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A Christ of a Different Color

1 Dec, 2006 By: Billy Gil

The recently christened Fox Faith, a faith-based label of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, purports to be breaking new ground Jan. 9 (prebook Dec. 13) when it releases Color of the Cross (DVD $26.98), a film depicting Jesus Christ as a black man.

Much like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Color of the Cross depicts the final days of Jesus Christ, but it's the first film to feature a black actor playing a black Jesus, according to Fox.

“Our movie is not about dividing Christians, but broadening their perspective,” said director-writer-actor Jean-Claude LaMarre. “For centuries, Leonardo da Vinci's portrayal of Jesus has been widely accepted. We are offering an alternative image. There's room for all.”

The film stars LaMarre as Jesus in his last 48 hours and suggests that race may have been a factor in the crucifixion. It explores such areas of Christian mythology as Jesus's disciples and the mindset of the Romans occupying Judea.

“To watch a black man on screen being referred to as ‘rabbi,' or to see him partaking in a Seder meal and observing Passover, really blurs the lines that divide blacks and Jews in this country,” LaMarre said. “We are part of the same history.”

A spokeswoman from Fox said there's been relatively little controversy around the film since its Oct. 27 theatrical release. In comparison, The Passion of the Christ saw groups calling the film anti-Semitic, as well as a protest from the New Black Panther Party, which said Jesus was black and that the film perpetuated a myth.

Color of the Cross had a limited run in 29 theaters, making $85,800 million at the box office, and wasn't nearly as high profile a release as the $370.8 million box office juggernaut The Passion of the Christ.

The film also stars Debbi Morgan (“Coach Carter”) as Mary and former MTV VJ Ananda Lewis.

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