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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

‘The Book of Clarence’ adds clever spin to Christian narrative

Left+to+right%3A+Alfre+Woodard+and+LaKeith+Stanfield+in+a+scene+from+the+film+The+Book+of+Clarence.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures, Moris Puccio
Left to right: Alfre Woodard and LaKeith Stanfield in a scene from the film “The Book of Clarence.”

“The Book of Clarence” is another story about a down-on-his-luck man who utilizes both his cunning and wits to trick people to make his way to the top; only this time, it is Jesus Christ who inspires him to do so.   

This film takes you back to 33 A.D. to experience the time of Christ through the eyes of Clarence, a nonbeliever played by LaKeith Stanfield. The audience sees a man who, despite being a contemporary of Jesus, believes that all his miracles are simply tricks he can replicate to gain wealth and fame. He is joined by Elijah, played by RJ Cyler, a scrappy child, and Barabbas, portrayed by Omar Sy, the man destined to be set free when Jesus is chosen to be crucified over him.  

While marketed as an epic and comedic new take on the traditional story, “The Book of Clarence” surprisingly plays much of the story as it is already known. It truly is the life of Clarence that adds everything new to the biblical narrative many are familiar with.   

Even the characterizations of the characters don’t stray too far away from their biblical counterparts. Only some phrases — such as Clarence getting called “stupid” — make up out-of-character moments for the biblical figures, which, at first, was a bit jarring since it suggested that possibly much more significant changes would be made to these iconic characters.   

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Nevertheless, despite not straying much away from the original interpretations and not leaning into the comedic aspects, this film managed to do something entirely different. Rather than tell his interpretation of the life of Jesus, director Jeymes Samuel focuses on the apocryphal Clarence and tends to shift the usual biblical narratives onto a more modern figure.   

In the film, Clarence is depicted as a rationalist, claiming that knowledge is above all else, which starkly contrasts the Apostles and other followers of Jesus, who are shrouded in mystery

Ultimately, though, in trying to replicate the actions of Jesus, Clarence picks up on many of the teachings commonly associated with the Christian Messiah. Although he wasn’t born of a virgin and destined to die on the cross, Clarence stumbles into this Christ-like life and is led down an exciting path filled with biblical parallels.  

While “The Book of Clarence” is filled with biblical imagery and is enhanced with some understanding of the life of Jesus, it is still enjoyable for all audiences. It recontextualizes this story in a way that straddles the line between not giving too much attention to biblical figures while also not turning them into a complete joke.  

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  • K

    KristineFeb 10, 2024 at 9:05 pm

    I love the movie. I saw it twice.

    Reply
  • K

    KAFeb 10, 2024 at 12:44 pm

    Coming from a different perspective, I thought the film was creative and well done

    Reply
  • M

    Myra MeredithFeb 10, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    I love it. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

    Reply