A speculative film with a devout and respectful treatment of Christian themes.
Release Date: Friday, March 11, 2016
MPAA rating: PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements
Starring: Adam Greaves-Neal, Sara Lazzaro, Vincent Walsh, Sean Bean
Recommended age: 13+
Overall PTC Traffic Light Rating: Yellow
“Inspired by Scripture and rooted in history, this story imagines a year in the boyhood of Jesus,” reads the opening of this film. The boy Jesus, approximately age seven, leaves Egypt with his family and returns to Joseph’s home in Nazareth. During the journey, he begins showing signs of his divinity, such as healing his uncle of a fatal illness and bringing a dead child back to life. Jesus begins questioning who he is and why he can work miracles – but he is stalked by the Roman centurion Severus, who is under orders from King Herod to find and kill him. Jesus and his family travel to attend Passover in Jerusalem, leading to a moment of destiny for both the Roman soldier and the young messiah.
The film does contain some violence, though little of it is gory and most of it is implied. The film opens with Jesus being bullied and beaten by Egyptian boys; when the Devil (who is shown frequently dogging Jesus’ footsteps and trying to tempt him) causes the bully to die under circumstances that make it look like Jesus was responsible, Jesus brings him back to life. Jewish rebels are seen attacking a group of Roman soldiers, and the soldiers kill them all; but this is done in very rapid, blurred scenes which more imply violence than show it. A man killed by a servant girl after attempting rape, Severus stabbing a tortured Jew, and a flashback to Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, are handled similarly, with the actual violence occurring below or out of sight of the camera. The most graphic scene is one where Jesus and his family must travel down a road lined with crucified victims; again, no blood is shown, and the scene is more grim than gory. The only sexual element is a scene of a slave girl dancing provocatively for Herod. Language is not a problem for the film.
Based on Anne Rice’s book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, The Young Messiah is a reverent and thoughtful speculation on what the childhood of Christ may have been like. Many of its scenes are taken directly from the Bible, such as the Egyptian exile, the return to Nazareth, and Jesus astonishing rabbis with the depth of his knowledge (here split into two incidents, one in Nazareth, another in Jerusalem); others, though fictional, are in keeping with the devout and respectful mood established by the film.
Because of its quality and respectful treatment of Christian themes, the Parents Television Council is proud to award The Young Messiah with the PTC Seal of Approval®. The PTC recommends this movie for viewers over age 13.