Today the Church keeps the feast of the Holy God-bearing Fathers of the first six œcumenical councils. See the blog entry for 15 July 2012 for an account of this feast. Since the 1st Œcumenical Council, the Council of Nicæa, is included in this feast, I would like to revisit an earlier blog entry, ‘Nicæa the Movie,’ 15 January 2014. There I noted that a movie on the Council of Nicæa was in production.
Randy Engel interviewed the movie’s promoter, Charles Parlato, on the Renew America website on 6 February 2014. Parlato said that he planned Nicæa as a response to the 2006 movie made of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. ‘If Hollywood has its way, Dan Brown’s version of the history of the Council of Nicaea will prevail unless it is contested on the same battlefield, that is, the battlefield of the popular cinema.’ The version of history that he is referring to is the allegation, now almost mainstream, that ‘the Emperor Constantine, by his machinations and strong-arming, made [the man] Jesus God on earth.’
Parlato shows that he is orthodox on the Trinity: ‘The Council of Nicaea strongly reaffirmed this central teaching that Jesus Christ is both God and man, that he possesses both a divine and a human nature. It was the bishops at the Council, gathered from the four corners of the Empire, who reaffirmed this doctrine. Constantine had nothing to do with it.’
He hoped to emulate another movie, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ (2004), which was very controversial, very popular and made lots of money, but he came face to face with the Hollywood system, which sees movies strictly in terms of how much profit they make and did not think the Council of Nicæa had the same box-office appeal as Jesus being crucified. As a businessman, he came up with a solution to his financial problem: he set up a ‘new fundraising concept called Investors4Charity (I4C)’, in which donors could make an investment on line and specify their favourite charity, to which their share of the profits, if any, would flow.
That was all happening a year and more ago. Since then, the production seems to have sunk below the horizon. It got as far as casting one role: ‘a wonderful character actor for one of the important supporting roles although I cannot as yet reveal his name.’ It would be interesting to know what the ‘important supporting role’ was—could it possibly be Arius?—but we are unlikely ever to learn. Jamil Dehlavi, who was to have directed Nicæa, was interviewed by Hasan Zaidi on the Dawn website on 25 July 2014 and made no mention of the project. By now the I4C website is closed and the the domain name nicaeathemovie.com has expired and not been renewed.
Perhaps it’s all for the best. Somehow I doubt that the movies are a suitable medium for theology. An example is Peter Jackson’s film of The Lord of the Rings (2001–03), which replaced Tolkien’s profoundly Christian vision with a purely pagan one, probably inevitably. In any case, The Da Vinci Code does not claim to be more than fiction. It makes an appeal to the perennial fascination with conspiracy theories and caters to the popular gnostic taste of the moment but hardly amounts to something worth historical or theological debate.
Occasional comments by a convert to Orthodoxy.