Test of faith

paul apostleReview by TIM LAM

FILM | PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST | M

Paul is one of the most significant figures in Christian history, so it is surprising there has yet to be a major Hollywood production about his life.

Paul, Apostle of Christ details the final days of Paul (James Faulkner, Game of Thrones) as he awaits his execution.

Thirty years after the death of Jesus, the underground church movement in Rome is in a precarious position. The small, tight-knit Christian community struggles to survive in the face of relentless persecution from Emperor Nero. Christians are burnt alive at the stake and used as human ‘torches’ to light the city at night.   

At great risk to his own life, Luke the Evangelist (Jim Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ) ventures into Rome to visit Paul, who is held captive in Nero’s darkest prison cell. Luke vows to transcribe and smuggle out Paul’s letters to the growing community of Christian believers outside Rome.

The decision to set the film in the final days of Paul’s life is a bold choice given that the apostle is best known for his conversion on the road to Damascus. But this film is not just Paul’s story; it is also the tale of the persecuted Christians who cling steadfastly to their faith in almost unimaginable circumstances.

Paul, Apostle of Christ may not be as visually impressive as this Easter’s other religious film Mary Magdalene, but it has a more coherent narrative and stronger character arcs.

All the major characters in the film experience a crisis of faith. Some struggle with Jesus’ radical call to love their enemies, which includes the Roman oppressors. Others are forced to confront the heartbreaking prospect of leaving their homes behind and becoming refugees.

Despite the grim and violent tone of the movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ ultimately conveys a message of hope. The real heroes are not always ones who topple empires, but those who keep on loving in a world where hatred seems to flourish.

Paul, Apostle of Christ was released in cinemas on 29 March.

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