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Jesus Of Montréal

March 20, 2012 by staff 

Jesus Of Montréal, Jesus of Montreal (French: Jésus de Montréal) is a 1989 Canadian film directed by Denys Arcand. The film centers on a group of actors in Montreal, Canada who are gathered by Daniel, an actor hired by a Roman Catholic site of pilgrimage (“le sanctuaire”) to present a Passion play in its gardens.

The sanctuary is implied to be Saint Joseph’s Oratory (although this organization actually refused permission to film there). In fact, the idea for the film came to its director after an actor apologized for appearing with a beard at an audition. The actor explained that he had the role of Jesus in a passion play at St-Joseph’s Oratory. Arcand went to see the play and recalls “I saw actors in a mediocre production which received shouted applause from the tourists. I decided I had to make a film”.[1]

The actors’ interpretation of the life of Jesus is unconventional (including, for example, the statement that the biological father of Jesus was a Roman soldier, who left Palestine shortly afterwards). Still, it draws on current academic theories and research. The challenging production becomes the toast of the city. The higher authorities of the religious order that controls the sanctuary (or of the Roman Catholic Church, this is left vague) strongly object to this Biblical interpretation, and forcefully stop a performance.

After an ensuing accident, Daniel is first taken by ambulance to a Catholic hospital. He is completely neglected there and leaves. He then collapses on a Montreal Metro platform.

The same ambulance takes him to Jewish General Hospital. Despite immediate, skilled, and energetic efforts by the doctors and nurses to revive him, Daniel is pronounced brain-dead. Daniel’s doctor asks for the consent of his friends to take Daniel’s organs for donation (since Daniel has no known relatives). Daniel’s physician states that the staff would have been able to save him, if he had been brought to them half an hour earlier.

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