What to expect from The Book Of Clarence

THE BOOK OF CLARENCE tells the tale of Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield), a down-on-his-luck citizen of Jerusalem in the year 33 A.D., who embarks on a misguided quest to capitalize on the rise, celebrity, and influence of a messiah named Jesus. For Clarence, God doesn’t exist, but Jesus & his 12 apostles do.

You wouldn’t expect a movie set in Biblical times to feature new music from JAY-Z, or be influenced by films like ‘Fast & Furious’, ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ & ‘Superman II’ but this is no ordinary sand & sandals desert story. “People are people across time, so why wouldn’t there be illegal races through the streets of ancient Jerusalem?” says director Jeymes Samuel on the electrifying chariot race that opens his film. After exploding onto the scene with his 2021 directorial debut ‘The Harder They Fall’, filmmaker Jeymes Samuel is panning his lens from the Old West to the New Testament with this sprawling new epic.

Inspired by the biblical dramas he grew up like 1961’s ‘King Of Kings’ & 1959’s ‘Ben Hur’ admiring the scale with which they conveyed art & entertainment in equal measure, the film is an attempt to revive, with swagger, a hibernating genre for contemporary audiences who have seen it all. But they’ve never seen this… “’The Book Of Clarence’ is my way of giving people a full meal of how I see cinema, as an all-inclusive envi- ronment,” Samuel says. “While I am not part of a religious sect, I count myself as a believer in God and some- thing greater than myself. But this film is not meant to be a ‘religious’ film or a retelling of biblical scripture. It really is for everyone, no matter what your belief system may be.”

The film is a bold take on the time-less Biblical-era story. Streetwise but down-on-his-luck, Clarence is a regular guy living in the same town as Jesus, who aims to use the rise of celebrity and influence of the Messiah for his own personal gain. The ambitious tale pulls in classic biblical figures like Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and John the Bap- tist, but all with an unexpected twist. With the help of his friends Elijah (RJ Cyler) and Dirty Zeke (Caleb McLaughlin), as well as the formerly enslaved gladiator Barabbas (Omar Sy), Clarence takes to the streets to swindle his way to fortune as a New Messiah. Clarence is played by Oscar-nominat- ed actor LaKeith Stanfield, (‘Get Out’, ‘Judas & The Black Messiah), who previously worked on Samuel’s earlier film ‘The Harder They Fall.’

“Clarence is like most of us,” Stanfield says. “He has ambitions in his life. He wants bigger & better things and is willing to do what he feels is neces- sary to bring about that change, hoping this will bring hap- piness to his family and assurance with- in himself that he is more than what he appears to be on the surface.”

THE BOOK OF CLARENCE is at cinemas from April 19th