Review: The Old Man and Jesus: Prophets of Rebellion (2005)


Director: Marcelo Andrade Arreaza | 70 minutes | documentary

And what about life in Venezuela? Moderate, if we are to believe the documentary “The Old Man and Jesus: Prophets of Rebellion”. But for the masses, it could have been worse if Hugo Chavez hadn’t been there. In any case, this controversial head of government has managed to meet the greatest needs of the poorest Venezuelans. Healthcare has improved and poverty has diminished slightly. But according to a budding revolutionary Jesus, that is still far from enough.

In 2002 Jesus lived under a bridge with an elderly comrade. This nameless man, like Jesus, is a former prison client. Both gentlemen firmly believe in a revolution based on the old French model. The old man has a reputation for being extremely intelligent, but that is not really reflected in this film. For example, the story he tells about the French Revolution comes across as naive rather than intelligent.

The images from 2002 are followed by those from 2005. The old man has since died, murdered in a street fight. We follow Jesus on his tour of Carácas and especially hear his endless jeremiades. When he enters a wealthy neighborhood, he confides in us that his life is in danger here, but this life-threatening walk is no more than a scold by a security officer. In addition to the story of Jesus, there are some interviews with so-called supporters of the right, but these come across so caricatural and empty-headed that it looks a bit like a drama.

Although there is a lot of talk about poverty and social injustice in this film, director Marcelo Andrade Arreaza is unable to make this tangible for a moment. We see images of the vagrants and the wealthy elite of Carácas, but these are nothing different from the images we know of other world cities. In addition, the continuous and completely superficial lamentation of the so-called revolutionaries is counterproductive. What could have been a harrowing documentary turns into a boring political pamphlet. Sin.

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