The Gospel of John in Film, Television, and Multimedia
by Glenn Patrick Buxton
St. John in Exile

Year: 1986 Bridgestone Multimedia Group
Directed by: Dan Curtis
Stage Direction: Lory Basham Jones
Produced by: Loren Steadman
Written by: Don Berrigan
Starring: Dean Jones

Dean Jones' one-man portrayal of John, the last living disciple of Jesus, in exile on the island of Patmos is phenomenal. Set during the persecution of thousands of Christians under Emperor Domitianus, John is dictating the Revelation when several Christians (the audience) are permitted to visit him. Though John is 86 years old and confined to live in a cave, he is portrayed as tenaciously spry, strong in spirit and full of humor.

During the course of his exile, John has continued his evangelizing the Roman guards by conspicuously leaving copies of the gospels to be confiscated. He has also found humor in adopting several cave rats as "pets" and appropriately naming them after the guards and rulers - Annas and Caiaphas, Herod and Pontius Pilate. He has also acquired a taste for locusts and honey as was highly recommended by John the Baptist.

The film parallels the Gospel of John through the personal narratives of John to his visitors from his meeting John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus and His crucifixion and resurrection. Jones provides a more personal and deeply emotional account of the thoughts and feelings of John as a friend of Jesus particularly during the crucifixion. The personal narratives provide details and insight. He vividly describes the disciples walking the streets of Kidron before Jesus' crucifixion and how the streets were filled with the blood of Passover lambs.

The film also gives an idea about the fear that the disciples may have felt as Jesus was taken from them as John and Peter run and hide fearing their own capture.

I first saw St. John in Exile when it was presented live at Church on the Way (Van Nuys, California) and was deeply moved during the performance. I had only seen Dean Jones in his light-hearted comedic roles in many Disney movies (Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, That Darn Cat, and The Love Bug) and was quite surprised by his very dramatic portrayal on the stage. Although it has been many years since that live performance, I still remember that performance and was anxious to see the video. St. John in Exile was filmed during a live presentation at Church on the Way.

Reviewed by Joy Corbly-Buxton, 1999

I have considered doing a scene-by-scene review of this work, but because of my high regard for this piece of art, I leave it up to you to watch, enjoy, and marvel at this performance in its entirety. Dean Jones has given the Character of the Beloved Disciple form and function in a way that can only be fully appreciated by viewing each and every subtlety and nuance of the performance. If I were to give a recommendation to a teacher or professor in regard to this video taped performance it would be this. Set enough time aside in class to view the entire performance, then and only then will your students fully appreciate it as art. Something that I think must also be said for the Gospel of John, that so many times the Gospel message of John is so unceremoniously dissected that the Christian message being taught is rendered meaningless. View St. John in Exile and read the Gospel of John as entire works of art inspired by the Holy Spirit, then, and only then, will you appreciate the message they contain.

Glenn Patrick Buxton, 1999

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