The Book of Clarence: All Shooting Sites of the Historical Movie Explored

‘The Book of Clarence,’ directed by Jeymes Samuel, is a biblical epic that creates a fictional saga in Nazareth with an African-American spin on the timeless tale. The film follows Clarence, a laid-back dweller of Jerusalem’s lower city who is deeply in debt to Jedediah the Terrible. The town is witnessing the rise of a messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, with crowds flocking to his sermons and miracles. Inspired, Clarence is struck by an idea to create a similar following with the help of fraudulent miracles and teachings. Through his convincing antics, he begins to make the wealth he so desperately needs in order to be “somebody.”

However, his run comes to an end when the governor, Pontius Pilate, convicts him of fraud and throws him into prison. Feeling threatened by the rise of the real messiah, the ruler offers Clarence a deal, to bring him Jesus, and be given untold wealth and power. In his moment of truth, Clarence chooses the path of faith over greed; and is reborn. The vibrant retelling of the age-old tale explores the bustling city of Jerusalem in 33 AD. The settlement’s winding cobblestone streets and sandstone houses, along with lively taverns and Pontius Pilate’s fort, present a worthy recreation of the ancient city.

Where Was The Book of Clarence Filmed?

‘The Book of Clarence’ was filmed primarily in the town of Matera in Italy, with some scenes being shot on location in Jerusalem, Israel. Principal photography commenced in December 2022, and the movie entered post-production in March 2023. Director Jeymes Samuel is known for his passion for music and storytelling; channeling both while filming, he blaring music and danced with the cast and crew between takes. The vibrant atmosphere of cheer and involvement created as a result is clearly visible in the rambunctuous faith film. Let’s take a closer look at the locations chosen to film the reimagined biblical epic.

Matera, Italy

Cradled in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, Matera stands as a mesmerizing and historically rich site, chosen to recreate Jerusalem for the filming of ‘The Book of Clarence.’ Situated on a hill, the town’s ancient allure comes mainly from the city’s most striking feature, its ancient Sassi districts. Carved into the rocky hillsides, the district displays a unique landscape of cave dwellings and stone structures that can be seen in all their grandeur as Clarence and his friends ride in a cart up from the lower city.

Fittingly, some of the dwellings are estimated to date back nine thousand years, making the city older than Jerusalem itself. Sassi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers an unparalleled backdrop for filming the historical epic, with the film’s production crew creating an authentic atmosphere evocative of the bustling metropolis of 1st Century Jerusalem. Sassi’s labyrinthine alleyways, troglodyte dwellings, and limestone cliffs provide an atmospheric setting that can effortlessly transport audiences to the biblical era. This distinctive region has served as the backdrop for several renowned biblical films, including ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ ‘Mary Magdalene,’ and ‘Ben-Hur,’ owing to its ability to authentically recreate the ancient setting.

Its timeless ambiance, with layers of history spanning from prehistoric settlements to the present day, makes Matera a treasure trove for filmmakers seeking to evoke a sense of antiquity. Besides the city’s remarkably preserved ancient architecture, ‘The Book of Clarence’ also showcases the stunning landscapes surrounding it. The vast grasslands, framed by rolling hills feature in scenes of Clarence outside the city. The Gravina River passing through Matera likely became the filming site for Clarence’s baptism scene.

Matera’s dedication to preserving its ancient heritage while embracing modernity adds depth to its allure as a filming destination. Its rich cultural heritage and unique topography are quickly establishing Matera as an iconic and sought-after location for filmmakers seeking a backdrop that is a historical set unto itself. Some prominent films shot on its antiquated streets include, ‘Salaar,’ ‘No Time to Die,’ ‘Wonder Woman,’ and ‘Quantum of Solace.’

Jerusalem, Israel

Some shots for a few sequences in ‘The Book of Clarence’ were lensed in the real-life Jerusalem and its iconic landmarks. This was likely done as these historically relevant sites are important for the narrative of the period film. Some of the ancient sites in Jerusalem include the Haram Al-Sharif, Mount Zion, Kidron Valley, the Tower of David, and the Jewish Quarter.

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