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The Young Messiah | 2016 | PG-13 | - 2.6.2

Seven-year-old Jesus bar-Joseph (Adam Greaves-Neal) and his parents (Sara Lazzaro and Vincent Walsh) return to Nazareth after their long exile to Egypt. From the child's viewpoint, the future Messiah learns more about family secrets and his divine purpose. Also with Sean Bean, Vincent Walsh, Johnathan Bailey, David Bradley, David Burke and Lee Boardman. Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh. Two religious songs are sung in a Middle Eastern language without subtitles. [1:51]

SEX/NUDITY 2 - A woman is grabbed roughly by a man and saved by two rescuers after the man falls on top of her and she tells another woman indirectly that she was raped (the second woman asks, "Did he...?" and the first woman answers, "He did..."); we do not see the rape (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A belly dancer performs wearing a tight jeweled bra that reveals a large amount of cleavage and a short shirt with long tails that bares her upper thighs; she twirls and writhes briefly to some music and sits at the feet of a king, who hugs her and grabs one of her buttocks.
 A woman tells her young son that an angel larger than a man filled her bedroom with light when she was about 14 and told her she would bear a son, even though she had never been with a man; she tells the boy that God is his father. An old woman laughs at soldiers and tells them that she does not have gods from Olympus and woodland nymphs to entertain them.
 A man in a river wears a wide loincloth, revealing his chest and abdomen. On crosses, two dozen crucified men wear only loincloths, revealing their chest and abdomens.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - A flashback depicts Roman soldiers on foot and horseback waving swords and torches, and stabbing victims (presumably infants) who are off-screen as fires burn in the streets and women scream (some of them are dragged off-screen by soldiers); swaddling clothes are left dotted with blood in homes and the infants are gone and we hear that all male infants were killed in Bethlehem by order of the king and a soldier throws a totally swaddled infant over a high wall and we see it hit the ground with a muffled thud.
 A woman gasps and shudders at something off-screen and the camera cuts to a road lined on both sides with crucified men, about 10 on each side (their wrists are bound to their crosses with ropes and their knees are bent slightly as their feet rest on a small wooden ledge; the ribs show on most of the men and we see some streaks of blood on their sides in long shots. Soldiers raise a cross with hauling ropes and the crucified man gasps and shudders as a large dog chained near a cross snaps sharp teeth and barks at everyone walking on the road; a centurion questions a man on the last cross raised until the victim asks the centurion to kill him to stop the torture and in a close-up the centurion drives a knife into the man's stomach below the frame twice and the man gasps loudly for several seconds and dies.
 A boy walks along a path between tall rocks and confronts a band of soldiers on horseback as two men hiding in rock walls with a large hammer and a long-handled hatchet attack the soldiers and they fight; the men slash at each other with swords, pointed staves, a hammer and a hatchet and a man falls to the ground with blood on his arm and hand; horses rear and whiny and a soldier rides off with a stake through his side (no blood shows); the little boy is pushed to the ground, but he crawls to the man with the bloody hand and touches it briefly (the man dies).
 A man grabs a woman in a grassy area near bushes and she screams and hits him; he falls on top of her as two other men run forward with a knife and a hatchet and the first man rolls off the woman and stumbles away, falls to his back and dies (we see blood on his shirt); the woman points a knife at the two other men, who drop their weapons and take her to their camp. A soldier chokes a woman and another chokes a little girl as a third soldier draws a sword and threatens to kill the child; an old woman cries and shivers in fear and the soldiers let everyone go when the old woman gives them information about a boy. A larger boy bullies and knocks down a younger, smaller boy, chokes him, and beats him with fists until a man in a cloak tosses an apple onto the ground nearby; a little girl beats the back of the bully with a wooden club and the bully chases her, trips on the apple, crashing to the ground and dying; another boy says several times that he saw the little boy kill the dead bully and several children chant that they saw the little boy kill the bully until his mother rushes him home, where an angry crowd of adults beat on their door and throw rocks at it and the dead boy's mother cries and wails in the street.
 A king yells at servants and then sees a snake on a table and stabs it, but no blood flows (the snake disappears). A centurion draws his sword to kill a boy, but a crowd begins to shout and soldiers have difficulty holding them back; the centurion looks startled and tells the boy and his parents to leave quickly.
 A little boy sneaks out a window and enters the home of a dead boy, sneaks into the boy's bedroom where we see the dead boy sprawled on a bed and the little boy sits on the bed, holds the corpse's hands, places his hands on the corpse's face and says, "Wake up" until a man enters the room, shouting and the corpse's eyes open and the bully jumps up, knocks the little boy down and kicks him in the side many times and the little boy's father comes to take him home (we see a scrape over his eye and bruised and scratched cheeks). A sick man is seen with red splotches on his face and a bad cough; dying, he walks into a river and shouts blessings to God as a little boy approaches slowly, hugs him and prays; the man lifts the boy to take him underwater and when they re-emerge the man is healed, while the boy is unconscious (he awakens shortly after). A boy kisses a blind rabbi on the cheek, takes the old man's face into his hands, then he walks away and the rabbi stands up, shouting that he can see again. A flashback shows a boy on a beach as he picks up a scraggly dead bird, holds it and releases it as it comes back to life.
 A little boy collapses with a fever he shivers and fidgets under a blanket; we hear brief hissing and then see a strange man in jeweled clothing next to the boy, sneering and whispering insults about his family into the boy's ear until the boy commands him to never touch him when the figure tries to choke him. A man shows a boy a vision of a city burning in hell, with black mounds of burning coals, many small fires, and lots of smoke curling around; then he shouts "Chaos rules!" A little boy speaks with a blind rabbi, who tells him that infants were killed seven years previously in order to eliminate the coming messiah; the boy cries at the thought of the dead infants and a flashback shows flashing swords and a close-up of sandaled feet walking through streets that are sticky with blood.
 A boy sees an evil man and panics and his mother puts him to bed to rest (the boy is the only person who can see the evil man). A small boy leaves a cave dwelling in the middle of a windy night, kneels, prays, and walks away; his parents are distraught the next morning and the boy's older cousin yells angrily that the boy needs answers to questions, so he went to talk to rabbis in Jerusalem.
 At a soldier's camp, we see small fires and men sharpening swords while other men spar with wooden swords in the background. At a temple in Jerusalem two guards at the entrance to the building hold long spears and shields with the Star of David carved into them and the outer court is full of market stalls and shouting customers.
 A centurion tells a king that he just killed a little boy that he tried to find and kill seven years previously; when the centurion is unable to describe the means of execution, the king shouts loudly and hears a snake hissing that no one else can hear, causing him to panic and rip apart his bed, looking for it. Four soldiers ride on horseback to a house and tell a family that they are the last Nazarenes alive as one soldier laughs and shouts, "Let's crucify them!"; two men and a woman offer to sacrifice themselves if the other people are released and an old woman talks the soldiers out of harming anyone by using refreshments. We hear that the king is rumored to have died by choking on the blood of the children he killed. A centurion says that he has killed children and will kill more children in the future; he is called before a king and told to find and kill a male child who survived the massacre of infants from seven years previously. A centurion tells an aide, "The boy must die." A woman tells how an attacker had killed the couple for whom she was a slave and then burned their house down, taking her away against her will. A man says that a woman killing her attacker was killing, but not murder. Two men announce that they have buried an attacker. Several men argue about a dead boy and how he came back to life and the dead-to-living boy's father accuses a much smaller boy of being possessed and tells the boy and his family to leave town. A man asks a dead-to-living boy's father loudly what is wrong with him to be ungrateful for his son's restored health and receives no answer. A traveler tells a family headed for Jerusalem to avoid that area because it is full of violence, thieves, soldiers and rebels. A voiceover of a young boy says, "I know I am going to die" and he goes on to say that he is here just to be alive and experience it and know what it's like, even when it hurts.


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LANGUAGE 2 - 1 mild obscenity (damn), name-calling (charlatan, whore, liar, foolish, witches, lizard eaters, old woman), 19 religious exclamations (e.g. Thank God, Praises to the Lord, Lord of Zion, Bless the Lord, Dear Father, God, God Bless You and Keep You, God Be With You, God Is Your Father, A Miracle, Let Us Pray, Amen, The 23rd Psalm recited, three prayers by a child).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A man accepts wine poured into his golden goblet and tosses the wine onto the head of the servant girl who poured it, a woman gives a man on horseback a wineskin of wine and he drinks from it, and a female soothsayer swirls dark liquids in a beaker and puts it on a table among other beakers.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - The Roman Empire and Jewish religions, Jesus Christ, murder of children and infants, crucifixion, mental illness, visions, miracles, magic, overprotective parents, bullies, persecution of Jews, courage, sacrifice, understanding, love, mercy, respect.

MESSAGE - Jesus bar-Joseph endured a difficult childhood, but found purpose and joy in living.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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