TEHRAN (AFP) — A director who shares the ideas of Iran's hardline president has produced what he says is the first film giving an Islamic view of Jesus Christ, in a bid to show the "common ground" between Muslims and Christians.The laughs come fast and furious as Jesus and the Mahdi team up to save the world from evil Zionists and Crusaders. Every week, a new decadent Western country gets some major whoop-ass from the Dynamic Duo (PBUT). You'll be amazed and amused at how the sons of apes and pigs get what's coming to them!
Nader Talebzadeh sees his movie, "Jesus, the Spirit of God," as an Islamic answer to Western productions like Mel Gibson's 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," which he praised as admirable but quite simply "wrong".
Even in Iran, "Jesus, The Spirit of God" had a low-key reception, playing to moderate audiences in five Tehran cinemas during the holy month of Ramadan, in October.
The film, funded by state broadcasting, faded off the billboards but is far from dead, about to be recycled in a major 20 episode spin-off to be broadcast over state-run national television this year.
Talebzadeh insists it aims to bridge differences between Christianity and Islam, despite the stark divergence from Christian doctrine about Christ's final hours on earth.
"It is fascinating for Christians to know that Islam gives such devotion to and has so much knowledge about Jesus," Talebzadeh told AFP.
"By making this film I wanted to make a bridge between Christianity and Islam, to open the door for dialogue since there is much common ground between Islam and Christianity," he said.
The director is also keen to emphasise the links between Jesus and one of the most important figures in Shiite Islam, the Imam Mahdi, said to have disappeared 12 centuries ago but whose "return" to earth has been a key tenet of the Ahmadinejad presidency.
...In Talebzadeh's movie, God saves Jesus, depicted as a fair-complexioned man with long hair and a beard, from crucifixion and takes him straight to heaven.
"It is frankly said in the Koran that the person who was crucified was not Jesus" but Judas, one of the 12 Apostles and the one the Bible holds betrayed Jesus to the Romans, he said. In his film, it is Judas who is crucified.
Shiite Muslims, the majority in Iran, believe Jesus will accompany the Imam Mahdi when he reappears in a future apocalypse to save the world.
And Talebzadeh said the TV version of his film will further explore the links between Jesus and the Mahdi -- whose return Ahmadinejad has said his government, which came to power in 2005, is working to hasten.
Shiites believe the Mahdi's reappearance will usher in a new era of peace and harmony.
"We Muslims pray for the 'Return' (of Imam Mahdi) and Jesus is part of the return and the end of time," Talebzadeh said.
"Should we, as artists, stand idle until that time? Don't we have to make an effort?"
Coming this spring to Iranian TV!