Judge Dylan Charles is currently in search of the Lost Tomb of Geraldo Rivera.
Has the 2,000 year-old mystery finally been solved?
Simcha Jacobovici and I have done battle once before over his documentary The Exodus Decoded. That was a long time ago when I was but a young pup, new to the DVD review business. And now I am a battle hardened veteran, having done this for a total of six months.
Last time he tried to use scientific evidence to prove that the ten biblical plagues in Exodus actually took place. Using my limited vocabulary and a typing speed of four words per minute, I managed to soundly trounce Jacobovici, saying his documentary was biased, but he had some intriguing ideas that he delivered well. I am sure that he wept when he read my savagery.
But now it's a whole new ballgame, a shiny new day, a new battlefield.
Let's rock and roll.
Facts of the Case
Jacobovici has uncovered evidence that the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth (yes, THAT Jesus) was uncovered by a construction crew in the 1980's in Jerusalem. He consults statisticians, theologians, clergy members, rabbis, archeologists and even James Cameron in his quest to authenticate that this could really be the tomb that housed the last remains of what Christians consider the Messiah.
I first heard about this documentary when it originally aired this past winter. I watched it, commercials and all, and was fairly intrigued by what it showed. The DVD version is a director's cut, with more information, although I was not able to notice the changes myself.
Jacobovici is dealing with a fairly explosive issue here and he handles it with great care. He's restrained and displays the evidence so that folks who aren't familiar with ancient Judaic burial practices can follow along at home. And with a topic of this magnitude, he has to be careful.
He uses an impressive array of specialists and scholars to help prove that Jesus actually was buried in this spot. And not just Jesus, but members of his family. Some of his more controversial ideas, like that they found the bone box (or ossuary) of Jesus' son, are bound to inspire a bit of upsettedness. Jacobovici never says, we have most definitely found Jesus, his wife, and his son. But he does say, there's a pretty good chance we found it. That's there's a good chance that this woman might be the husband of this man. And that really makes all the difference in the world in an unbiased attempt to present information.
However, Jacobovici doesn't appear (to my eye anyway) to be presenting much in the way of the counter viewpoint. Which is fine, to a point, as The Lost Tomb of Jesus is more about presenting Jacobovici's side of the argument, rather than presenting every aspect of that argument. But Jacobovici can be passionate to a fault and his documentaries (the ones I've seen anyway) tend to doggedly pursue one viewpoint.
But he does it so well is the thing. He presents his arguments in a clear and logical manner. Jacobovici is a great one for firing up the imagination, for presenting possibilities and I applaud him for that.
But when you watch a Jacobovici documentary, just remember you're not getting the full picture. Poke around after you watch it and see what you find.
The disc is beautiful thing, The Lost Tomb of Jesus is presented in glorious widescreen. Clean all the way down the line.
The extras are a mixed bag though. The "epilogue" is nothing of the sort. It adds no new information to the documentary and just lets James Cameron (who produced it all) a chance to appear on camera. The featurette on the re-enactments is interesting and shows the care that went into an aspect of the documentary that others might have let fall by the wayside. Their Jesus, for instance, is the best Jesus I've come across by golly.
The interviews can be interesting at times. I really would have liked a play all button for them instead of having to click on each several minute section. The interview with Jacobovici show a lot about his thought processes, he seems to consider himself more as a reporter than as someone making an argument or trying to prove it. Which, well, explains a lot.
There are extended interviews with the experts, which are interesting and fill in some gaps. The James Cameron interviews, well, they don't add a whole lot of new information.
Jacobovici seems like a man who is driven by whatever passion has a hold of him. This leads to a fairly one-sided portrayal, that is, what Jacobovici has found. He is interesting and presents fascinating ideas and then he leaves it at that. He doesn't include the debate or the argument, and if you want that, you're going to have to do your own legwork. Ted Koppel did a panel with Jacobovici and experts called "The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look" (which I haven't seen) and that might be a good place to start. In other words, it's worth watching, but don't get excited just yet.
The Lost Tomb of Jesus is innocent, but once again Mr. Jacobovici, I've got my eye on you.
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