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‘The Book Of Clarence’ Ending Explained & Movie Recap: What Happens To Clarence?

The Book of Clarence might just be one of the most unique movies I have watched in a while. I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but it is definitely entertaining considering my own Catholic upbringing, which I could draw context from, adding to the humor. While the idea of seeing Black actors playing biblical characters vibing to soul and R&B in 33 AD Jerusalem is quite funny, it is quite a difficult job to write about a movie as genre-bending as this. Personally, I giggled throughout the movie, but I won’t be surprised if many people of faith wouldn’t do the same. While off to a great start with its satire on the biggest majoritarian faith on the planet, The Book of Clarence takes a U-turn as if trying to make up for their mockery of the passion of Christ. The one thing this movie does best is indeed the comedy, but as for the rest, it gets quite boring. From an agnostic point of view, I have often seen Jesus’s actions as an act of rebellion against Roman hegemony as well as corruption and bigotry in the Judean society, a theme that plays a central role in the dark comedy.


What Was Clarence’s Life Like Before Becoming The Messiah?

Clarence is a Hebrew man living in Jerusalem in 33 AD, peddling marijuana and other drugs and struggling to provide for his old mother. Clarence has a twin brother, Thomas, one of the 12 apostles (the apostle who came to India in 52 AD), who has left Clarence and their mother behind to follow Jesus Christ, making Clarence despise the Messiah. Clarence has a reputation as a village troublemaker and is often chided for his disbelief in God. After taking a loan from Jedediah the Terrible, a powerful loan shark, for a chariot street race with Mary Magdalene, he loses and wrecks the chariot. An infuriated Jedediah gives Clarence a month to pay back his debt, but here’s the catch, he is also in love with Jedediah’s sister, Varinia, who doesn’t think very highly of him. 


Why Does Clarence Decide To Be The Messiah?

Clarence is looked down upon by most of the people in the village, including Varinia and even Thomas, who explicitly calls him a nobody. Hoping to gain leniency from Jedediah, Clarence goes to John the Baptist to get himself baptized, who sarcastically gives him an earful for swindling this man of faith for personal gain but eventually baptizes him reluctantly. After a disagreement with Varinia regarding his temperament towards life, he proceeds to go to the twelve apostles to become the 13th apostle, hoping that they will be able to save him from being killed by Jedediah. However, Judas Iscariot suggests that to be an apostle, he must do something selfless, and proposes that he free the gladiator slaves from a local slaver, but even after risking his life and freeing a slave, the apostles do not let him into the circle. As a last resort, an infuriated Clarence conceives a plan with the help of his friends, Elijah and Barrabas, declaring himself a messiah, like Jesus, but with a different rhetoric emphasizing knowledge being stronger than faith, performing fake miracles around Judea to earn money and respect.


Why Does Clarence Free All The Slaves?

Clarence’s newfound occupation as a fraudulent Messiah earns him a lot of money and attention from the people. He imitates Jesus’s acts of miracles with the help of his friends. tricking the people of Judea into believing that he actually is a messiah. This is the first time Clarence has seen so much money, which makes him question the methods by which he achieved it. He feels guilty for deceiving innocent people for his personal motives. Perhaps, while acting as a messiah, Clarence actually started seeing himself as one, and that gave him a moral awakening, making him realize his follies. Clarence, therefore, gives away all the riches he earned to the slave owner and frees all his slaves as an act of redemption.


Does Clarence Eventually Believe In God?

Clarence was not the only person who capitalized on Jesus’s rise as the Messiah. The news of his miracles and the false messiahs had already reached Rome, prompting the Romans to prosecute and crucify the messiahs in Judea. During Judas’s betrayal of the Messiah, he points out Clarence to the Romans. The Roman centurions arrest Clarence and take him to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, for his trial. Clarence is tired of this lie that he created to swindle people for money and acceptance, which is why he confesses the truth about his plans to the governor. He even confesses about the petty crimes he committed before becoming the new Messiah, adding that he did everything to make Varinia reciprocate his love, to prove to his brother that he is not a nobody, and to get away from Jedediah’s wrath. Pontius, however, is unconvinced of his confession and decides to test him instead. He orders Clarence to walk on water in the flooding tank, telling him he should offer a spectacle to the Judean people, claiming their god and messiahs to be false. But, as soon as he steps into the pool, he actually finds himself standing on the surface of the pool. The Romans capture him and throw him in jail, waiting to be crucified. This miraculous incident solidifies Clarence’s faith in God, as his rational mind cannot apprehend why this has happened to him.


Who Is Benjamin The Beggar?

Benjamin is a local beggar wandering the streets of Jerusalem, asking for money for food and shelter. He is treated harshly by everyone who comes across him. However, when Jesus crosses paths with this poor man, he heals this man’s ailments and miraculously an endless stream of coins starts materialising in his palms. Benjamin goes to the local parlor and asks to be cleaned after what seems to have been ages. After a thorough cleaning, Benjamin is revealed to be a white man. The filmmakers have very comically placed Benjamin in this movie to fulfill the interpretation of White Jesus, addressing the Western whitewashing of Jesus, who was most likely to be a Palestinian man.


What Happens To Clarence At The End?

Following his sentencing, Clarence is imprisoned and ordered to be crucified. However, Pontius offers him freedom in exchange for him giving them Jesus’s location, which Clarence adamantly rejects. What follows is Clarence’s torture in a manner similar to Jesus in the canonical story, forcing him to carry his own cross to Mount Calvary, and whipping him throughout the way. He is crucified next to several false messiahs, including White Jesus, Benjamin, who was crucified for suspicion of being a false messiah. Clarence eventually dies of his injuries, symbolizing his death as an act of ultimate sacrifice. Three days later, the real Jesus Christ breaks into his tomb and resurrects him.

The Book of Clarence starts with a mockery of the irrational sides of the faith but then also embraces the central tenets of Christianity for which it is revered by so many people—sacrifice. 


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