Backstories: “The Chosen”
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
I’m late to this celebration.
A few years ago, I began receiving email invitations to watch a crowdfunded TV series about Jesus. I ignored them. Then, more recently, friends began to ask me what I thought of the series, and I ignored them too. Finally, I decided to watch an episode or two, although mostly out of a perverse hunger to review it with the gimlet eye I bring to anything overhyped and under-produced.
Now, two full seasons into watching The Chosen (five more are planned), I happily admit I was wrong not to have begun watching when it was first released. Without a doubt, it’s the best-ever presentation of the life of Our Lord on film.
I’ve always been especially fond of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth, which is both very painterly and very Catholic, features a truly all-star cast, and includes marvelous music by Maurice Jarre.
The Chosen, on the other hand – which is the brainchild of Dallas Jenkins – features an all-character-actor cast: the kind of actors whose faces you may recognize without knowing their names or remembering what you saw them in. Mr. Jenkins, who directs every episode and participated in writing all of them, threw a wide – you might say Galilean fisherman’s – net in casting his series: a very bold move indeed, given the schedules of working actors. It’s one thing to keep a cast together for one or two seasons. . .but seven?