This touching and heartfelt film depicts the legend passed down through the ages about the Roman centurion who is responsible for the death of Christ by striking him in the side with a spear. Though he is unnamed in the gospels, The Christ Slayer follows the Catholic tradition, which has sainted him, and called him Longinus (Carl Weyant). Weyant’s impressive performance tragically relays the story that is told throughout history with varying alterations, and in one version Longinus is thought to be blind. Hence this movie depicts him as completely blind, wearing a band of cloth around his eyes throughout.
He is a sympathetic character who is bullied by his peers and forced to pierce Christ with the spear that kills him; thus, earning the name Christ Slayer, for which people both taunt him and revere him. However, upon this event, Longinus enters a spiritual and moral crisis, and though he falls in love soon after this incident, he is determined to travel to his hometown where he will end his life as he becomes increasingly convinced that he has killed the actual son of God. His aide and friend Albus is beautifully played by Josh Perry, an actor with Down’s syndrome. The casting here and the chemistry between these partners is powerful, as Albus is fiercely loyal to Longinus.
The interesting twist, when Jesus reveals himself at the end of a long journey with Longinus, has a life-altering experience for the latter, and many lessons ensue as we watch this character transform from a very dark place into freedom. This is a profound way to deliver a salvation message, for we too travel with Longinus as he struggles with a deep sense of anger, guilt, regret, and shame, and is confronted with forgiveness, unconditional love, transformation, and healing.
Longinus drinks wine throughout most of the film, often becoming intoxicated and acting out angrily. There is also some violence by fighting with weapons, and the killing of Christ takes place mostly off-screen. As a result, we award The Christ Slayer the Dove-Approved Seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
Using an ancient legend that is shrouded in some truth to express the profound love and forgiveness of God is a creative and captivating way to deliver an evangelical message that leads to salvation.