC Vive headset, all of which will apparently be supported by the release.
Look, these jokes are too easy. This is the second silly VR Jesus project I’ve written up in the last two weeks. Maybe it’ll be good. I wouldn’t bet on it, but stranger things have happened (like, say, resurrection). It’s also fair to note that whenever a new medium comes along, the same stories get rehashed. The story of Jesus Christ has been told in every medium and it’s basically a rite of passage for a piece of technology at this point, even if it’s not clear what that medium really adds. (In the interest of fairness, it’s also worth noting that there’s no clear point of many other VR things; the hope is simply that some good will come out of it all.)
But then there’s this statement from producer David Hansen: “This is the most powerful story of all time and virtual reality is the perfect way to tell it.”
If it’s the most powerful story of all time, why is VR needed? What does it add? Clearly plenty of people have been getting by without it. The problem with biblical VR projects, above all other silly VR projects, is that they require filmmakers to reckon with the powers of a text and a medium at the same time. That’s a lot of power, and it can quickly go to your head. Or somewhere else.