Pressestimmen - englisch | reviews and articles - english

monografische Artikel | monographic reviews

What is in the many images that people set up for themselves? Surely, ever occuring questions. Curiosity for the historical material, which seems to be inexhaustible? And wantomness? Yes sure, that too at times.
(RIAS Kirchenfunk, broadcasted 11.07.86, translated for »Veronika (vera ikon)«)

»Jesus: Der Film« is silly, sublime - The greatest story ever told has inspired filmmakers from Pier Paolo Pasolini to Monty Python. Celluloid versions of the New Testament have ranged from bombastic epic to austere meditation to scurrilous parody. Now from Germany comes a film that combines every previous approach to Christ in the movies into one rickety, black-and-white, Super8 extravaganza.
This semisacrilegeous satire might strain the patience of the more orthodox. But despite its flippancy, 'Der Film' is genuinely, if erractically, reverent. In the crucial scenes of Christ's condemnation, passion, death and resurrection, the ineffable pathos and grandeur of the subject shines through the film's marginal means. Perhaps because the filmmakers' sources are so limited they are able to capture these moments' sublimity. Deprived of props, effects, color and even synchronous sound, the makers of 'Der Film' are reduced to the fundamental materials of cinema: the human face, form and imagination. [...]
Given the circumstances of its production, 'Der Film' is understandably flawed. It is at times sophomoric, pretentious and just plain silly. It also is occasionally incomprehensible, a problem aggravated by a lack of subtitles. But it's cumulative effect is not unlike that of a religious experience. It may be condemned as iconoclastic, offensive and heretical, but then so was Jesus himself by the Pharisees of old.
(Chicago Sun-Times, May 22, 1987 - Peter Keough)

monografischer Artikel | monographic review

There is something incredibly anachronistic and at the same time incredibly vital and exciting about »Jesus - The Film«, a super8-epic, that involved 22 German experimental filmmakers and 122 actors to portray the birth, public life and death of Jesus Christ in 35 episodes. The use of super8, the intimate gauge of home movies, would seem to be at odds with the grand scale implied by an epic concept, but Brynntrup and his collaborators have used the limitations and the advantages of the medium to fashion a personal film that has an emotional power and symbolic scope that has eluded many a Hollywood life of Christ.
(Program note Film Center of the Art Institute Chicago, 23.05.87 - Barbara Scharres)

"The idea of a film is more important to me than its technical perfection." says Michael Brynntrup of his Super8 movies. [...] Brynntrup insists on creating a special atmosphere at every screening and regularly tours with his movie-happenings. During screenings on the 35-city tour for »The Jesus Film«, a nun sang, the actress who played Mary danced like a go-go girl and Brynntrup distributed Eucharists to the audience.
(Andy Warhol's INTERVIEW, September 1987 - Eva Seidel)

The result is a refreshing violation of Biblical restrictions on imagery. Moments of irreverent cynicism float easily into more ironical interpretations. Other sequences approach kitsch without neglecting emotiveness.
(Program note Hallwalls, Buffalo - 16.12.88)

The project's own history follows the story of Jesus Christ recruiting his apostles. The film's creator Michael Brynntrup is a central and controversial figure of Berlin's vivid independent community. His transgressive obsessions, as well as his capability to smuggle miles of Russian Super8 film-material through East-West customs, gathered a group of believers around him.
Individuals and groups from various art factions filled the holy frame, inspired by the Dadaistic idea of an 'ecriture automatique'. From one to another, they passed ideas, material and actors, including Michael Brynntrup himself as the title character.
The Biblical texture serves the film as a scheme enabling the film makers to divide meaning from its historic symbol and to substitute it with contemporary signs.
(ARTS in Buffalo, vol 1 N°24, 15.12.88 - Andreas Wildfang)

monografischer Artikel | monographic review

Michael B's portrayal of Christ is painfully humane, while the film itself is sincere beyond its moments of religious slapstick. Scenes such as the immaculate conception with a fullgrown Christ (as foetus) superimposed on the Madonna's pregnant belly - give some idea of Brynntrup's vocational playfulness; not diffusing the New Testament according to tradition but working it into ecstatic adventure.
(Shock Xpress Vol N°2 issue 5, winter 88/89 - David Kerekes)

Michael Brynntrup has tried to stem the criticism of blasphemy against his »JESUS - DER FILM« by offering to play it to a church congregation. In spite of this, the Catholic church still don't like it. "Which is a pity", a voice sympathetic with Brynntrup was heard to say, "because the Catholic church obviously don't know what they're doing." [...] Most every contributed episode in »JESUS« is a provoking re-work of the original biblical text - whether it be R. Paris & A. Hentschel's re-telling of 'The Healing of the Blind', Stiletto's 'Loaves and Fishes', or Jörg Buttgereit's 'Crucifixion' sequence - but it is when Brynntrup himself takes the camera that the film has a true inspirational passion. 'The Last Supper', for instance, sees Christ drinking wine and pouring it back from His mouth into the glass - blood into wine into blood into wine - over and over again on a tape loop.
(Headpress Manchester Nr.3/91}

His »JESUSFILM« (1985/86) {...and others...} play with the visual aesthetics of painting from the Renaissance to 19th century eclecticism. [...] With irony and a refreshing lack of earnestness Brynntrup undermines both additive structures and paraphrases on patterns in art history. If this corrective were missing, his interest in the ego would undoubtedly turn into pure selfcontemplation.
(Christoph Tannert, translated by Constance Hanna, printed in: Lebende Bilder - still lives, catalogue MoMA, New York - Berlin, April 1992)

Whoever has heard of Brynntrup's themes: death, the death strip, the death of Christ, death's head, death dance; assumes depression, melancholy, tristesse. These words however, hardly apply to the spirit of most of his films. Brynntrup has a marked sense for bizarre humour. It is, nonetheless, through this humour that his message becomes serious. For example »JESUS - THE FILM« (1985/86), a project conducted by Brynntrup, turned out to be a deeply religious piece of work. Even if at first glance we thought we were looking at blasphemy. (In the Annunciation Episode Brynntrup projects the Jesus fetus-cross and crown of barbed wire included-into the belly of the very pregnant Mary character.)
(Michael Höfner, translated by Constance Hanna, printed in: Lebende Bilder - still lives, catalogue MoMA, New York - Berlin, April 1992)

As typical for Brynntrup, the film reflects back on its own medium, depicting miracles as trick photography: the bread, taken from the body of Christ, shows Brynntrup eating in reverse motion, and bread popping out of a toaster is played back repeatedly in the reenactment of the miracle at Cana. From a Catholic family, Brynntrup frequently borrows from Christian iconography. In fact, the trailer to »Jesus - Der Film« is entitled »Veronika (vera ikon)« (1987), punning on the veiled, screen reproduction of Christ's image.
(Alice Kuzniar, "The Queer German Cinema", Stanford University Press, July 2000)

Brynntrup playfully copies, too, the life of Christ. As its title alone suggests, »Jesus - Der Film« / Jesus - The Film (1985-86) is a blasphemous, at times hilarious, at times banal film. Lasting 125 minutes and billed as "monumental," this omnibus Super8 production was organized by Brynntrup, who from section to section stars in the lead role, and contains contributions by, among others, Anarchistische Gummizelle, the German slasher director Jörg Buttgereit [...], and filmmakers and photographers from East Berlin.
{Alice A. Kuzniar, Virtual Selves and Prosthetic Genders, talk given at Cornell University, Ithaka NY, October 2000}

Michael Brynntrup is an artist and filmmaker who has been probing the limits of independent, personal and experimental film since the 80s. Very early in his art career, he started off with Super 8 films, but soon experimented with multiple projections and collaborations with other artists. With “Jesus, der Film” his collaboration took the form of a “cadavre exquis”, the joint product of a number of directors who only saw part of the work of their colleagues, but who all were asked to have Brynntrup play the main character, Jesus. The resulting feature-length film became a legend.
(Program notes, Directors Lounge, Berlin, June 2011 - Klaus W. Eisenlohr)

This film is the largest collective project in German film history. In the history of world cinema there are few works that can compare. [...] Furthermore in world cinema history it can be considered as the most important German contribution to the long series of biblical adaptations that have taken place over the years.
(Randall Halle, "Jesus: The Project", in: Jesus – Der Film – Das Buch, Verlag Vorwerk8, Berlin, June 2014)

The joint high mess of 80s German underground: An exercise in exquisite corps (and in some cases probably also automatic writing) for which artists from both nations shot episodes from the Good Book - not necessarily following the text too closely.
There's nothing in German film history quite like Jesus - Der Film, starting with the fact this is probably the sole joint endeavor by underground artists from the FRG and the GDR. Michael Brynntrup, the project's mastermind, invited directors and collectives he considered like-minded to each adapt a chapter of the Good Book. Everyone could do whatever they wanted (within limits Brynntrup monitored); nobody knew (in theory if probably not in practice) how the others were approaching their stories; several chapters were directed by Jesus B. himself. Call it an exercise in muted exquisite corps. The result is closer to the Bible's words and images than the Zealots might have you believe - even if the Maria Magdalena of Doris Kuhn is punished by lingerie-clad ladies, while for Jörg Buttgereit Jesus is a vampire who needs a stake to finally die.
(Catalogue IFFR 2015, www.iffr.com/en/films/jesus-der-film/ - uptodate20150121)

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Peter Keough: "»Jesus: Der Film« is silly, sublime", CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, May 22, 87

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Andreas Wildfang, "Jesus pre Digitales", ARTS in Buffalo, vol 1 N°24, 15.12.88

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Eraserhead: "Monument im Kleinformat - Ein sicherer Kandidat für den Cecil B. DeMille-Preis", berlinale-tip Nr.1/86, Berlin, Februar 1986

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Wiglaf Droste: "Jesus klebt!", die tageszeitung, Berlin, 15.02.86

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Bernd Kegel: "Der Toaster und das Abendmahl", Bielefelder Stadtblatt, 10.07.86

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Alexandra Jacobsen: "Das Neue Testament als Super8-Monumentalfilm"
Neue Westfälische Bielefeld, 11.07.86

Radio - Besprechung | radio - review
Bärbel Jäschke: "Du sollst dir kein Bildnis noch irgendein Gleichnis machen"
RIAS 1 'KIRCHENFUNK', Radio-Sendung vom 11.07.86

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
tom: "Mysteriöses Mysterium", Nürnberger Zeitung, 31.07.86

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Wolfgang Luck: "Jesus lebt!", Communale Heidelberg, 13.11.86

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Gero von Goell: "Jesus - der Film", Babsies Diktatur, Ausgabe 13, Januar 2004

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Silvia Hallensleben, "Missionieren im Super-8-Format", die tageszeitung, 04.09.2014

Radio - Besprechung | radio - review
Adolf Stock: "Jesus - der Film, Super-8-Film mit Kreuzigung als Splatter-Episode"
Deutschlandradio Kultur 'Religionen', Radio-Sendung vom 21.12.2014

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Laila Oudray, "Jesus – Der Film | Restauriert und digitalisiert", screen/read - webzine für Film & Kino, 30.12.2014

monografischer Artikel | monographic review
Martin Ostermann, "Totgesagte leben länger", FILM-DIENST, Nr.9/2015, Mai 2015

Bibliographie zu »Jesus - der Film« | bibliography on »Jesus - The Film«

Materialbuch zu »Jesus - der Film«, Verlag Vorwerk8, Berlin, Juni 2014

Pressestimmen - deutsch | reviews and articles - german