St. John in Exile
Reviewed by: Glenn and Joy Buxton
Teen to Adult
Filmed Stage Production
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
Was Jesus Christ only a legend? Answer
If Jesus is God, how could he die? If Jesus died on the cross, then how can he be alive today? Answer
Was Jesus Christ God, manifest in human form? Answer
Is Jesus Christ really God? Answer
If Jesus was the Son of God, why did He call Himself the Son of Man? Answer
Trinity—How can one God be three persons? Answer
Character—Is Christ’s character consistent with his high claims? Answer
Has science disproved the miracles associated with Jesus Christ? Answer
Could Christ have sinned? Answer
Archaeology—Have any burial sites been found for the people involved in Christ’s life and death? Answer
How do we know the Bible is true? Answer
How can the Bible be infallible if it was written by fallible humans? Answer
“The Jesus Seminar”—Are their criticisms of the gospels valid? Answer
“The Jesus Seminar”—Who do they really speak for? Answer
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.
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.
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.