Many are calling “Color of the Cross” controversial, but it’s really not. It doesn’t make an argument at all; it simply states a possibility — that Christ was a man of color — which it dramatizes earnestly within the narrow confines of its $2.5 million budget and the limited resources of its production crew.
Written, directed and starring Jean-Claude LaMarre as Christ, the movie pretty much follows the same narrative ground as Mel Gibson’s 10-times-more-expensive “The Passion of the Christ,” that is, the last two days in Christ’s life. Of course, there are differences. This feels like a cramped, TV-style retelling, with small groups of people, no special effects, in some ways almost cheesy. But the real differences are thematic: Gibson’s film was really about the physical ordeal of that form of death as a vessel for the sacrifice’s soul passage onward. This Christ bleeds profusely, but the dramatic impact from the truncating of the story is to make the issue of color more paramount. The image cannot be forgotten, and it matches, in its way, with troubled recollections of lynching photos all of us have seen.