A film that practically bleeds misery and melancholy in every single frame, The Sin of Jesus is as innately and unkindly unchristian as films come that feature Jesus Christ in a central role. Featuring a weak and sullen yet arrogant and heretical Jesus that pimps out his angels and is so pathetically morbidly depressed that he finds it virtually impossible to look a beautiful big-eyed woman in the face who he eventually begs from forgiveness from, Frank’s arguable cinematic magnum opus also features what is probably the most stereotypically Jewish depiction of Jesus in cinema history. Hardly the blond, handsome, and heroic Aryan Christ of European history or a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic, the eponymous progeny of god in Frank’s film does not heal the blind but is himself blind to humanity and human suffering, hence his pathetic pleading for forgiveness to a uniquely unsophisticated woman that finds herself unwittingly killing an angel due to her desperate horniness. Of course, in its condemnation of a deity that causes human suffering, the film is almost cliché in its Jewishness to the point where it reveals that both auteur Frank and source writer Babel have no true understanding of Christianity or Jesus Christ, at least in the emotional sense. Indeed, even the goofy vampiric Christ portrayed by Teutonic queer avant-garde auteur Michael Brynntrup in his Super-8 epic Jesus - Der Film (1986) is holier than the emotionally comatose loser featured in Frank's film.
Certainly, female lead Julie Bovasso and cinematographer German cinematographer Gert Berliner—a man best known for his photography—deserve a lot of credit for the film's aesthetic majesty, as the actress' performance and the cinematography are certainly the most memorable aspects of the film. Of course, unlike most of Frank’s films, the Jesus parable actually has an actual storyline and talented actors as opposed to posturing beatniks and schizophrenic Hebrews doing nothing. Although just an assumption, I am pretty sure that Frank’s post-holocaust hatred and pathos certainly inspired his uniquely unkindly depiction of Jesus. Naturally, I can see how the film might be embarrassing for the director on retrospect, as it reveals an outstanding arrogance and megalomania in its renouncing of god, but then again that is one of the things that makes it so powerful. Indeed, the film certainly features the sort of Christ-hating that inspired Jews like Babel to become Bolsheviks. In terms of other covertly kosher quasi-metaphysical movies where the lead character arrogantly turns their back on god in the end, Hebraic auteur Michael Tolkin's debut feature The Rapture (1991) starring half-Hebrews Mimi Rogers and David Duchovny is in many ways quite thematically similar to The Sin of Jesus and the two films certainly make for a great double feature.
After watching Frank's film and noticing its seething rage directed towards god, I could not help but be reminded of Judaic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's wise and rather un-Jewish words, “It isn't sensible to be furious even at Hitler; how much less so at God.” Of course, the somewhat bizarre thing about The Sin of Jesus is that Frank reveals rage towards a religious figure that he, as a proud atheistic Jew, does not even actually believe in, but then again one could argue that the film is actually an attempt to confront the seeming absurdity of poor, ignorant, and downtrodden peasants being the most likely to have faith in Jesus of Nazareth when they have such horrible, miserable, and accursed lives. In that sense, the film proves to be provocative, if not misguided, but I suspect that it is just really one of the seemingly infinite examples of a Jew rejecting that Jesus was not the long awaited Messiah of the Messianic prophecies. As to how someone that is so poor and unlucky could be religious, Wittgenstein offered an insight when he wrote, “People are religious to the extent that they believe themselves to be not so much imperfect as ill. Any man who is half-way decent will think himself extremely imperfect, but a religious man thinks himself wretched.” After all, it takes a certain degree of profound arrogance to, not unlike Frank, condemn a religious figure, especially a creator god, even if you do not believe in said religious figure, but I guess it might be a little different with Jesus, who makes Jews feel culpable for deicide, hence the classic antisemitic slur ‘Christ-killer.’ Additionally, I would not be surprised if Jews like Frank blame Jesus for pogroms and even the holocaust, not to mention the stereotype of a Hebrew complaining “Where was God?” in relation to said holocaust (in that sense, one could argue that Frank's film is a sort of cryptic-holocaust flick where a Christian acts as a stand-in for a Jew in the denouncing of god). While Hollywood movies and mainstream TV shows never miss an opportunity to mock Christ, The Sin of Jesus seems to be one of the few cinematic examples where a Jew ‘attempts’ to make some sense of the supposed ‘false messiah,’ so naturally it should be no surprise that the film wallows in misery, melancholy, and tragic misfortune, as if it is the expression of the Jewish collective unconscious. Either way, Frank's film surely had the opposite result on me as the director intended, as it gave me the urge to learn more about the real Jesus Christ, who was surely not anything like the eponymous melancholy wimp of The Sin of Jesus.