FOR FILMS IN CHARGE OF CHANGE
NAZARENE (FOLLOWER OF CHRIST)
directed by Cristian Murphy
Written, directed and performed entirely by Cristian Murphy, Nazarene (follower of Christ) is a religious film with a strong statement against terrorism. Though the short lacks proper cinematography, editing and sound design, the director’s complete immersion and dedication to the subject are admirable.
The film depicts a Christian man that’s held against his will by a terrorist group (namely ISIS). He can either renounce his religion or get killed by the terrorists. In the meantime, the man finds serenity and bliss in God, who he prays and talks to. In the end, his faith proves stronger than the terror thrust upon him.
Originally, Cristian Murphy has been inspired to make this short by the ongoing persecutions of Christians by terrorist groups. He specifically evokes ISIS and the murder of priest Jacques Hamel in the 2016 Normandy church attack. The beginning statement claims that “hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern Christians have been enslaved and killed at the hands of this group [ISIS]”. As much as it was thought as a statement against religious persecutions, Nazarene (follower of Christ) also constitutes an argument for the right to religious freedom.
The film’s topic can be a powerful starting point for debates on faith, hope and serenity. However, though it reflects a widely-known reality, the focus on Christian persecution by Islamic groups could be interpreted as religious propaganda as well. The film’s perspective reflects the director’s strong bias, he himself being a devout Christian. Had it been focused on religious feelings, instead of two specific religions, the outcome would have been different and less biased.
In terms of cinematography and editing, Nazarene could have used improvement. The transition between black and white and colour picture amateurishly reflects the shift from the objective reality to the divine outcome of prayer. Moreover, the depiction of a blissful, serene church atmosphere is unprofessionally realised with the help of blurred, low saturation and contrast picture.
However, with a team made of only three people, the film is surprisingly coherent. The director-writer-performer managed to get his message across and spark debates on an ongoing issue. His statement for supporting religious freedom and cessation of religious persecutions is commendable and powerful. Still, the director’s background and bias can only harm his artistic work that tends to resemble religious propaganda.