According to “Caesar’s Messiah,” Jesus Christ is an entirely fictional character and the New Testament is nothing but pro-Roman, anti-Semitic propaganda. That’s quite a provocative premise for such a didactic, monotonous and unconvincing documentary. One doesn’t have to be a true believer to find the film’s craftsmanship laughable, creating an unavoidable obstacle to taking any of its convoluted conspiracy theories seriously. Pic has been playing scattered theatrical dates.
A breathless narrator desperately tries to establish how explosive the ensuing talking-head theories are (“Some of our Bible scholars are mavericks working outside the restrictions of mainstream religious institutions!”), but aside from primary interviewee Joseph Atwill’s unwavering conviction that the gospels were self-servingly written by members of the Roman Flavian dynasty, there’s nothing all that unusual or unexpected here. If everything weren’t so plainly humorless, it would be easy to mistake the film for a satirical interview package on “The Daily Show.” The crux of the argument: Since Christianity has been used to justify wars (cue gratuitous image of former President George W. Bush) and refute science, it’s important to understand its fictional foundations. The allegation needs a better advocate than this.