As purportedly nonfictional cinema, Bloodline poses an implicit dilemma to viewers and critics: How do we know if what we’re watching is real? Such is the skepticism one must take with them into virtually every documentary of the past few years—no small thanks to the dubious tactics of Michael Moore—but the stakes of Bloodline‘s subject matter lie so high that one can’t help but turn up their sense of scrutiny to 11. The theory that Jesus of Nazareth married and impregnated Mary Magdalene has been the inspiration for work both transcendent (Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ) and stinky (Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code), but few films have attempted to deal with the proposition in hard facts such as filmmaker/detective Bruce Burgess does so here.
Chronicling a three-year investigation into the matter, Bloodline is wary of the tightrope it walks upon and thus does not proclaim any of its discoveries to be necessary proof of the matter; Burgess states his opinions openly but is refreshingly honest in presenting his work as inconclusive research into something far beyond the argumentative capabilities of a single film. One only needs to question the official story of Christ to send countless individuals scurrying to protect their interests, be they the spiritual investment made into his story of hope or the sheer economic might of the Catholic Church. Bloodline is best when it pontificates on its own place in the world, eventually suggesting that a new perspective on Christ’s life might be the true resurrection.
Concrete or not, however, the physical evidence of his bloodline as shown here is awesomely compelling, from interviews with individuals claiming intimate knowledge on the Priory of Sion—the organization rumored to have long protected the secrets of Jesus’s life as covered up by the Catholic Church—to an extended exploration of a French tomb that contains what may very well be the mummified remains of Mary Magdalene. Teaming up with fellow researchers to ferret out hidden clues coded into works of art and the architecture of key religious buildings, Burgess’s efforts are not unlike a high-stakes scavenger hunt, individuals from the past having left behind clues for a future world more equipped to handle the truth. An inherently in-progress work, Bloodline begs for a sequel some time down the road, but for the time being it’s one heluva rough draft. Either that, or, an amazingly constructed hoax.