jesus vr movie

I may be a secular heathen these days, but I still vividly recall walking the Stations of the Cross as a young Catholic, reliving the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth through grim art and the words of my priest. It was equal parts captivating and horrifying and it sticks with me, years after I succumbed to the devil and started living a life of sin and blasphemy and writing about movies for a living.

Of course, other churches have taken this a step further, with members attending elaborate Passion Plays to celebrate Easter. Others have taken it further yet – are you familiar with The Holy Land Experience, located a short drive from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida? The suffering of Jesus Christ, as the box office returns of The Passion of the Christ attest, is a big business! And like many other businesses, this one is dipping its toe into the latest technology on the horizon. Are you ready for a virtual reality movie about the life of Jesus? Because one is on the way.

That may sound like a slightly blasphemous joke from a comedy poking fun at organized religion, but Jesus VR – The Story of Christ is a real movie being made by real people (including director David Hansen) and 40 minutes of it are set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival. The film even boasts two Passion of the Christ veterans in producer Enzo Sisti and religious advisor Father William Fulco. Here’s how Deadline describes the project:

Jesus VR – The Story of Christ goes 2,000 years back in time to witness the story of Jesus Christ from birth to resurrection. The film, whose producers promise a “you-are-there experience,” includes such events as Jesus’ baptism, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper and the crucifixion.

This Italian production was shot with 4K 360° cameras, which means that once you’ve strapped into your Oculus Rift or similar VR headset, you will be fully immersed in each scene and can look in any direction as the action occurs all around you. I’ve yet to experience any VR movies personally, but I’ve tried my hand at VR gaming and have been blown away. Virtual reality isn’t going to replace traditional movies and games anytime soon, but it’s an exciting and wild new medium that offers all kinds of new possibilities.

And in this case, it will allow the faithful to bear witness to events from the Bible. Feel free to insert your own snarky joke here, if you wish. If we’re going to be honest, I completely understand the appeal of a movie like this and can totally see this thing successfully touring the religious communities of the world, with parishioners reserving tickets to special screenings in their local church. Quite frankly, this sounds like a license to print money (as long as the execution is up to snuff).

Plus, if Jesus VR – The Story of Christ (which really, really needs a less abrasive title) is successful and helps introduce VR to a wider audience, we’re one step closer to this technology being used in schools and museums and that’s something I can really get behind. We’ll hear more in September, when the first footage plays in Venice.

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