Mary Magdalene: Seeing Jesus Through New Eyes

Author: Damaris Media

Picture: Universal Pictures

Mary Magdalene: Seeing Jesus Through New Eyes

Damaris Media review Mary Magdalene, starring Rooney Mara, a film which offers a unique perspective on one of Jesus' closest followers. 

When we read the stories of Jesus in the four Gospels, it is always with hindsight.

We know what is going to happen: that he is going to die on the cross, rise again, and start a movement which will span continents and centuries. The first people who chose to follow him had no such knowledge.

One of the gifts that art can give us is the ability to see familiar subject matter through fresh eyes. That is what new film Mary Magdalene sets out to achieve, bringing us the story of Jesus’ life and death from the perspective of someone who has often been consigned to the background.

New Way

The film tells the story of Mary (Rooney Mara), a young woman in search of a new way of living. Constricted by the gender inequalities of the day, she has an encounter with the charismatic teacher Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix) - and knows that she can never be the same again.

He seems to offer the answer to her spiritual longings, and unlike the other men in her life, he treats her as a friend and equal.

His other followers, including Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Judas (Tahar Rahim), are convinced that Jesus is on his way to lead a rebellion against the Romans. However, Mary hears something different in his teachings: a radical message of love, mercy and service.

Watch a trailer for the movie here:

Subversive Kingdom

Mary Magdalene is a creative interpretation, not a direct adaptation of the Gospel stories. There are plenty of Bible verses showing that the disciples often misunderstood Jesus, though, and the filmmakers offer a deeply human explanation as to why this might have been.

We are invited to place ourselves in their shoes, and to question how we might let our vision of Jesus be shaped by our own agendas, rather than the other way around.

It seems to be Mary’s place on the fringes of society which helps her to understand that the ‘kingdom of God’ is far more subversive than any armed uprising.

The film shows us what it costs her to follow Jesus: from being disowned by her family and community, to being marginalised and misunderstood for centuries after her death.

Power To Surprise

By imagining her story, Mary Magdalene offers a chance for us to refresh our perspective on Jesus: his priorities, his humanity, and how radical he really was.

Two thousand years later, we still live in a society where women struggle to have their voices heard. And Jesus still has the power to surprise us by calling the last people we expect, into a kingdom that is not of this world.

  • Mary Magdalene is in UK cinemas on 16th March. For free, official resources produced by Damaris Media and Mothers Union, visit:
  • This article comes from Damaris Media, who create free film resources for community groups. Read more at and keep up to date on their latest resources by subscribing to their e-newsletter.

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