Monday, February 24, 2014

Parable, 50 Years Later

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining a group of people to watch the movie, "Parable," which was filmed at our local Circus World Museum in the early 1960s. Produced for the Protestant Council of the City of New York, “Parable” uses the circus as metaphor to tell the Lenten story.  The 22-minute art film has a pantomime quality to it, with no dialogue or subtitles. The action is accompanied by a circus-inspired musical track. Now 50 years old, “Parable” was considered controversial in its day due to the way in which Jesus was represented in the film.  Although he was intended to be portrayed as a white-face, skull-capped mime, those who took issue with the film thought Jesus was being depicted as a circus clown. It is reported that “Parable” provided the inspiration for Jesus’ portrayal as a clown in “Godspell” less than a decade later. “Parable” received such initial criticism that it almost didn’t get shown at the 1964 World’s Fair. However, the show did go on. The film became one of the fair’s most popular attractions.  It later went on to receive the 1966 Religious Film Award of the National Catholic Theatre Conference, as well as honors at the 1966 Cannes, Venice and Edinburgh film festivals.  In 2012, “Parable” was inducted into the National Film Registry of The Library of Congress because of its history-making role in helping shape American culture. The film will be shown in Circus World's theater in Baraboo as part of a tour of historic downtown Baraboo churches on Sunday afternoon, April 6.  Showings will take place at 1:00 p.m. and 4:15 p.m..  It will be interesting to hear how people view the film some five decades after it made its mark.

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