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Paul, the Apostle

Billy writes:

This film is directed by Roget Young, who has directed several Old Testament movies as well as JESUS with Jeremy Sisco as Jesus. Experienced director.

But this film has many problems.

The opening of the film is a mess; it kind-of sets the scene for all kinds of short comings and problems that this film is littered with.

The script sets up Paul and his (movie) friend Ruben as peers, fiends of a kind.

After chaotic opening images with the opening credits, owe witnes a playful wrestle fight between the 2 protagonists. A fun thing to do, but so very much out of character with the rest of the movie. Ruben is a fictional character. Scripture doesn’t place Paul in Jerusalem, even while Luke tells us in Acts that Paul might have been a student of teacher Gamaliel (who is based in Jerusalem).

Throughout the first half hour of the film Paul and Ruben are played opposite (and sometimes alongside) one-another. This effects the story so deeply, that the rest of the film suffers from it; the overall story is out-of-sinc by a long way from what scripture actually gives.

There are several other problems with this movie. It look like we are given PENTECOST through some feeble scene where there’s a little wind, and some extra flames on a candle, with a bunch of people acting happy. If this is Pentecost, what a dismal affair!

Peter speaks to a small crowd with John by his side. The small crowd throws back cynical comments. It all looks so very feeble. Later on one of the Pharisees mentions the ‘large crowd’ (that we never saw) all following the ‘false teaching’.


Sadly this film looks like a poorly written stage-play, that has been filmed on a small budget. The whole thing is so very unconvincing. Typical for TV drama, it’s non-stop dialoge; talking heads. I wonder how Roger Young felt about it all. I imagine he knew that this film is a problematic piece, to put it mildly; I guess by the time this project went into production under his directorship, it was too late to fix the problems.


The scripts makes an attempt to explain to the audience the differences between Pharisees and Sadducees, but it is an academic piece of information put into the drama that is loaded-up with non-stop dialogue (much of which is useless banter). 

DRAMA is the language of feature film (TV series), but in this movie the DRAMA, the need for extra Biblical characters, and the need for all kinds of insane plot twists & turns, ENTIRELY SPOILS the hole enterprise.

It would be interesting to ask someone who doesn’t know anything about the story of Paul (as written in scripture), to see this film, and then to asks this person for a few TAG-LINES of the film. They could put it:

-How two friends manage to get killed early in life…

-Jews, Romans, they’re all mad…

-The Life of Brian, 2

My own description of the quality of this movie, or the lack thereof, would be:

A right mess! The script is a disaster.The acting is either boring, overdone, silly, incoherent, amateuristic.  This film was made not too long ago, but it feels like much older. Some of that is to do with the terrible script (including many bad choices regarding unhelpful characters, over-heavy dialogue, ridiculous story-lines etc.), bad acting, insufficient crowd-work (often too little/ some of it overdone). The music to this film feels from a long-ago ara; it is too heavy, too loud, too busy.

The ridiculous relationship between the Ruben character and his girlfriend/ wife Dina becomes a huge obstacle to the story of the film. It totally gets in the way of the story of Paul; that story hardly gets going. In scripture Paul spends very little time in Jerusalem; his entire life is well away from Jerusalem, including many years ‘on the road’. The drama of this film is mostly focussed on Jerusalem. Big mistake in the writing of the script. If this film were to be about Paul, it should not have been SET in Jerusalem. Wrong place for his story. Because of this bad choice, Pauls’ story gets twisted and beyond that also dominated by the Ruben character (and all of his twisting & turning). What a disaster!

Even the Paul actor, Johannes Brandrup, represented poor casting to me. He is too European (white South African?) for me, too good looking, too young, too white. He spoke a lot of dialogue, but from his character I got different messages. His character did not EMBODY a man who grew up in the Middle East, or a Jewish scribe; not even a man who had fallen in love with Jesus…

Initially I didn’t like the Barnabus character either; too flimsy for me; too comedic. But after a while, I began to warn to him a little bit. The disciple John was too young (looked like a teenager); Peter was OK, but I missed any kind of fire from him; too bland, no passion; little authority. NO sense of an actual disciples TEAM. The whole subject of The KINGDOM of HEAVEN now active on earth, was missing altogether. There was no sense of a new movement sweeping through the area; just a few odd Jesus preachers appearing here & there. No healings, now power!


In the last half hour (or so) of the film Pilate kept appearing in the Temple, where the Jewish elders had their meetings. This film takes the classical approach of telling the story; it is all set in so-called historical locations; actors in historical costumes etc. There is NO WAY that Pilate would be found participating in a Jewish Sanhedrin meeting; yes, there is he, over and over again. Not right!

Had this been a modern drama using symbolism, then perhaps this kind of trick would be OK. But not here. This is worse than poor writing. This is the level of writing that’s applied in episodic TV drama; written and produced on the fly. 

King Herod himself actually killing a man, on the steps of his palace, as a show for the people; what was the need for this? It seems that the script-writers had their priorities all wrong. Were they afraid that the actual story of Paul wasn’t ‘entertaining’ enough? And so, they invented a bunch of extra story-lines and spectacle, to keep the viewer hooked to the film. This very action actually killed the story of Paul before it even got going.  Did the writers ever seriously consider the story of Paul? Did they look for ways of dramatizing Paul’s actual LIFE (which was 99% outside of Jerusalem)?

Perhaps the producer of this movie was given the use of all these ‘Jerusalem sets’ for a brilliant small price. So he instructed the film maker to set the story of Paul largely in Jerusalem (even though Paul was hardly ever there..). As a result, in this movie, Paul kind-of features on the side of several characters and a whole bunch of story material that are not in scripture. 

I did not like how this film cuts the 13th chapter of Corinthians (the love-chapter) up in pieces. Good that this text is in the movie; cutting it up, another bad choice…


I mentioned earlier that Roger Young, director might have been unhappy with this project, but by the time his job began (a week or soo before filming began) it was too late to salvage this thing. Would be interesting to get the real (behind-the-scenes) story of what went on, before, during and after production.

Any redeeming facts worth mentioning?  

Heaven spoke a couple of times to Paul, while the image went light (as if there was extra light falling on him, a bit like when the sun rakes through). I found that an interesting choice, and it worked OK. Own the other hand, it happened too easily. I never got any sense of Paul actually developing a relationship with the lord (heaven’s voice). I’m keen to read scripture again, to double check on many details. 


My understanding is that Paul left the area (in Israel) soon after he had been converted and had met some of the disciples, just briefly. He left for several years, to grow in his relationship with heaven, back in his home environment.  Hugely important years, well away from the tensions in Jerusalem. This film gives us none of that. 

Paul, the Apostle of Christ

Billy writes:

Paul, the Apostle of Christ

With Jim Caviezel as Luke and James Faulkner as Paul.


Saw this film today (March 24, 2021); beautifully made, and with abundant sincerity.

Paul the Apostle has been given way to little screent time and so this initiative is very welcome. Watching the film did give me a feel of what was happening at that time, in Rome; how extreme it was. The film makers achieved that with very few means, and so I applaud their work. The story is fairly small-scale (if you like), but within that scale the (limited) story comes alive and unfolds, step by step. With good acting and great cinematography I was taken in and willing to ‘suspend my dis-belief’; but only just!

The character of the Roman prison boss was interesting, and well played, I think, but as a story within the larger story, barely believable. Then again, unexpected things happen in life, even unlikely thing; in films it’s the same. The events around the man’s sick daughter produced an interesting situation which, in the end, saved Luke’s life and brought the larger story (of Paul nearing his execution) into a better light. Slightly sentimental though, this somewhat fabricated turn-of-events; but it brought relief and a sense of sweetness at the end, making Pauls’ execution more bearable. 

The film spent quite a bit of time on Paul still trying to come to terms with his aggressive past. The flash-backs look great; beautiful film-making, again, with fairly simple means. When I saw a few images of the ‘making-off’ it was clear that they worked with a small location where they really made the most with simple means. This film has the feel of a big film, even while it was made within very humble limits. Impressive!


Script written by Andrew Hyatt, who is also the director. This guy is clearly inspired and brought us (the viewer) into close contact with Paul and with Luke. We get a feel of these men’s relationship and we get a sense of the depth of their hard lives and their continued commitment to the FAITH, even as they prepare to lay down their lives.

I would like to see this film again, hopefully sometime soon. I would like to let it sink-in a little more. There is something very precious and powerful in this film, even while there are some serious limitation. At another occasion I might take a closer look at the story of this film; what happens within the Christian community, and how a bunch of young guys decide to take-up the sword. I was expecting some very serious consequences of the killings by this group, retaliation dished out to the community (the church). That didn’t happen. At the end the church people begin to make their way out, and then -in some spiritual way- they all meet Paul and embrace him. At that point Paul sees a silhouette of a man (we presume, it is Jesus) and begins to walk to Him. Beautiful ending, but for me, also thin-on-the-ground storytelling. A little too sweet for my liking. I understand, you want to send the viewer home with the feel-good factor nice and high.


When I think of the Apostle Paul, I think of a man who was by training a scribe (a Pharisee), and a man who knew (the Hebrew) scripture extremely well. A man who was uniquely gifted in understanding the Messiah’s Kingdom of Heaven, now on earth. This inspired man wrote many brilliant letters, providing the early church (and the eternal church) with the power of God’s word. Amazing, think of it, what Paul wrote, the text coming from this man’s mind (and heart), miraculously turned into Scripture; like Jesus turning water into wine. Human words become God’s WORD. Powerful.

There is little of this MIRACULOUS & LIFE-GIVING TRANSFORMATION in the story of this film. Paul is an old man still coming to terms with his somewhat aggressive start in in life. The film (the script) seems to suggest that this deep regret that Paul still feels In this film), is the THORN in the flesh that (we know from scripture) Paul is asking God to release him from. An interesting interpretation, but I’m not so sure about that. Reading Gary Will’s book: ‘What Paul really meant’ makes me wonder about Luke’s portrayal of Paul’s early days anyway; and even apart from that, as soon as Paul meets the Lord, his way of dealing with his pharisaical start in life, is to go passionately into the opposite direction. He goes all-out as an Apostle of Jesus; tirelessly proclaiming (and explaining) the good news for the rest of his life.


If I understand it correctly, Paul began his letter-writing from his Roman prison; it was his way of continuing the work of looking after all the churches that he had started. Wouldn’t Paul be consumed with worries and thoughts regarding these churches?! I see him dictate more letters; I see him go over things that happened in those churches, when he was there, and also in his absence. Who-ever visits him will hear Paul’s thoughts and wisdom, regarding these churches and also (of course) regarding the Romans. 

I would think that Paul had better things to do than worry over his early beginnings. He was not only a brilliant teacher and writer, he was also a man with a powerful anointing; many miracles happened through him. This is the Paul that I was keen to get to know, but it wasn’t the Paul this film presented.

One day (soon) some film maker is going to make a powerful film on the (whole) life of Paul. That really will be a BIG FILM, including the many journeys of Paul and how he was ship wrecked and spent 2 days surviving at sea. Paul himself provides a list of all the intense physical situations and conflicts he experienced over the years of his travels. Alongside that stand the powerful spirit-filled meetings that he held.

At one time Paul spoke to a congregation well into the small hours; a young person, sitting in a window, fell asleep and then fell out of that window, and (if I’m correct) falling 2 floors down to their death. But Paul raised this young person to life right away. Paul was a man with tremendous spiritual authority and anointing. It will not be an easy task, but some one, someday, is going to write a brilliant script on this very LARGE STORY! 

At the end of Paul’s life, the seed of his life (totally surrendered to Jesus), as it was sown, will produce a powerful harvest of a ’see of witnesses’, a multitude of missionaries. How shocking that it took 1500 years (?) before the printing press was invented, and even then it took the lives of several martyrs before scripture was finally translated (and printed & distributed) so that Paul’s letters could be read by multitudes.   

Pelle de Conqueror - Bille August/ Max von Sydow/ Pelle

Beautiful film. Both Max von Sydow and the boy, played by Pelle, are fascinating to watch. Saw this film years ago, and now -seeing it again- it is perhaps even better then years earlier. The film stood the test of time; it's a classic!

People like us - surprisingly good

Peter & Paul, tv series

Billy's comments:

I saw the whole movie Tuesday March 9th, 2021. Marcia brought it home from the local library; I hadn't even asked for it.

An old film indeed, but how wonderful to have Anthony Hopkins as PAUL. Paul comes over afresh, in spite of an old and dated movie. Just recently Anthony Hopkins appeared in a film as an older man who suffers from memory loss (on & off). Apparently he is brilliant! Hopkins is now 83 years old; still going strong! 

First off, what I like about this film, is that it covers the story of the 2 most prominent figures in the era of the birth-of-the-church. This film does not give you lots of extra-(non)-biblical material, like other A.D. films do, even though much of the script has been 'invented'; the writers have kept close to the story we are given in scripture (Book of Acts); at least, that is my impression. Some other day, I would like to check the scenes (and dialogue) of this film against what scripture gives us, exactly.

Not an easy story, but perhaps to the film maker's credit they haven't tried to polish it up. The film left me feeling SAD. So much conflict, even between the brothers, so much persecution and violence; so much HARDSHIP. The execution of Paul at the end, and also of Peter being crucified up-side-down, is AWFUL to watch. And it's the end of the movie….

There's a young boy, coming seemingly out of nowhere, walking toward the cross, which is in the middle of nowhere, it seems. To see this child looking perplexed at the cruelty of this man bleeding to death while hanging upside down on a large wooden pole, in the middle of an empty field…  (very strange image to me, on which to end this film.

I suppose, only after the film was made, the film maker could see what they had done. The best improvements would have had to be at the SCRIPT WRITING stage (of the work).

The Holy Spirit's involvement, especially with Paul, could and should be STRONGER & CLEARER. Somewhere in Acts, the text tells us how Paul spoke to a congregation, people sitting in windows and on various levels, and speaking right into the small hours. A young man (a boy?) falls asleep and falls down by 2 levels (or so). He might have died, right there. But Paul comes over to the boy, and -after prayer- the boy is alive and well.  Sadly we don't wee this event in the film. We also don't experience PENTECOST, and Peter preaching to the crowd. Why has that been left out? IT should be a GREAT OPENER of this story, the HOLY SPIRIT is the MAIN CHARACTER in the lives of Peter and of Paul.

Interesting to see how Peter and Paul relate to each other; they respect one another, but -at some point- they fall out with each other. They don't see one another for years. Yet, they are both concerned for the other, all the way through. Sad in a way, that they didn't work this out very much. I like to think that, through the work ing of the SPIRIT, they had a stronger, and more positive connection.

Luke is an interesting character; the actor has a good voice and a fabulous (Shakespearean) diction. Yet, what is his interest in staying with Peter; it doesn't become clear (to me). Why is he not practicing medicine instead?

The way Paul begins to make plans, traveling further out, seems rather haphazard; the scene of thinking-where-to-take-the-gospel is nicely acted, but I like to think that Paul was more systematic, and better informed as to where he wanted to go. 


The scene of Paul parching in Corinth (?) was good (apart from everything that was not so good in the same scene). Paul seems to make an invitation; nobody responds. Then a young guy calls out: does the preacher have magic powers; the crowd laughs. This is a good way into what follows, and the crowd laughing is wonderful. A moment of entertainment; a spontaneous moment. Paul joins the crowd in laughter; he is well relaxed and not heavy-handed. He walks up to the young man; an excellent move (both spiritually speaking, and as a piece of film making). The young man then makes it clear: he is crippled. Now Paul initiates a beautiful and powerful moment: he puts faith into action, holds out his hand for the young man to grab, so that he can help him on his feet. Healing is taking place; the young man rises, literally and in his faith. I would have loved to see more moments like this.

It struck me on occasion, how Paul would go through huge trouble to reach people in a certain town for the gospel, and build a beginning of a 'church' family, but then, he would leave them to it; the harvest was calling him. He would leave town, and you see him walk, all by himself, on his way to the next town, where he will have to go through all the same hardship all over again. Wow! What a passionate man!  But I do think that this story (of Paul, working by himself) and also the bigger story of the other apostles (especially in Jerusalem) can be told better, stronger. 


Even the BEAUTY of it, and the POWER can be brought out better.  Much to do with SCRIPT WRITING; also with the way it is filmed. However, Anthony Hopkins stole my heart; he was so very passionate, and yet, held back (most of the time); wonderfully bright, kind, inclusive, humble, loving, forgiving, quick to take the blame, poetic, almost musical. I would have loved to see his preaching, almost as a piece of music, building and weaving, flowing and dancing. I think he might have been an excellent teacher, full of heart while also sharp, bright, inspired!

The music is obviously very dated. This story will require a truly artistic approach, half dreaming almost. Paul dreams on accession. Peter has a vision (?). I never saw anybody getting baptized. Ofter the extras are clearly non-actors (the budget wouldn't allow…); that can produce difficult moments, just at moments where we should see how the crowd is beginning to be inspired etc.



Prince of Egypt

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