Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week. The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer, Dennis King, Keith Mitchell, Leif Erickson, Peter Firth, David Bowie, Lowell Gilmore and Hurd Hatfield may be viewed here, here, here, here here , here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here , here , here , here and here.
A miniseries portrayal of Pilate by actor Vincent Regan, an Irish Catholic turned agnostic but who is a self-proclaimed “big fan” of both the Pope and Christ, in A.D. The Bible Continues, broadcast in 2016. By the very nature of a miniseries Regan is given an opportunity for a fuller portrayal of Pilate by virtue of far more time on screen than the few minutes most actors portraying Pilate are allotted in a feature film. I wish better use had been made of the time.
Regan’s Pilate projects raw power but is also a tired man who detests everything about the province he has been assigned to govern. So far, so familiar. It is where Regan’s Pilate deviates from the usual portrayal of Pilate that false notes occur.
This Pilate can be casually cruel, telling his wife that the Christ who so concerned her in a dream is now a pile of rotting meat. He thinks in cliches, at one point noting that between being firm and fair, being firm tends to pay the bigger dividend in his experience.
He is something of a monster, garroting the troops who guarded the tomb of Christ and literally stabbing in the back the soldier who brought the news of what had happened at the tomb to him. Ostensibly this is done to stop rumors of Christ rising from the dead, but I can think of no method more likely to ensure that troops would be gossiping about this for months on end. Assuming that the men were Roman citizens Pilate would have had to afford them a trial and could not have had them summarily executed. Of course there is nothing in the Gospels that indicates that Pilate did this, and the whole grisly sequence came across as completely gratuitous.
I found this an unconvincing portrayal that diverges starkly from the little that we know about Pilate from the Gospels. A wasted opportunity.