Who is William Kurelek and why are Christians clamouring for his paintings? Christians everywhere are finding out how art can power their faith in a way they never thought possible Dear fellow Christian, Twenty years ago a film was released that made ripples all the way to the Vatican. It was something no one had ever seen before. It caused a sensation across North America. It was seen at film festivals, on TV, in church halls. The buzz was electrifying. Ever since then, Christians have been looking for it everywhere. But only a few hundred copies were ever made. Naturally, they were snapped up quickly…. A Christian classic…back by popular demand Now you have the chance to see it for yourself. Because that film is now being released as a DVD. So what’s all the clamour about? Over twenty years ago, Philip Earnshaw, a young filmmaker, heard the extraordinary story of well-known Canadian painter named William Kurelek. Kurelek had been severely depressed for many years before he became a Christian. After his conversion, he vowed he would dedicate the rest of his paintings to God — in thanks for delivering him from his life of suffering. Kurelek wanted to paint the life of Christ as it had been revealed in the New Testament. “I asked myself,” he said, “has anyone ever illustrated a Gospel as a history of actual events? And has anyone ever done a Gospel sentence by sentence?” Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to accomplish that feat. But he spent the next three years painting the whole story of the Passion of Christ from the Gospel According to St. Matthew because it was the most comprehensive account of Jesus’s life. And so, in 160 paintings, from the Last Supper to the Resurrection, the last days of Jesus came alive. "No one in the history of painting … ever essayed a project of such epic proportions." - Gerald T.Campbell, Cinema Canada A film like no other What Kurelek had accomplished was staggering. You’d have to go back to the Renaissance, a time of geniuses like Michelangelo, to find an equivalent. Even then, no one had had the ambition to paint the entire story of the Passion of Christ in such a huge number of paintings. Not only that, nobody was painting religious paintings back in the 1960s. Abstract art was all the rage. All the “important” art critics said painting human beings was old-fashioned. Kurelek didn’t listen to any of that. He didn’t care. He knew what he was doing was important and right. He had no doubt his work was divinely commissioned. But there’s more. Kurelek had actually envisaged turning these 160 paintings into a film. He had already anticipated that by painting each work as if it was part of a sequence in a film. Four years after he died, along came Phil Earnshaw. Inspired by Kurelek’s spiritual devotion and his art, he set out to make the film Kurelek had always wanted. He brought together a well-known actor, a couple of great musicians and composers, and his own brilliant talent, honed by years of television work as a director of photography and director. The result was, in the words of the Vatican, where it was given a rare special screening, “a masterpiece.” Wherever it was shown at film festivals, Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ won awards. Audiences everywhere were powerfully drawn to Kurelek’s loving and compassionate portrayal of Jesus. A film whose time has come But the early 80s were not exactly a spiritual age. Remember the 80s? They were a time of greed and self-interest. People left churches in droves. The big markets that could show a monumental work like Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ just didn’t get it. But those who hungered for its message were always there. And somehow they found out about it. Over the years, through word of mouth, this film became a Christian classic. Now this unique film is available for the first time in DVD. What makes it so compelling? It tells you in a simple narrative from one painting to the next what happened to Jesus, starting at the night of the Last Supper up to the day of the Resurrection. What makes it such a unique experience is how each painting evokes such deep feelings. That is the real power of art. To guide you into an inner receptive state so you will see with new eyes a reality beyond your everyday life. A world that makes everything you read in your bible every day very real. Dr. Donald De Marco says that “artistic genius has the power to recall us to our status as human beings. Great art …makes us eager to do good.” The power of devotional art There was a time when all worshippers used paintings and other art to renew and inspire their faith. In fact, religious paintings were the only paintings they knew because that’s all artists created. Ordinary people just had to look up at the sculptures of saints on cathedrals to be reminded that God was there around them all the time. Or gaze up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to marvel at Michelangelo’s painting of the Creation of Adam. These works of art also reinforced the message of God’s love for us. You can have the same experience when you watch Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ. Because when you are in the presence of real art, you are in the presence of God. Religious art is the oldest form of art—it has comforted, inspired and awed religious people for thousands of years. If you’ve ever found solace and strength in a picture of Jesus, you know what I mean. There are many examples of the power of religious art to work miracles. Here is just one: in Florence, a painting of the Madonna, called the Madonna of Impruneta, was carried through the streets for all to see whenever a devastating event visited Florence. When the plague of 1633 descended on Florence, the procession of the Madonna of Impruneta took place. The plague left Tuscany a few months later. Over the years, the painting had assumed such power that its appearance resulted in miracles. Because the painting of the Madonna was the closest thing to her actual presence. That’s the power in a painting. If that’s the power one painting can have, what about 160 paintings? And not just any paintings—we’re talking about the most important religious paintings of the 20th century. Kurelek actually went to the Holy Land twice so he could see what the people and the landscape looked like, and also just to get the feel of the place where Jesus died. But he also used the landscape of his native Manitoba. He wanted to show that these weren’t just events that happened a long time ago in some far away place. He even put people he knew in the paintings. His whole point was to show that our redemption and salvation are universal and eternal. They happen every day in our lives. That’s what makes this a film for today. Recommended for kids In Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ, like all great art, you can respond on many different levels—emotionally, spiritually, compassionately, artistically. You are drawn into an unforgettable combination of art, film and faith. An experience that you can repeat again and again. And, unlike Mel Gibson’s film, your kids can watch it too. When you’re a child, you love picture books—they make the story come alive. And that’s what your kids will love about this film too. They’re just finding out about Jesus, who He is, and what He means to them. Make it easy for them. All the reviewers of Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ recommended it without reservation for children. Here’s what one of them said about the film: "Though especially poignant at Easter time for church groups, this fine production will enliven the Easter story for public library audiences and junior and senior high school studies of holidays. Ages 12 to adult." American Library Association, Booklist We’ve only been able to tell you a few things about this remarkable film. The abiding faith that created these paintings. The monumental achievement of painting Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ over a series of 160 paintings. The sensitivity and skill Phil Earnshaw has brought to creating a whole larger than the sum of its parts. The dramatic use of music to heighten the tension and horror. The sound effects—the sounds of the crowd, the earthquake at Golgotha—that eerily recreate those last days. Many of Kurelek’s paintings are now worth more than $200,000. He has a worldwide following of fans who are eager, in fact impatient, to get their hands on this treasured film. We could sell Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ for hundreds of dollars. Each painting alone is worth many thousands times more than that. But because we want to introduce Kurelek’s The Passion of Christ to as wide an audience as possible, we are offering it to you for only $24.95 plus shipping and handling. About the same as the price of the latest hit from Hollywood. Except that this is a film worth owning. Not just a film. A work of art. To be the proud owner of a work of art that has no equal anywhere—that will power your faith in a way that millions of worshippers have experienced before you—isn’t that something worth doing for yourself? Worth celebrating? Find out for yourself. Invite the work of an artistic genius into your life. And feel your faith soar. Sincerely, Laurel-Lea Shannon Of course, if you’re not completely satisfied with this unique film, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee. P.S. If you order The Passion of Christ before February 28th, we will send you free a 2,500 word biography of the inspiring life of William Kurelek, written especially for this film.