The Real Face of Jesus?
I found this ‘documentary’ immensely frustrating. Perhaps
unease set in from the very beginning, with the title taking the form of
a question. Then again, maybe we should assume from the start that any
matters dealing with religion cannot by definition provide a definite
answer and so we should not get too worked up over this point.
I found the narration constantly breathless and
needlessly anticipatory. There is a lot of repetition, accounting no
doubt for the built-in ad breaks which the DVD mercifully does not
At its heart, The Real Face of Jesus is about a
team of graphics artists and other experts who attempt to decipher the
famous Shroud of Turin, which purports to have been the wrapping cloth
of Jesus Christ after his Crucifixion (all charmingly told in the
Gospels). With much reference to a famous 1978 ‘scientific’ study, in
which the Catholic Church granted round the clock access for five days
to a group of experts, the current team aims to construct a 3D image of
what Jesus may possibly have looked like.
They attempt all sorts of things, like carbon-dating,
manuscript analysis, ‘the historical record’ (whatever that is), and all
manner of pseudo-scientific mythological entanglements to prove and
disprove arguments for and against this piece of linen being authentic.
The way the documentary is constructed is irritating,
with a lot of to-and-fro cuts and the aforementioned repetition. But
then there is the material itself. You get to the end with pretty much
the question unanswered. It’s enough to get you in a lather. The
attempted matching of ‘impressive’ high-tech equipment and long-lost
misty mediaeval curios does not gel; nor it is compelling.
Perhaps the most annoying thing is the show’s deliberate
attempt to present the muddy vehicles of ‘scientific religion’ and
‘religious science’. Having a Catholic priest who can also use a
microscope does not a convincing argument make. A thoroughly sceptical
approach (or conversely, a hilariously ultra-faithful one) would at
least have been more entertaining than this wishy-washy catch-all
collection ‘what if... then...’ nonsense hypotheses that run over and
into each other and lead nowhere.
disc has no bonus features and sound is Dolby 2.0. The image quality is