So what does God mean to you? Is there an afterlife? If you were born on the other side of the planet would you have a different faith? These are just a few of the questions that filmmakers Francesco Cabras and Alberto Molinari ask the cast and crew from the set of The Passion of The Christ in this engaging documentary
If you watched The Passion of The Christ you might be led to believe that this concept would produce some kind of sermonizing work. But, thankfully, that is not the case. The Big Question is instead a very engaging, artfully made documentary that offers a lot of different ideals and ideas.
Most of the crew are Italian so there are a good number of Catholics but too there are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and non-believers all of whom give answers that are surprising, thoughtful, enigmatic and sometimes entertaining.
The documentary is structured around a dozen or so questions. Each section introduces a question which appears on screen and then we hear the various answers, responses and stories. This may lead some viewers to be turned off right away. After all, films that offer 'average peoples' views about spirituality and faith can sometimes be a bit precious and weak. But the filmmakers avoid this dilemna in many ways. First they use quick editing techniques to keep the answers short and the pace lively. Then they toss in a lot of artful montages and musical visual interludes that showcase the beautiful ruins and landscape of Southern Italy.
The cast and crew are interviewed on the set and all are in costume. No one has an introductory tag. However, the cast and [one] crew can be recognized and include Mel Gibson [director], Monicca Bellucci [Magdalen], Maia Morgenstern [Mary], Luca De Dominicis [Herod], Rosalinda Celentano [Satan] and one very brief appearance by Jim Caviezel [Christ] who answers a question completely drenched in fake blood. Other than these big names the others are crew members, locals and ministers, priests and the like. Their is also a half wolf half dog named Greg that wanders and runs round the ruins during the interludes.
If there is any weakness to the film it is that the focus is decidely more Christian than any other world religion - although, again, there is no sermonizing. And the interludes between questions go on a little too long. Also the dog - beautiful though he is - becomes a distraction amid the beautiful ruins - which would look just fine by themselves. Nonetheless, I've seen the documentary twice and I look forward to sharing it with others.