This chapter looks at the representation of the Roman governor Pilate in the Jesus biopics in comparison with his role in the Gospel accounts. The Gospels portray him as a fair-minded and weak-willed leader, who was easily manipulated by Caiaphas and the Jewish crowds into executing Jesus despite his own belief in Jesus' innocence. This image contrasts rather starkly with the portrait of a ruthless, even vicious man that is to be found in noncanonical sources. In crafting a coherent and dramatic depiction of the events that lead inexorably to Jesus' crucifixion, filmmakers must address this discrepancy and, more specifically, assign responsibility for Jesus' death, either to Pilate, who formally pronounces the death sentence, or to one or more Jewish participants in this tragic affair. In doing so, they must also decide whether to introduce Pilate only in the trial scene, as the Gospels uniformly do, or to bring him into the story at an early point, in order to build a context and momentum for his role in the trial story.
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