The Body (2001 film)

The Body is a 2001 mystery thriller drama film written and directed by Jonas McCord. Based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Richard Sapir, it stars Antonio Banderas, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Lillian Lux, John Wood, and Derek Jacobi. It is a joint American-Israeli-German co-production, shot on-location in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The Body
DVD cover
Directed byJonas McCord
Produced byRudy Cohen
Written byJonas McCord
Based onThe Body
by Richard Sapir
StarringAntonio Banderas
Olivia Williams
Jason Flemyng
John Shrapnel
Lillian Lux
John Wood
Derek Jacobi
Music bySerge Colbert
CinematographyVilmos Zsigmond
Edited byAlain Jakubowicz
Lesley Walker
Avalanche Films
Helkon Media AG
MDP Worldwide
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
April 20, 2001
Running time
109 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Box office$36,845

The plot follows Father Matt Gutierrez (Banderas), a Jesuit priest sent by the Vatican to investigate an archaeologic finding by Dr. Sharon Golban (Williams) which is suspected to be the remains of the body of Jesus Christ. This finding puts Gutierrez's faith and his doubts in constant confrontation with Golban's scientific views, and stirs political tensions between Palestine and Israel, while also shaking the foundations of Christianity itself.

The film was released on April 20, 2001 by TriStar Pictures and received mixed critical reviews.[1][2]

Plot summaryEdit

Dr. Sharon Golban finds an ancient skeleton in Jerusalem in a rich man's tomb. Coloration of the wrist and ankle bones indicates the cause of death was crucifixion. Several artifacts, including a gold coin bearing the marks of Pontius Pilate and a jar dating to 32 AD, date the tomb to the year Christ died. Faint markings on the skull consistent with thorns, the absence of broken leg bones, occupational markers suggesting the deceased was a carpenter, and a nick on the ribs from a pointed object lead authorities to suspect that these could be the bones of Christ. The different reactions of politicians, clerics, religious extremists—some prepared to use terror to gain their ends—to the religious, cultural and political implications of the find, make life difficult and dangerous for the investigators as they seek to unearth the truth.

Father Matt Gutierrez is assigned by the Vatican to investigate the case and to protect the Christian faith. He sets out to prove that the bones are not those of Jesus, but as there is more and more evidence to support the claim, his faith begins to waver. Troubled by the case, he turns to Father Lavelle who commits suicide because he cannot reconcile the scientific evidence with his faith. This event causes Father Gutierrez to turn from his faith, but he comes back to it in the end. He also comes to understand that it is the power of the Catholic Church that he is protecting and not the faith, and decides to resign from his priesthood.

In the end it is revealed that the body is in fact not Christ's body but one of his followers who died in a similar way.



The film deals mainly with two subjects:

Depiction of archaeologyEdit

Dr. Golban is much more meticulous in her work than many other film archaeologists are. She examines the bones found without removing them from the site, and is very careful not to compromise the remains or any other artifacts found. The small things at the site are not overlooked and looting is one of the problems she faces, which are both aspects of real archaeology[3] (See also: small finds). For instance, she uses several methods for dating the tomb such as thermoluminescence dating and relative dating techniques.

Thermoluminesence datingEdit

The clay jar that is found inside the tomb was brought to a lab for two kinds of testing: dating and composition of contents. Dr. Golban wanted to determine the age (and therefore date the tomb) and figure out what the jar was used for. Thermoluminescence dating is commonly used on ancient pottery and tools. This technique is used to determine the time passed since an object was fired (such as pottery). It has been found to be very accurate, to within ±1 to 10%.[4] It works by thermally stimulating the object in question, thereby releasing the energy accumulated in the object during its preliminary excitation.[5] In other words, when an object is fired, electrons are released within the object itself and its 'clock' is set to "0". Thermoluminescence releases trapped electrons and uses the amount of energy released to determine the time since that initial firing (time '0').

To determine how the jar was used and what it contained, the lab performed mass spectrometry tests on it. Mass spectrometry is typically the process used to identify unknown substances found on/in archaeological sites. A sample of the contents of the jar is loaded into the mass spectrometry machine where it is then bombarded by electrons causing it to become ionized. This process causes molecules from the sample to break off in charged fragments. The ions are then deflected by an electric or magnetic field which are then picked up by an electron multiplayer. A spectra results from the abundance of detected ions as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. The fragments are then identified through comparison to known molecular weights and fragmentation patterns.[6] The contents of the jar were found to be an anointing oil. The jar was an anointing jar, which was one aspect of Jewish burial rituals.

Shroud of TurinEdit

Briefly in the film Father Matt Gutierrez and archaeologist Dr. Sharon Golban talk about the famous Shroud of Turin. The 4.1 m × 1.1 m linen cloth is well known for its depiction of an image of a man that looks very similar to the description of Jesus Christ. The man on the shroud suffered from physical injuries very similar to those that someone would bear after being crucified, consistent with the Biblical description of Christ's crucifixion. Father Gutierrez mentions the Shroud of Turin when there is a question over the height of the body that is found in the tomb. He says the bones in the tomb can't possibly be those of Jesus Christ because the height of the skeleton found does not fit with the height of the man believed to be Christ portrayed on the Shroud of Turin.

The bones in the tomb belong to a person who would stand at a height of approximately 5'5" (165,10 cm), whereas the body that is believed to be Christ's on the shroud is of a man of 5'11½" (181,61 cm) to 6'2" (187,96 cm); while the Bible does reference Jesus as being tall, during the times of Christ such a height would indeed have been remarkable. Dr. Golban responds with some animosity towards his comment because the Shroud of Turin has been proven through scientific testing to be a hoax and not the image of Jesus Christ but instead a victim of Roman crucifixion.[7] The Shroud of Turin is believed to be an artist's representation of Jesus by means of using an impression technique on the linen.[8]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ The Body (2001), retrieved 2019-07-31
  2. ^ The Body, retrieved 2019-07-31
  3. ^
  4. ^ Pagonis, Vasilis, Reuven Chen, and George Kitis. "On The Intrinsic Accuracy And Precision Of Luminescence Dating Techniques For Fired Ceramics." Journal of Archaeological Science 38.7 (2011): 1591-1602. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.
  5. ^ N. Sorokina, et al. "Thermoluminescent Dating Of Archaeological Pottery." Inorganic Materials 47.5 (2011): 544-548. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.
  6. ^ Carey, Francis. Organic Chemistry. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. 2000
  7. ^ Meacham, William. 1983 The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology. CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY 24. Web. Jan 21, 2015.
  8. ^ Mueller, Marvin. 1983 The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology. CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY 24. Web. Jan 21, 2015.