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White Countess, The

By

Source: Catholic News Service

Lavish, final collaboration of director James Ivory and the late Ismail Merchant with an original screenplay by novelist Kazuo Ishiguro about an impoverished Russian countess (Natasha Richardson) supporting her young daughter and ungrateful family (Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, John Wood, Madeleine Potter) while working as a hostess in a nightclub run by blind ex-diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) in 1930s' Shanghai, China, just before the Japanese invasion. Though the narrative isn't totally convincing, it has an epic sweep, and after an uncertain start builds to a satisfying conclusion with excellent performances. Some crass language, sexual innuendo, suggested prostitution, gambling, drunkenness, some barroom and wartime violence. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus: The actions of these two influential Jewish leaders give insight into the charismatic power of Jesus and his teachings—and the risks that could be involved in following him.
<p><b>Joseph</b> was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a disciple of Jesus. Following the death of Jesus, Joseph obtained Jesus' body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried it. For these reasons Joseph is considered the patron saint of funeral directors and pallbearers. More important is the courage Joseph showed in asking Pilate for Jesus' body. Jesus was a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed. According to some legends, Joseph was punished and imprisoned for such a bold act.
</p><p><b>Nicodemus</b> was a Pharisee and, like Joseph, an important first-century Jew. We know from John's Gospel that Nicodemus went to Jesus at night—secretly—to better understand his teachings about the kingdom. Later, Nicodemus spoke up for Jesus at the time of his arrest and assisted in Jesus' burial. We know little else about Nicodemus.
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