• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and a few bits and pieces on the Bible.


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    Matt Page

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    U.K.

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    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Bible Films and The British Museum

    If things seems a little quiet around here as of late it's partly because I've been preparing for taking a group round the British Museum this Saturday. It's something I've wanted to do for quite a while but there's a good amount of research to be done, and lots of other bits of pieces to do to get life back on track after my holiday.

    Anyway, as I've been reading about some of the exhibits in the museum that relate to the Bible (of which there are many) I've been thinking about how such archaeological finds impact Bible films. Various Bible films make claims for accuracy, but to what extent does this rest on the archaeological evidence.

    There are three areas I've though of so far which might have benefited from the exhibits in the museum. The first is in Moses films, such as The Ten Commandments (1956). The props in the picture above obviously draw heavily on the remaining sphinxes (sphinges?) in Egypt, but, to my eye at least, there's also a reliance on the BM's statue of Ramsees II. DeMille's film (which produced a book documenting its research) isn't alone to draw on this statue. the film's namesake from 2006 includes some similar images in this courtyard shot.

    Secondly, there is also the introduction to the Living Christ Series which starts with the ministry of Isaiah and includes a shot of the 5 legged bulls which stand proud in the museum. OBscure but notable certainly.

    Te last, and arguably most surprising place that we found references to some of this stuff is in the headgear of the temple guards in various Jesus films. In Jesus of Nazareth, The Passion of the Christ and BBC's The Passion we find the Jewish guards wearing similar headgear to that found on Jewish prisoners on the Lachish reliefs. The gap of 700 years makes it questionable whether the helmets would have any similarities but it's an interesting source nonetheless.

    Can anyone think of any more?

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Oldest Known Images of John and Andrew Uncovered in Rome

    This morning's Guardian is reporting the uncovering of images of John and Andrew dating back to the 4th century.

    Probing this s little further this is a follow up story to last year's discovery of an early image of St. Paul, also in the Saint Thekla Catacomb. The catacomb, which is curiously not listed at Wikipedia, is only accessible via a door in a Vatican office building.

    Anyway, these are thought to be the earliest images of the two apostles, which date back to the period when the collation of the New Testament was still in process.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Exodus on 4oD

    Back in 2007 I wrote various posts about the film Exodus (a.k.a The Margate Exodus) which set the story of Moses in the modern day seaside town of Margate. I've just discovered that the film is available to view online on Channel 4's 4oD as well as on YouTube, though I imagine access will be blocked in many countries.

    I have mixed memories of the film, partly because I remember its weakness more than its strengths. My review at the time mentioned various positives which I have since forgotten. Perhaps I should watch it again at some point.

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    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Website Changes?

    I was away on holiday last week (hence the lack of posts over the last 7 days), and as always it gives me a time to do some thinking (although not so much since we had the kids). One of the things I've been mulling over for a while was to do with changes to my site, particularly as I'm nearing the 1000th post mark.

    There are various factors which are making me think about some changes. First and foremost is the fact that as the blog gets bigger and bigger it becomes harder and harder for people to navigate. Then there's the growing number of posts per label, making it harder still to find earlier posts for some of the more popular films. There's also the question of screen resolution. When I last changed my template (I'm still on a modified version of an original blogger template) the screen resolution on my laptop was only 800x600, now both of the PCs I use regularly are over 1250 pixels wide, meaning a lot of useful space is wasted. Lastly there are a few good reasons to have a dedicated domain name, Wikipedia could link to me for example, I'd have a simpler domain name and I could do certain feature pages that I could do whatever I want with, plus I could actually join the 21st century.

    But there are downsides as well: redesigning anything would be a lot of hard work; moving the site away from blogger would make me less visible on Google, and potentially lose me the labels; there's a small cost implication; any changes I made would need to be fairly future proof, not just cover all the bases now; and on top of that there's my general discomfort with changing something that, in general, works reasonably well, particularly as there's a frighteningly blank sheet-ish-ness to the possibilities a new site offers. It might be possible to marry blogger with an independent site, but what happens to all the links etc. etc..

    So I thought I open this up for ideas. I believe there are a few regular readers of this blog and I'd be interested to hear from them or anyone else who's just passing through. Do you have any useful experience I can draw on or any advice, feedback, ideas or suggestions. Which parts of my sidebars do you find most/least useful? How do you find navigating the site? Are there any other sites you're familiar with that might provide a good template? Any advice you offer would be most welcome.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Testament: The Bible in Animation Finally Comes to DVD

    Over the years I've made various posts about the short series of Hebrew Bible films Testament: The Bible in Animation. Whilst these short films have been available on Region 1 DVD for a while, potential purchases have had to buy them individually, putting pressure on shelves as well as pockets.

    So I was really pleased to discover that the Bible Society has now made them all available on a 2 DVD box set. I can't seem to find out whether the set is region 2 or region 0, but hopefully I'll find that out fairly soon. The Bible Society never do these things by halves, so in addition to the nine films, there are also resource packs to download for teachers and church groups. The DVDs have subtitles, but seemingly no other extras.

    The 9 titles are as follows (with links to my reviews where they exist)
    * Episode 1: Creation and Flood (25 mins)
    * Episode 2: Abraham (25 mins) - pictured
    * Episode 3: Moses (27 mins)
    * Episode 4: Jonah (26 mins)
    * Episode 5: Ruth (25 mins)
    * Episode 6: Elijah (27 mins)
    * Episode 7: Joseph (26 mins)
    * Episode 8: David and Saul (27 mins)
    * Episode 9: Daniel (24 mins)
    For those not familiar with the series, it was made by the same team who went on to create The Miracle Maker, and like that film they use a variety of different animated techniques across the series - although they stick to one technique per episode. Whilst the films certainly are suitable for children, they have a fairly grown up take on things - don't think for a minute that they are just for the kids - and the animated medium used is itself often very expressionistic.

    Like any series some are better than others, though that's due in part to individual preferences about animation styles, but overall this is a great series,with certain instalments offering the best film interpretation yet of their particular story.

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    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Full List of Adam and Eve Films

    On Sunday I started compiling a list of films featuring Adam and Eve. I've now had a chance to work through that previous list, and eliminate a few films which seem only tangentially linked to the biblical story. In some cases however there isn't really enough evidence to tell. I've also arranged them in ascending order of year. Here's the full list, 44 films in total:

    Adam & Eve (1910)
    Adam & Eve [Vitagraph] (1912)
    The New Adam and Eve (1915)
    Young Eve and Old Adam (1920)
    Adam and Eve a la Mode (1920)
    Adam and Eve in the Andes (1920)
    The Bible: Creation (1921)
    Adam and Eve (1921)
    Good Morning Eve (1934)
    Green Pastures (1936)
    Adán, Eva y el diablo [aka Adam, Eve and the Devil] (1945)
    Der Apfel ist AB (1948)
    Adamo ed Eva (1949)
    Adamo ed Eva (1950)
    Adam wa Hawa (1951)
    Adan y Eva (1956)
    Stvoreni Sveta [The Creation of the World] (1958)
    The Creation of Woman (1960)
    The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960)
    Male and Female Since Adam and Eve (1961)
    Adam & Eve (1962)
    I Patriarchi Della Bibbia (1963)
    The Bible: In The Beginning (1966)
    La Creacion (1968)
    El Peco de Adan Y Eva [The Sin of Adam and Eve] (1968)
    El pecado de Adán y Eva [aka The Sin of Adam and Eve] (1969)
    Bible (1974)
    New Media Bible: Book of Genesis [Genesis Project] (1979)
    The Diary of Adam and Eve (1980)
    Adamo ed Eva, la prima storia d'amore (1983)
    Angyali üdvözlet (The Annunciation) (1984)
    Second Time Lucky (1984)
    The Diaries of Adam and Eve (1988)
    Genesis: Creation and Flood (1994)
    Testament: The Bible in Animation: Creation and the Flood (1996)
    In The Beginning (1999)
    Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999)
    Expulsion from Paradise (2001)
    The Story of Adam & Eve (2002)
    The Real Old Testament (2003)
    Iván Ávila Dueñas's Adán y Eva [Todavía] (2004)
    Adam and Eve: Uncensored (2006)
    The God Complex (2009)
    Year One (2009)
    The Unauthorized Biography of Adam and Eve (2009)


    There's also 3 Adam and Eve related films being produced at the moment:


    Keanu Reeves in a sci-fi version of the Adam and Eve story

    David L. Cunningham's forthcoming 3D In the Beginning
    Scott Derrickson's planned adaptation of Paradise Lost,

    Did I miss anything?

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    Wednesday, June 09, 2010

    Keanu to Play Adam in Space?

    Whoa...
    Keanu Reeves already has been locked up as the male lead, while his female love interest is still being sought for what the producers short-handed as "Adam & Eve in Space."

    ...Set in the future, "Passengers" centers on Jim Preston (Reeves), a mechanic on a 120-year journey to a distant colonized planet in another galaxy, who becomes the first traveler to experience pod hibernation failure. Having woken up 100 years too soon, he is stranded in the world of an interstellar spaceship with only robots and androids for companionship
    Thanks to Film School Rejects for highlighting this one.

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    Monday, June 07, 2010

    Gladiator Graveyard Found in York

    This is somewhat off-topic, but I know a number of the readers of this blog are interested in either the Romans or archaeology, and as it interested me I thought I'd pass it on.

    According to The Guardian, the results of forensic tests on 80 plus Roman male skeletons found in York has suggested that they may have been gladiators. It is apparently the "best-preserved" gladiator graveyard in the world. York is best known for the Viking site that was discovered there a few decades ago. It would be nice to see York known for its Roman history as much as it is for its Viking history, particularly as my parents live relatively nearby.

    A documentary about the discovery, Gladiators: Back from the Dead, will be shown on Channel 4 next Monday (14th June 2010) at 9pm.

    Sunday, June 06, 2010

    Finding Adam and Eve Films

    Recently, I've been thinking about films about the creation of the world and Adam and Eve. In part this is because it seems to me that there are so many that I have heard of but am yet to see, and I struggle to distinguish some of them from one another. SO, just as I have previously tried to list "all" films on Noah and Samson, I'm going to try to do the same for this part of the Bible.

    Firstly there are the films I have seen (linking to my writings on them - though some you may have to scroll down to reach).
    Green Pastures (1936)
    The Bible: In The Beginning (1966)
    Genesis: Creation and Flood (1994)
    Testament: The Bible in Animation: Creation and the Flood (1996)
    In The Beginning (1999)
    The Real Old Testament (2003)
    The God Complex (2009)
    Next up are the films that Campbell and Pitts name in "The Bible on Film":
    Adam & Eve (1910)
    Adam & Eve (1912) - Vitagraph
    The Bible: Creation (1921-22)
    Good Morning Eve (1934)
    Der Apfel ist AB (1948)
    Adamo ed Eva (1950)
    Adan y Eva (1956) - poster above
    Stvoreni Sveta (the Creation of the World) (1958)
    The Creation of Woman (1960)
    The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960)
    Adam & Eve (1962)
    I Patriarchi Della Bibbia (1963)
    La Creacion (1968)
    El Peco de Adan Y Eva (The Sin of Adam and Eve) (1968)
    Bible (1974)
    In addition to this there are a number of other films which I'm aware of which are not included in the above:
    Mike Figgis's Loss of Sexual Innocence (pictured above)
    The Genesis Project: Genesis,
    Year One
    (2009)
    David L. Cunningham's forthcoming 3D In the Beginning,
    Scott Derrickson's planned adaptation of Paradise Lost,
    The Annunciation (Angyali üdvözlet) (1984)
    Iván Ávila Dueñas's Adán y Eva (Todavía).
    Leafing through the Internet Movie Database reveals a number of other likely possibilities. Firstly those named simply "Adam and Eve"
    Adam and Eve (1921)
    Adamo ed Eva (1949)
    Adam wa Hawa (1951)
    Adam og Eva (1953)
    Adam och Eva (1963)
    Adam i Heva (1969)
    Adamo ed Eva, la prima storia d'amore (1983) aka "Adam and Eve"
    Adam & Eve (2002) aka "Forbidden Fruit"
    Adam & Eve (2003)
    There is also Adam and Eve (2005) better known as National Lampoon: Adam and Eve, but from what I can make out that one has little to do with the biblical story.

    Then there are also these films which include "Adam and Eve" in the title, and might well be based on the Bible in some way:
    The New Adam and Eve (1915)
    Young Eve and Old Adam (1920)
    Adam and Eve a la Mode (1920)
    Adam and Eve in the Andes (1920)
    Adán, Eva y el diablo (1945) aka "Adam, Eve and the Devil"
    Male and Female Since Adam and Eve (1961)
    El pecado de Adán y Eva (1969)aka "The Sin of Adam and Eve" - USA
    The Diary of Adam and Eve (1980)
    The Diaries of Adam and Eve (1988) (TV)
    The Story of Adam & Eve (2002)
    Eve & Adam (2004)
    Adam and Eve: Uncensored (2006)
    The Unauthorized Biography of Adam and Eve (2009)
    I haven't had time to check the descriptions of the films on the IMDB as usually a few of them prove to be largely unrelated. So when I get another chance I'll work through all those, eliminate any spurious entries and post a complete list.

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    Wednesday, June 02, 2010

    Will Esther Feature in Xerxes?

    The Los Angeles Times has an interview with Frank Miller about his plans for a 300 prequel mini-series, Xerxes. He talks about the impact of the last movie and gives some outlines as to the scope of this new project. This part stood out in particular:
    "There's an extended scene set in Persepolis," adds Miller, "for instance, where he [Xerxes] takes power and there are several scenes where he is going through his transitions and he's shown speaking to his mother and his wife..."
    The wife is unnamed, but among the various contenders for who this might be is the biblical queen, Esther. It's true that we're unclear whether the king she married was Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I or even Artaxerxes II, and even if it was Xerxes I then it could be either his wife Amestris or even Vashti that Miller is thinking of. Nevertheless there is a chance it could be Esther.

    That said, Xerxes and Vashti are also biblical characters to an extent so even their portrayal would be of some relevance. It's quite interesting to juxtapose portrayals of Xerxes in Esther films with that in 300: in the former Xerxes is usually portrayed (bizarrely in my opinion) as a hero, whereas in 300, and the Greek historical sources that the film is very loosely based on, he is very much the villain.

    Comingsoon.net
    has also covered the story.

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    A New Modernisation of the Jesus Story: In Our Time

    I got an email a week or two back from the producers of In Our Time - a contemporary version of the story of Jesus. It's due to be released in December 2010 and will be distributed by Lions Gate Films.

    There's a handful of details about the film available in the latest press release and it also has a facebook page. There's also the beginnings of an official website with a good deal of information including plot synopsis, production locations and cast biographies.

    DJ Perry (pictured above in last year's Book of Ruth) will be heading up the cast as Jesus, and the actors starring in most of the main parts have been named, although only Matthew has been named amongst the apostles. There also seems to be a chance that Jon Voight and/or Richard Dreyfuss will have cameos. Richard N. Bailey has written the screenplay.

    According to the press release, the story is narrated by Mary which will make for an interesting comparison with Jezile (Son of Man) another modernised take on the story of Jesus (albeit set in South Africa) which places Mary very much towards the film's centre.

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    Tuesday, June 01, 2010

    Charlie Brooker on Spartacus

    As far as I'm aware there's nothing that connects Spartacus: Blood and Sand to the Bible, and so this post is slightly off-topic. But it's rare that one of my favourite columnists / TV presenters even mentions an almost-Bible film, so now that Charlie Brooker actually has, I can't resist mentioning it. Readers should be aware that, like the programme itself, the column is not for the easily offended. But on the other hand it does have some very funny lines such as this:
    Make no mistake: the gladiatorial scenes are pretty brutal. Limbs are hacked off with such nonchalant frequency, it sometimes feels more like an extreme whittling contest.
    Incidentally, this was apparently covered in the first episode in the current series of Brooker's Channel 4 show You Have Been Watching, but unfortunately, that was the one episode I missed.

    Juliette Harrisson has also posted her take on the series over at Pop Classics.