Last Days in the Desert

Hey everybody, if you saw us on tour this spring, you probably saw that our tour was sponsored by a film by Rodrigo Garcia called ‘Last Days in the Desert.’  The film stars Ewan McGregor, who plays both Yeshua (Jesus) and the Demon (the devil) in the film.  The film is premiering tomorrow (Friday May 13), but today there is actually a special premier event in about 20 cities with an intro that includes Lisa, Science Mike and I introducing the film and Gungor playing a live acoustic version of Hurricane, (a song from our latest album ‘One Wild Life: Spirit’).  There are still tickets in some of the cities if you’d like to go.  Go to lastdaysinthedesert.com for more info. 

We were really honored to be part of the promotion of this film.  As many of you know, Jesus movies can be super lame.  But this film is a lot more nuanced and interesting than most Jesus films out there. It’s not religious propaganda. It’s art. It’s an imagined story about Jesus. I actually had the chance to sit down for a bit with Rodrigo Garcia and Ewan McGregor and ask a few questions about the film. You’ll be able to hear that conversation on the upcoming season of The Liturgists Podcast, but until then, I have a few thoughts about the film.  

I must say, at first, I was a little put off by another white, blue-eyed Jesus… Jesus was not a white, blue-eyed dude, after all. But as far as white, blue-eyed dudes go, I mean, come on, it’s Ewan McGregor… The guy’s a badass.  So, I was able to get past that detail and just get into the story.  To be honest, this film probably isn’t for everybody. If you’re the kind of person who would get offended at a person telling a fictional extra-biblical story, maybe just don’t stress yourself out and stay away from it. But I don’t think you should get offended at such a thing. Good stories are powerful, whether they are literally true or not.  Jesus obviously said and did things that were not in the Bible. Why not imagine what they were?  He was a man who used fictional stories as his primary way of teaching. I can’t imagine he’d be offended at this movie, and I don’t think you should be either. 

The movie is also not in a hurry.  It’s more of a meditative and subtle journey through the story.  But if you have the patience, there’s a lot of beauty to be found within.  Not only is the score and the cinematography beautiful, but for me, imagining Jesus interacting with normal people in normal conversations was enjoyable and at moments even profound. I loved how Ewan portrayed Jesus as a great listener and a man of empathy. A man with angst but also a profound determination and love.  I loved when he belly laughed with one of the characters who crouches down and lets off a huge fart.  I loved the subtlety of the Demon, and how he wasn’t a simple caricature of evil, but actually an interesting character in his own right.  And did I mention the music?  Man, I loved the music. 

Anyway, if you’re into the idea of seeing some really talented filmmakers imagine a story about Jesus in the desert where Ewan plays Jesus and the Devil, you should go check the film out at one of these premiers.  Would love to hear what you think of it.  Cheers everybody!