The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus Movie Poster Image
Birth of Christianity artfully animated; biblical violence.
  • NR
  • 2000
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The teachings of Jesus are spoken throughout. Jesus preaches and uses parables to encourage love, peace, kindness, humility, forgiveness, and belief in God and to motivate his followers to "build God's kingdom on earth."

Positive Role Models & Representations

As portrayed, Jesus is wise, gentle and strong, incorruptible, honest, brave, and loving toward all. Many of those whose lives he touches are able to change their lives and begin to follow his precepts. Set in the Holy Land, the animated characters reflect the geographical location and are an ethnically rich mixture of light-skinned and dark-skinned people. 

Violence

Numerous intense scenes in which plotters plot, Jesus is in danger, and life is at stake. Violent scenes include a woman knocked to the ground as an official raises his whip to her; robbers bloodying a victim; and Jesus's crucifixion shot at careful angles -- he's bloodied, his hands are punctured, and he clearly suffers. Several very ill characters are near death. Jesus collapses from exhaustion. Flashback scenes using traditional animation show villains with scary faces and obvious evil intention. Offscreen deaths (John the Baptist, Lazarus) referenced.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine as part of a sacrament.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus is a European production, in English, that tells Jesus' story based on the New Testament Gospel of Luke using sophisticated stop-action puppets (Claymation) techniques. Jesus' teachings, the miracles he performed, his ultimate recognition as the son of God, and the brutal treatment he and his converts receive from the Romans are the film's focus. Violent scenes (the crucifixion, the whipping of "Mad" Mary) are handled with care; minimal blood and pain are shown. Illness, with some characters on the brink of death, and some references to off-camera deaths are an integral part of the story of Jesus as a healer. The puppets have a wide variety of skin tones -- light, dark, and darker -- which accurately reflects the racial makeup of the Holy Land during Jesus' lifetime. Over five years in the making and originally aired on television in Great Britain, the movie attracted a roster of major actors and actresses. Many of the concepts and the teachings, as well as the miracles performed, may require some explanation or discussion with younger kids. Even older ones will benefit from having some previous knowledge of the biblical events and religious precepts depicted in the movie. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byI'm to Tired fo... May 14, 2017

The Best Thing you Never Heard of

I watch a lot of animated films and seek out the very best that I can find. This film is a gem. You might find it too violent for children, but something that... Continue reading
Adult Written byBecky.schmitz April 14, 2017

Wonderful Lenten and Easter movie

We love the sound biblical portrayal of Jesus Life death and resurrection. The film makers make if easily watched by children with much symbolism that allows ad... Continue reading

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What's the story?

THE MIRACLE MAKER: THE STORY OF JESUS opens with Jesus' journey to Galilee, where he preaches to its citizens, inspires them, performs miracles, and challenges the ongoing Roman occupation. The story stays basically true to the Gospel of Luke, as Christianity begins to flourish in the region. Classic events such as Lazarus rising, the exorcism of Mary Magdalene (portrayed here as "mad," not as a prostitute), the loaves and fishes, and healing the sick and dying are included, as are a number of fundamental parables that define and illustrate Jesus' teachings. As Jesus gathers his disciples and his congregation multiplies, various factions fear the consequences of such untraditional ideals and messages and begin a campaign to get rid of this professed Messiah. The Romans have the upper hand, and, with the help of Judas' betrayal, Jesus is taken captive, judged, and crucified, only to rise to complete his journey and lead his constituents into righteousness.   

Is it any good?

For young viewers, the film's complex themes, life-and-death situations, and climactic crucifixion scenes may be too intense. And, as an introduction to the teachings of Jesus and the precepts of Christianity, sharing with grown-ups is recommended even for older kids and tweens

This production garnered an A-list of voice actors in principal roles, including Ralph Fiennes as Jesus, along with Julie ChristieMiranda RichardsonWilliam Hurt, Alfred Molina, and Ian Holm as supporting players. The animation, painstakingly created over several years, is a stellar example of the stop-action genre. The filmmakers' intention of making this movie true to Luke's Gospel and family-friendly at the same time is obvious; leaving out the sexual nature of Mary Magdalene's transgressions and creating the character of Tamar, a young girl, as the centerpiece in Jesus's healing powers certainly will help those intentions. The integrating of traditional cell animation to depict past events and parables may be confusing to some; others will find that it enhances their experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which audiences the filmmakers were trying to reach with this film. Does the fact that they created the character of Tamar for this movie help answer this question? How does the girl's narration make the movie more relevant for young viewers? 

  • How did you feel about seeing two kinds of animation in one movie? Did the addition of the 2-D (or traditional cell animation) for flashbacks and parables make the Claymation scenes seem more or less real? If your answer is "more real," can you explain why?

  • Look up the history of Claymation (or of stop-action or animation). Find out what it takes to create the puppets, their movements, their expressions, and their speech. Try to make one puppet out of clay or another molding material to get a sense of what the art entails.

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