If the Bible is the most widely read book of all time, the figure of Jesus has attracted the hearts and minds of the greatest artists, poets, writers and filmmakers. Regardless of one’s creed or culture, readers of every age are attracted to the luminous beauty of Christ’s words and the questions raised by a life in which the splendor of the Truth unfolds. How many yesterday and today, believers and non-believers, artists and scientists, have exclaimed in fascination, along with the disciples at Emmaus, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, opening the scriptures to us?” (cf. Luke 24:32).
One of the great masters of cinema, Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889-1968), captivated by the person of Jesus, translated an encounter with the Christ of the Gospels into his film work in different ways. His most important films depicted in a human, highly personal and original way the events of the passion of the Son of God. This is the case with The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d’Arc, 1928), where the French saint is juxtaposed with Christ; Dies Irae (1943), in which the protagonist Anna tragically confronts the obscurantism of her era; and The Word (Ordet, 1955), in which young Johannes believes he is Christ. Even earlier, in his unique Leaves from Satan’s Book (Blade af Satans Bog, 1921), an episodic film in which Satan’s action among men in four different historical epochs is depicted, he had sketched in a unique way some details of Christ’s passion.