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Film / The Young Messiah

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The Young Messiah is a 2016 Biblical drama about Jesus as a young boy. It is based on the Anne Rice novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. It begins with Jesus (Adam Greaves-Neal) and his family in Egypt, having fled there after Jesus was born, to escape Herod (Jonathan Bailey)'s slaughter of all the male infants in Judea. When Jesus is seven years old, they travel back to Mary and Joseph's home town of Nazareth and try to resume their old life, but they must deal with the challenges of raising a child who has supernatural powers and has a special destiny that not even he is fully aware of yet. The film also stars Sean Bean as a Roman soldier named Severus, who is tasked by Herod's son with finding and killing the child they missed seven years ago.

Tropes in the film include:

  • Adaptation Expansion: There is hardly any information in the Bible about Jesus' boyhood, but a few incidents from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas are used in a modified way that harmonizes more closely with the Biblical Gospel accounts.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: There is a little of this at the beginning of the film, where some of the other Jewish children (and some of the adults) are fearful of Jesus because it's rumored that he has supernatural powers.
  • All-Loving Hero: Young Jesus cares deeply about everyone he meets, and sometimes cures illnesses, even though his parents discourage it, because it tends to arouse fear and suspicion.
  • Asshole Victim: Eleazer, an older Jewish boy, bullies Jesus, and is killed by Satan in order to frame Jesus. Jesus brings him back to life later.
  • Bible Times: Takes place in 1st century Egypt and Palestine.
  • The Chosen One: Mary and Joseph know Jesus is the son of God, but they're not sure exactly what his destiny is. Young Jesus is trying to figure out what God's will for him is, too.
  • Canon Foreigner: Severus, the officer sent to kill Jesus, is the main one.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jesus is given a toy wooden camel, which Severus later finds and deduces that Jesus is in the area.
  • Cool Old Lady: Sarah, a villager from Nazareth, single-handedly fends off a squad of Roman soldiers intent on punishing a few innocent Jews, by giving them refreshments.
  • Den of Iniquity: Herod's throne room is filled with dancing girls, witches, and lizard eaters.
  • Foreshadowing: Several, for events that don't happen in this film, but during the life of the adult Jesus.
    • The Crucifixion is foreshadowed when Mary, Joseph and Jesus pass by some criminals being crucified by the Romans.
    • Jesus goes under the water in the Jordan River, foreshadowing his baptism.
    • Jesus visits the temple marketplace and sets a dove free, foreshadowing his cleansing of the temple.
    • Satan showing Jesus Jerusalem on top of a hill foreshadows the temptation.
  • Frame-Up: Satan kills a boy who bullied Jesus by throwing an apple into the road so the bully trips on it and dies, and subsequently frames Jesus.
  • The Heavy: Severus is the main antagonistic force in the story, though he works for Herod.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Severus is unable to bring himself to kill young Jesus when he gets the chance.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Jesus' uncle Cleopas coughs a lot, and is getting worse. Subverted; he is eventually healed by Jesus.
  • La RĂ©sistance: The Zealots fight with the Roman soldiers.
  • Large Ham: Jesus' uncle Cleopas enjoys preaching and praising God very loudly.
  • Make an Example of Them: The Romans routinely crucify rebellious Jews by the side of the road, for everyone to see, and it's implied that they occasionally punish completely innocent people just to keep everyone else submissive.
  • Mercy Kill: Severus opts to stab the man who gives Jesus a toy camel rather than leave him to suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Herod's slaughter of the innocents is shown in flashback, with Severus taking part in it.
  • Number Two: Weer is Severus' second-in-command.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The man who gives Jesus a toy camel goes to Herod with information about Jesus, hoping to get a reward. Herod has him crucified instead, but it's less because the man had outlived his usefulness, and more because Herod is just psychotic.
  • Satan: This time around, he's a blond, bearded man wearing a Black Cloak who torments Jesus at various points in the story, such as the beginning of the film when the bully is killed, and when Jesus is ill.
  • Saved by Canon: Even though young Jesus is being hunted down by a Roman soldier intent on killing him, anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Gospel story knows he will live to adulthood.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Severus is clearly haunted by his participation in the slaughter of all the male Jewish babies seven years ago.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After Severus lies and reports that he has killed young Jesus, Herod, who was rather unhinged to begin with, starts ranting and having hallucinations of snakes in his bed. An unusual example, in that Herod has a breakdown even though, as far as he knows, his plan has succeeded.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: A rabbi tests Jesus' knowledge of the Torah with a series of trick questions, and Jesus easily sees through them all, and even offers the rabbi a few insights of his own.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Satan kills a young boy by rolling an apple into the street, and subsequently frames Jesus for it.
    • Severus has one of his men grab a young girl by her throat to force villagers to give up Jesus's name. He also participated in the slaughter of the Jewish babies in Bethlehem seven years ago.