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The Body - Click to view! THE BODY (2001)
Starring Antonio Banderas, Olivia Williams.
Directed by Jonas McCord.
MPAA rating: PG-13

A film that never made it to the big screen because of extreme controversy, The Body (not to be confused with about 27 other movies with the same name) is a straight shooter to anyone who's ever doubted their faith. There's not a lot brewing on the action side of things; instead, this movie relies on deep, psychological premises to push its point across as it penetrates the heart of Christianity's biggest "what if?"

Antonio Banderas stars as Father Matt Gutierrez, a Vatican-appointed Jesuit priest on assignment in Jerusalem to investigate the latest findings of archaeologist Sharon Golban (Olivia Williams, The Sixth Sense). Apparently she's unearthed a rich man's tomb from underneath the humble store of an Israeli shopkeeper, and even more shocking is that a skeleton found inside is assumed by the archeologists to be the body of Christ. Not only does this catastrophic discovery threaten the foundation of Christianity, but it enrages the neighboring Palestinians and the Orthodox Jews that live in Jerusalem. What follows is a severe testing of Gutierrez's faith as he sets out to find the answers without getting himself killed in the process. Unfortunately, there are others who want answers as well, including Golban, and they will stop at nothing to get them.

While Banderas and Williams do an exceptional acting job, the most notable part of The Body is its content. Not a lot of time was wasted on lackluster special effects or scenes of dozens of exploding heads. Rather, the intricate plot of the script is what keeps you on the edge of your seat. Throughout the entire film, you see the conflict between religion and science portrayed between Gutierrez and Golban, with both sides taking their respective blows. "Why can't you see the truth?" asks Golban as she tries to convince Gutierrez that the body is indeed Christ's. "Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." To which Gutierrez replies, "We do not see the same truth. You see it with your eyes, but I'm asking you to see it with your heart. Why can't you know MY truth?" At these times and others, Banderas's character comes across as a shining example of faith in God, although at one point he comes very close to doubt. Yet in the end he is strengthened and his faith reaffirmed by the truth that "Blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen." During the course of the movie, viewers are forced to make several choices for themselves concerning the plot, so the outcome is based primarily upon the individual's perspective. In case you're worried about this film appealing to a certain audience, never fear; there is something for everyone. Although not chock full of action, there is enough suspense to make the men happy. For the ladies, there's a bit of a love story involved as well, though not as central as the movie's main premise.

The Body is in fact very controversial, but there's nothing offensive to Christianity here. The PG-13 rating is suitable for the two major profanities early in the film and some slight violence (gunshots and such, no severed limbs or spewing guts though). In the end, The Body will question the integrity of your faith, but rest assured that it won't let you down.
- Rick Foux
July 2002
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