Film will offer immersive, virtual reality view of life of Christ

by Gregory Tomlin, |
A scene from the new virtual reality or "VR" film, Jesus VR, set for release on personal VR devices in December 2016. Viewers will be able to look in any direction, including up, giving them the feel of being "in" the story. | AutumnVR

HOLLYWOOD (Christian Examiner) – Producers of a new film are promising viewers an immersive look into the life of Jesus Christ and, this time, the viewer gets to be in every scene – "virtually" speaking.

Variety reports that Autumn Productions has prepared a new virtual reality depiction of the gospel story to be released during the Christmas 2016 season.

Jesus VR – The Story of Christ is unlike any film ever made about Jesus Christ, the producers claim, because it won't be shown on the big screen.

Instead, it will reach users through the use of personal virtual reality (VR) headsets. Normally, the headsets allow a user to insert a cell phone as the screen. The film will be formatted for all of the leading VR devices, including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Play Station VR, the HTC Vive and others.

The film is anything but an amateur production. Enzo Sisti, who worked with Mel Gibson on The Passion of the Christ in 2004, is leading the project as executive producer. Father William Fulco, who also worked on Gibson's depiction of Christ's suffering, is serving as the film's religious adviser – no doubt giving it a very Catholic feel.

Another scene from the new virtual reality depiction of the life of Jesus Christ. Several of the collaborators on Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" are also involved in the production of the VR film. | AutumnVR

According to Variety, photography for Jesus VR was completed in October last year. It was shot "entirely in 360-degree 4K video on location in Matera, Italy, the ancient village that was also the setting for The Passion of the Christ."

In other words, the VR film experience will allow viewers to turn and look in any direction, including up, and walk among Jesus's disciples.

"Producers promise a you-are-there VR experience for the entirety of Jesus' life and death, from his baptism to the Sermon on the Mount, and from the Last Supper to his crucifixion," the magazine reported. It did not say whether or not the film included a resurrection scene like the one Gibson added to his film after principal photography was completed, and after he discussed the importance of the resurrection scene with evangelical viewers.

Gibson is reportedly toying with the idea of another project focusing on the ministry of the resurrected Christ and the growth of the early church.

David Hansen, the film's director and producer, said viewers "truly feel there are there with Jesus and his disciples. This is the most powerful story of all time and virtual reality is the perfect way to tell it."

Sisti agreed.

"I am beyond thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project. It's as exciting a take on the story of Christ as I've ever seen and its production values will absolutely set a new benchmark for virtual reality," Sisti said.

Autumn Productions is the same production company behind the recent films, Elvis and Nixon, starring Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon.