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 and Frank Thring may be read here, here, here, here here and here.
Stephen Russell portrays Pilate in The Gospel of John (2003) which is a straight forward no frills presentation of the Gospel of John. As in the Gospel of John Pilate is shown in the film as first curious about Jesus and then sympathetic to Jesus. He attempts to save Jesus by giving the mob a choice between Jesus and the bandit Barabbas. When that fails he presents Jesus after He has been beaten and utters the phrase Ecce Homo, Behold the Man.
Pilate stands in for Fallen Humanity in this depiction. Wanting to do good, but allowing cowardice and the concern for earthly vanities to sway him from the question that he posed to Truth Incarnate: Truth? What is Truth? In viewing this Pilate we see why it was necessary for Christ to die on the Cross as humanity, with the best of intentions, is doomed without the grace brought into the world by the Resurrection. Pilate allows his terror of his loyalty to Caesar being suspect to overcome his desire for the Truth, something that is sadly familiar still to the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.