What did Jesus look like? There are no known portraits made of him when he was alive and not even any descriptions of how he looked. Of course, the Gospel writers were primarily concerned with how Jesus lived inside them making ripples in the world in his name.
Over the centuries, painters, sculptors, and artisans from all over the globe have imagined the face of Jesus. His countenance has been conveyed in illuminated Bibles, paintings, sculptures, icons, mosaics, murals, stained glass windows, and pieces of cloth. All this despite the campaigns of the iconoclasts who argue that images of the Holy One detract from the mystery of divinity.
This dramatic, informative, and well-orchestrated two-hour documentary was directed by Craig MacGowan and written by Dr. James Clifton. It is narrated by Mel Gibson, Bill Moyers, Edward Herrmann, Patricia Neal, Stacy Keach, and others. Divided into five segments "The Gospel According to Giotto," "The Search for the Authentic Christ," "The Suffering Christ," "The Worldwide Spread of the Image," "The Modern Era," and "Lord of Light" the program moves from the early third century through the contemporary era.
The superb musical score greatly enhances the varied images of Jesus on the screen from artists all over the world including Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Durer, Bosch, Chagall, Raphael, Ensor, and Warhol. From the catacombs to Rome to desert monasteries to the Chartres Cathedral, the face of Jesus is at once simple, awesome, fierce, beautiful, grotesque, beatific, and a host of other impressions.
The variety of images shows the struggles artists have had in portraying the one who is viewed within Christianity as both human and divine. As you watch this extraordinary documentary, keep in mind the words of Frederick Buechner who once wrote about the face of Jesus: "Like the faces of the people we love, it has become so familiar that unless we take pains we hardly see it at all. Take pains. See it for what it is and, to see it whole, see it too for what it is just possible that it will become: the face of Jesus as the face of our own secret and innermost destiny, the face of Jesus as our face."