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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » NBC News Presents: The Last Days of Jesus
NBC News Presents: The Last Days of Jesus
Universal // Unrated // August 31, 2004
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted September 2, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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THE PROGRAM

Just as this news program was created to air on NBC during the theatrical run of The Passion of The Christ, the release of The Last Days of Jesus on DVD is designed to capitalize on the DVD release of Mel Gibson's controversial film.

Fortunately, there's nothing exploitative about the program itself – which takes a closer look at the historical Jesus, using the four Gospels as a guideline but also bringing in current scholars to tell us what recorded history has to say about the time surrounding Jesus' death.

The result is a decent, but not outstanding, program that helps give a clearer picture of who Jesus was. The program, which is hosted by NBC's Stone Phillips, isn't afraid to question Jesus' divinity but ultimately can provide no clear answers (mainly because no clear answers exist) as to whether Jesus was indeed the Son of God, or just a charismatic leader.

A good quarter of the program (which only runs 44-minutes…the 77-minute running time listed on the box cover includes the bonus materials) is wasted, in my opinion, by focusing on the question of who is to blame for the death of Jesus. I think most educated people realize that an entire race or religious group cannot be deemed responsible for the death of a man – especially when the man who died was of the same race and religion. Furthermore, Christians who actually believe in the divinity of Jesus should already know who is responsible for the death of Jesus – since the entire purpose of Jesus coming to Earth was to sacrifice himself. In other words, if you claim to be a Christian, you know the responsibility for Jesus' death lies solely with Jesus. If he had not died, his ministry would have served no purpose.

Ultimately, as well produced as The Last Days of Jesus is, it offers little new information for either the historian or the Christian. This is more of an introduction to the man for those who may have seen Gibson's film and want to find out more about Jesus' life and crucifixion. It makes for a nice companion piece to Mel's movie, but it only skims the surface of the real story of one of history's most fascinating people.

THE DVD

Video:
The video is presented in the full-frame format and the quality of the picture is very good, if just a tad on the "soft" side. It's about what you'd expect for the transfer of a recent TV news program onto disc.

Audio:
The audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby and is nice and clear, with no evident dropouts or glitches. The program is all voice-over and interview material, so the 2.0 track is more than adequate for this type of release.

Extras:
In addition to the main presentation, there are four additional short featurettes, each covering a different aspect of the impact of Jesus and Christianity:

Jesus The Healer - Addresses the question of whether Jesus really performed the miracles he is given credit for in the Gospels, or if they were inserted by the writers to enhance Jesus' story.

Living Faith - The most moving featurette, this segment examines a few lives that have been touched by faith in God, including one man who not only forgave but became close friends with the teenager who killed his wife and daughter in a car accident.

God and the Brain - Examines how scientists are able to recreate a spiritual experience in the laboratory. Is this proof that man created God? This segment certainly does raise some interesting questions.

Servant Leadership - Shows how some CEOs are using Jesus' example to run their companies. A novel idea, but I think I still prefer Gordan Gekko.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There's not a lot of replay value here, and devout Christians aren't really going to find out much that they haven't already learned (assuming they've been going to Sunday School, of course!) – but if you enjoyed The Passion of the Christ and are interested in finding out a little more about the man named Jesus, The Last Days of Jesus is a good starting point…although it may leave you with more questions than answers.
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