Jesus, Mary And DaVinci is another one of those DVDs that followed in the wake of both the book The DaVinci Code and Mel Gibson's blockbuster hit The Passion of The Christ. The presentation proves to be an interesting discussion for those who have never studied the topic before, but as someone who has a background in both the Church and religious lore, I found most of what was on this DVD to be old news.
Which brings me to a slight digression in my review concerning Dan Brown's book, The DaVinci Code - which for some strange reason became a runaway hit even though the ideas in it have been around for generations. In fact, a much more interesting story was presented a few years back on this topic in Jane Jensen's third Gabriel Knight PC game entitled Blood Of The Sacred, Blood Of The Damned - which Brown almost seems to rip-off in his novel. The Gabriel Knight game all but bombed amongst PC enthusiasts, while Brown's book became an international seller. Go figure. [Incidentally, Brown gets all the credit for his "brilliant" novel in this special – and he appears in interview clips several times. Yep, you guessed it – Jensen's work and research on the topic isn't even mentioned.]
Back on topic, Jesus, Mary And DaVinci - less anyone be confused – focuses on Jesus' relationship with Mary Magdalene, and not his mother, Mary. But don't worry – the mother of Jesus also gets her "props" with an examination of her life in a short featurette that is also on the DVD.
The biggest topic that Jesus, Mary And DaVinci tackles is the question of whether Jesus and Mary were married, or if they were just really, really good friends (sorry, I couldn't help myself!). The fact that the question poses such great debate amongst scholars does seem rather silly...as if those who believe Jesus is divine would suddenly doubt his divinity if it was revealed that he had sexual relations with a woman within a marriage. The debate that this presentation delves into, for me, said more about the Church's historical attitude towards sex (inside or outside of marriage) than it did about what kind of relationship Jesus may or may not have had with Mary Magdalene.
After about 45-minutes worth of debate with scholars and priests alike, host Elizabeth Vargas pretty much admits that we really don't know the answers and will most likely never know. End of show, thanks for tuning in! And my parents wonder why I don't bother with church anymore...
I've seen a few other ABC News DVDs (which are taken from prime time specials that air on TV), and was shocked that the video quality of this one seemed noticeably poorer than previous releases I have viewed. The picture is really grainy and has an overall lack of sharpness that makes it look not a whole lot better that a good VHS release. The presentation, in case you were wondering, is presented in the full-frame format.
The audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby, and is more than adequate for the type of presentation here – which is primarily made up of interview material.
Other than a chapter selection option, the only extra here is "Search For Mary," a brief look at Jesus' mother and her place in history. One note: the back of the box lists the running time for the DVD at 55 minutes – but potential viewers should know that's the running time of both the main presentation and the featurette combined. The actual running time of the main program is about 45-mintues.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Even if you're a "Jesus Freak," (I'm going to hell for that one, aren't I?!) you'll probably only want to rent this one. It's enjoyable enough and presented in an entertaining way – but there's not much in the way of new ground covered here, especially if you're devoutly religious and/or a fan of The DaVinci Code or similar books.