- Movie Rating -

In Search of Historic Jesus (1979)

| January 25, 1980

Ahh Sunn Classic Pictures, where expensive hype meets mediocrity.

If you are of a certain age, then you might remember Sunn Pictures Classics.  They were a fast buck operation in service during the late 70s and early 80s with the goal of exploiting the current trend of conspiracy theories and historical revisionism.  They are the perpetrators of such fleshy titles as In Search of Noah’s Ark, The Outer Space Connection, The Lincoln Conspiracy, The Bermuda Triangle and The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena.  My personal favorite is The Late, Great Planet Earth, which offers predictions that the world is coming to an end based on recent events like the founding of Israel and the European Common Market.

The problem is that they were selling the eager movie-goer a bill of goods.  The studio made its money by four-walling movie theaters, renting them in advance and then dumping tons of money into advertising films that promised to actually solve unanswerable questions about the afterlife, Noah’s Ark, the Lincoln conspiracy and claimed that this film – this film – held the answers.

The sleight-of-hand was in the advertising.  After promising definitive proof of the unanswerable, the ads would tell you that the film was on a One Week Limited Engagement, Better Hurry!  At the end of the week, the ads would tell you that this was the “Last Day.”  Then the next day the ads would proclaim that the film had been “Held Over.”  What moviegoers didn’t know was that the whole deal had been made in advance and the theater rented for several weeks so that the ads could still run no matter how the movie was performing.

Yet, the biggest bit of Screw You came when you actually saw the movie.  Using a narrator in a tailored suit, a colorful library and some carefully edited experts with fancy titles under their names, the films didn’t offer any information at all.  Most of it was comprised of cheap recreations with bad actors shown under music fit for a slasher movie.

Now, all this wouldn’t be so bad in the case of, say, The Lincoln Conspiracy or The Bermuda Triangle because as conspiracies and phenomenon go, they’re pretty benign.  But In Search of Historic Jesus reaches a new low because the ads proclaimed that it was going to definitively answer the question of exactly where Jesus was during those 18 missing years in the Bible – the trailer says this.

What you get is a theoretical compose heap of one ‘maybe’ after another.  With dotted maps, we are told that maybe he went to India or maybe Persia, or maybe England.  The actual testament of what happened to Jesus during those 18 years is brought off the shelf by a host who shows something to you and then puts it back on the shelf, just like this whole movie.

The most sinister quality of this film is that it uses deeply held belief about Jesus to perpetrate a con game.  Never once does the movie ever delve into what Jesus had to teach us.  It is only interested in the gimmicks – he walked on water and he healed the sick, but nothing about the humanity that he was trying to portray.  This movie is a sick demonstration of a carnival con game.  Egress, please.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized