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Russel Matthew A.


The movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ” has been one of those movies I have waited to see in
the theaters last Lent. Apparently, it was shown only here in the country for a short period of
time and was pulled out for reasons unknown to me. Watching it for this assignment has been a
privilege because after having viewed it, I can say that it is one of the best movies I have seen
depicting one of the most prominent and controversial figures of the early Church – the Apostle
Saint Paul.

Looking at the way the content of the frames have been shown, it simply shows its
attempt to faithfully depict the life and times of Saul turned to Paul. The set design – particularly
the house of Priscilla and Aquila and the Mamertine prison – seems to evoke to me the contrast
between the glory that once was Rome and the sad and petty condition of the early Christians on
the onset of Nero’s persecution. The depiction of the characters who have been intended to
portray those living at that time are actually in harmony with the set design.

As to the dialogues spoken, the movie is told through the lens of both Saint Paul and
Saint Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles. It has been established in the dialogue that the
motive and purpose for writing the sequel to his Gospel is that Luke needs to record the activities
of the Apostles so as to hand on to the future members of the Christian communities the story of
how God has worked through Christ’s disciples for their spiritual nourishment and benefit.
Although it has been apparent that the dialogues presented have been directed by the characters
to each other, such as the dialogues between Saint Paul and Saint Luke in prison as well as those
by Priscilla and Aquila to those Christians in their keeping, there seems to be an inkling toward a
more overt message for the audience. Much like how Saint Luke intended the Acts of the
Apostles for the future, the dialogues also speak volumes to the modern audience who is
watching the movie. As such, the dialogues go beyond what is said – it actually transcends time
and intended audience because it calls to mind that God’s Word is living, effective, and timeless.

The most significant scene for me was when Saint Luke visited Saint Paul in prison and
asked him for wisdom about whether or not the Christians should take up arms in order to defend
and protect themselves. Because Saint Luke seems to have been insistent on the side of arming
the Christians, Saint Paul rebukes him with his famous 1 Corinthians 13 homily on love. This
scene spoke to me because it is a juxtaposition of the scene of his conversion on the road to

If one remembers, it was Saint Paul who was struck down on the road and looking toward
the light from heaven from whence a voice came and said: “Why do you persecute me?”
Conversely, in the scene aforementioned, Saint Luke, because of his insistence, was the one
struck down – apparently dumbfounded – at Saint Paul’s sudden insistence to do the opposite.
Saint Luke was the one cowering in the dark while Saint Paul was illuminated and bathed in the
light coming from the window of his prison cell and it heightened the effect of his praise of
Christian love: “Love is patient, love is kind; it is not jealous nor boastful. It is long-suffering, it
does not rejoice in wrong but delights in the right…” The harmony of lighting, dialogue,
positioning of characters, as well as camera angling have all contributed to the heightened effect
of this particular scene.

The lighting of the scenes usually come from above and comes from both natural and
artificial lights. I love the fact that the light is above because it not only resembles the sun, but
the Sun of Justice, the Lord Jesus, who sheds light on the early Christian community in Rome, as
well on Paul who has been persecuted for the faith.

The change of scenes from one to the next either uses cuts, fades, wipes, and sudden
transitions. The use of smooth transitions evoke a sense of peacefulness and quiet (if not
resembling the fear of hiding for the early Christians) while the sudden cuts and change scenes
are in consonance with sudden action and alertness of the events which transpire on screen.

The images presented are all colored and have been clearly defined. This suggests that
each of the characters have definite personalities and have developed characteristics of their own
as the storyline progresses. Even the graphics – such as the opening words presented and those
shown before the credits are reeled in – have been font styled in such a manner that it matches in
the spirit of ancient Rome.

The execution scene of Saint Paul also had dramatic effects on me because of the way
that the camera was angled. At the moment when Saint Paul’s head was cut off, the camera
panned up, symbolizing his soul’s entry into heaven where he met those whom He had
persecuted and where He saw Jesus. The face of Jesus was not clearly defined because I believe
the intention was that nobody could actually say for certain how Jesus would look like – all that
matters is how Saint Paul would see Him in heaven.