The Miracle Maker - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Miracle Maker Reviews

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May 3, 2015
The date is incorrect - this was made in 2000 by BBC Wales.

This is one of my favourite versions of the Greatest Story Ever Told on film. Ralph Fiennes plays Jesus excellently. The story is told faithfully, Jesus's stories, miracles, and of course the Resurrection. The Russian puppetwork is beautiful, almost lifelike for stop-motion. The Welsh animations are pretty good, too.

The companies that made this film also made a series of some of the more well-known parts of the Old Testament, too. That series is called "Testament: The Bible in Animation", which is also pretty good.
January 1, 2015
The miracle maker is very well realized gorgeous to look at and enjoyable.Despite some inaccuracy and mistakes in the story telling (especially toward the end) it manages to tell a very good depiction of the Jesus of the bible.
the Miracle maker is without doubt a great addition to the bible movies.
June 25, 2014
I am under the impression that there are some catholic bias.
June 17, 2014
I am so impressed and proud for the creators to make the story of Jesus suitable for kids while also keeping close to the real essence. Every family should show their kids this.
March 10, 2014
This is the true greatest Jesus Christ film! The stop motion's acting and facial expressions were really unbelievably well created. The story moved me!
October 28, 2013
This is a decent effort at presenting the story of Jesus in a way that can appeal to both children and adults. One thing to note, is how Jesus is portrayed. Someone once described the Jesus in Zeferelli's Jesus of Nazareth as 'a vacant eyed weirdo'.

In The Miracle Maker, Jesus is a lot more human. He laughs, and shows affection to children.
September 28, 2013
From memory (dont remember alot) This movie had awesome stop motion and alot of work was put into it should get more viewers
½ August 10, 2013
It's tough to cram the story of Christ into 91 minutes but this production did very well. In their need to tell so much in so little time certain events were overlapped and Jesus' words cropped. The result is that some things are lost from context; the ending in particular made it sound like Christ's kingdom *is* of this world--especially since Jesus' telling Pilate that His kingdom is *not* of this world was one of Jesus' Words cropped from the film.

All that said, I really enjoyed some of the concepts that the film put forth--notions that is okay to speculate on since Scripture is ambiguous: such as who the two men were on the road to Emmaus, that many of the people whom Jesus visited in the days after His resurrection were those whom He had befriended (but weren't one of the 12) or even healed; and that Jesus wept after learning of the death of His cousin, John.

Much of the story follows that of Jairus and his daughter, and so the audience is treated to a bit of fictional character department of these two key persons in the ministry of Jesus. It was repsectful, plausible, and well done.

The way flashbacks, the parables, and key events (like the temptation of Jesus in the desert, the raising of Lazarus, and His prayer in the garden) are handled--by way of pastel-themed animation that looks like chalk--was very interesting. I liked it very much and helped to illustrate the points in a special way.

Finally, the film gets definite marks for actually following Christ after His resurrection, where most adaptations end, right to His ascension. Until recently, an event rightfully celebrated in the Church on the level of Epiphany and the Transfiguration. And higher marks again for portraying Jesus' Ascension for what it actually was not what many people think when they see the word "ascension": that Jesus disappeared from the crowd and did *not* literally rise into the sky; Jesus Ascended to take His rightful place at God's side to be our Priest and Advocate before God on our behalf (see the Epistle to the Hebrews for more).
½ March 30, 2013
Certainly one of the best depiction of the gospel story by stop motion claymation and hand-drawn animation. It approaches the gospel with care and respect, depicting each character with true human qualities. Even where some liberties were taken, it actually added much depth to the gospel story. Simple, straightforward, profound.
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2012
Excellent story for all children to watch and enjoy. A few parents could benefit as well. 5 stars 8-21-12
½ April 16, 2012
It can be slow once in a while, but it's really a beautiful interpretation of the Easter story. I especially like how the girl Jesus resurrected became a major character, allowing us to see Him through the eyes of someone else. It seemed less like a historical film that way.
April 11, 2012
I have seen most of the "Jesus" movies and this one is my clear favorite. I find most of the characters utterly believable even though they are made of clay (or whatever it is). I have watched this movie from beginning to end this with my kids multiple times, and maybe once or twice by myself.
½ April 11, 2012
Good story about Jesus Christ in animation using puppets. Excellent movie for small children ages 3-7.
April 11, 2012
Stop-motion animation always leaves me gobsmacked. In this case it's particularly well done, sometimes combining drawn animation sequences (time constraints? budget? don't know...). Overall this is a very impressive rendition of the gospel story, fantastic for educating kids, but great for adults too. It's a shame this film isn't more widely known.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2012
"How do you tell the greatest story ever told?". That is a question which has plagued filmmakers since the invention of film. In the last hundred years they have come up with many different approaches to tell the story of Jesus, all of which have their own strengths and shortcomings.

We have The Passion of the Christ, which is preachy and exploitative of its subject to the point of outright manipulation. Mel Gibson forces Jesus' holiness down our throats in a barrage of bloodshed and torture, the explanation being that the pain we experience from watching it is but a fraction of that which He bore on the cross. We have The Last Temptation of Christ, in which Martin Scorsese explores the human side of Jesus, arguing that since he was wholly man as well as wholly God, He must have experienced and resisted the same desires as you and me. And we have Monty Python's Life of Brian, which recognises the need for humour, if not flippancy, to demonstrate the relevance of the story in contemporary society. Whatever their individual religious outlooks, the Pythons never sought to attack the character and teachings of Jesus so much as the mob's reaction to them.

All these efforts have their strengths (even The Passion), but they are all ultimately contrivances. They are artists' elaborations on the life of Jesus, a sideways glance at the Gospels rather than a literal, verbatim retelling. What makes The Miracle Maker interesting is that it is closer to the words of the Gospels than all its better-known, bigger-budget rivals.

The script does still involve dramatic devices (the story is told from the point of a view a girl who appears only fleetingly in the Bible), and no-one involved would begin to call it 'definitive'. But it is still a fine script, which brings out the lighter, more playful side of Jesus' teachings which many of the heavy-handed adaptations neglect. The screenwriter Murray Watts is a prolific playwright with the acclaimed Riding Lights Theatre Company, and knows how to capture the essence of the Biblical stories even when the language or setting has completely changed. In this instance, he has an easier task, but it is put together and directed in such an unfussy, understated way that it is fair to claim it is as close as one can get to the Gospels without simply having a narrator reading the verses.

Of course, being accurate doesn't necessarily make something cinematic, and there are moments in which The Miracle Maker does feel like an extended TV drama. Part of this lies in the project's roots; the animation is co-produced by the same Welsh team behind Testament, the Emmy-award winning BBC2 series of the 1990s, which took famous Biblical stories and presented them through different forms of animation. Some of the animation has either dated or looks off-putting; many of the clay-models have odd-shaped lips which make it seem like they are constantly pouting, and some will find the movements of these characters too jerky to seem believable.

Where the animation does come good is in the hand-drawn sections. There is greater scope here, but the writers rightly withhold these sections until key moments of emotion power, preventing the film from descending into the sinister world of Christian comics. The scenes of Jesus casting out Mary Magdalene's demons have a nightmarish quality, and the hand-drawn animation gives the transformation a sense of power which you wouldn't get in stop-motion. These sequences utilise shadows and flashbacks really well, giving a sense of terror without tripping over into anything which is unnecessarily gruesome. On the other hand, the animation helps to bring out the lighter sections of the film, particularly the 'speck in your brother's eye' parable or the story of the man who built his house upon the rock.

These kinds of touches are necessary in ensuring that The Miracle Maker avoids the trap of simply preaching to the converted. Arguably this is a lesser sin (so to speak) than stripping the teachings of Christianity down so that a mainstream crowd can follow it. And in general The Miracle Maker gets it right, with only occasional moments in which things seem cheesy, contrived or overplayed in the way which only Christians seem to appreciate.

When it comes to the performances in The Miracle Maker, it's very difficult to judge. Because the nature of God and therefore of Jesus is subject to speculation, one cannot praise an actor for 'perfectly capturing the character' of the Messiah. Ralph Fiennes is ideal from a voice point of view, because it has the potential for anger and purpose while retaining its gentle, welcoming quality. Certainly his performance is the highlight of the film, although Miranda Richardson is very good as Mary Magdalene (watch the making-of documentary for her facial expressions alone). Ken Stott is good as Simon Peter and Ian Holm is well-cast as Pontius Pilate, playing the character more as an uppity bureaucrat than the tormented soul in Jesus Christ Superstar.

As stupid as it may seem to say it, one of the big problems with many Christian films is that they finish in the wrong place. The torture and crucifixion of Jesus is played out prominently, held up for all to see, but the more important aspect of resurrection is often bolted on to the end. In The Passion of the Christ, there is only the briefest suggestion of the resurrection, with God turning up at the last minute just as He does in the works of Cecil B. De Mille. The Miracle Maker again gets this right, if almost by accident; the resurrection element takes up less room in the Gospels than the rest of Holy Week, and so it gets less screen time. The final lines themselves are slightly toe-curling in a sub-Stephen Spielberg way, although it's hard to see how else this particular account could have been resolved.

The Miracle Maker is not a perfect film by any means, either as a standalone piece of animation or as a religious document. But in a marketplace which is dominated by films which either go too far or completely neglect their intended audience, it is a welcome addition for its complete lack of pretension or exaggeration for dramatic effect. It's a solid attempt to put the story of Jesus up on screen for a family audience, and it strikes a good balance between being faithful to the stories and carving out its own identity. With all the controversy surrounding Christianity of film, it is a happy little oasis in a burning desert, to which the occasional return is more than welcome.
April 3, 2012
One of the best interpretations I have ever seen! Great animation and voice acting! I loved how the film followed closely to the scriptures and presented believable characters. It deserves more recognition than what it was given.
½ February 9, 2012
A very accurate and well-made account of Christianity's beginning.
½ January 17, 2012
Excellent Piece Of Children's Cinema Which Depicts Certain Points In Jesus' Life. I Was Hooked From Start To Finish. I Really Think It Explains The Biblical Events Very Well & I Would Have To Say, It's My Second Favourite Depiction Of Christ's Life, I've Seen So Far.
September 16, 2011
awesome!!!!!!! best claymation film ever
April 24, 2011
The stop-motion is good, so are the animated bits. It's got a great voice cast and has some good moments. All-in-all: great Easter film.
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