Monday, February 28, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The production is actually an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's writings on Jesus. Tagore, was a Bangladeshi poet, author and playwright who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. His writings on Jesus tended to emphasise his humanity and his humanitarian message.
The DVD went on sale at the start of the month. More information is available from CathNewsIndia.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
It turns out the film was The Gathering by director James Cooper. Jesus is portrayed as a postman who advertises a public gathering. I won't say anymore, but point you instead to the film itself which you can watch for free on Vimeo.
I must admit I'm quite taken by this little film, not least because it's kept me thinking about it for the last fortnight. It's also nicely shot, well acted, subtly made and gently humorous.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Movieweb are carrying a piece called "Noah Is Dirty and Not PG Says Darren Aronofsky". I couldn't get the actual page to work, but Google has it in its cache. Their article says that the project will actually be a mini-series and that it will be sci-fi adaptation of the graphic novel. Interestingly it also cites the 1976 Sunn Pictures documentary In Search of Noah's Ark as a source of inspiration, one that I've never seen, but that I know Peter Chattaway has fond memories of.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
One of the items in their was a message from the writer, producer and director of an ultra-independent film about Job based in Canada. Randy Hiebert was inspired to write a screenplay for Where is my Father after his "wife suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm during a Sunday worship service" and his "son suffered a concussion during a youth retreat". Whilst both have since made a full recovery it seems that this was a time when the book of Job struck a chord with him. 6 years later and the film is available to buy online. You can also watch the trailer at the Interlake Christian Films website. The website also gives details of a limited number of live screenings for anyone who is interested.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The first session I actually got to run three times, although the last time was slightly different. It was designed initially as part of an initiative run by the Loughborough Churches Partnership. People from the different congregations gathered and chose three out of six workshops looking at the Bible in a different way. Fearing that all six may end up using the gospels I decided to focus instead on Moses. I started getting everyone to read the story of the burning bush. Then I took clips from five film interpretations of Moses, and got those present to think through various questions relating to them. I'm planning to upload my slides for this talk so anyone who wants to can have a look at them.
For various reasons I didn't want to talk very much in this session so I restricted myself to a one minute intro where I explained about how Bible films force us to look at the Bible through someone else's perspective; explained what we were going to do and then just set a timed PowerPoint presentation do the rest. That worked pretty effectively. I had previously put the clips into PowerPoint using the methods I discussed last year, and during the questions used a PowerPoint timer tool I built to let people know how long was left before the next clip (as well as a beep). What I didn't do was leave any time for discussion as I only had 30 minutes.
The first two times around I used 5 clips and my work looking at portrayals of the burning bush last year came in very handy. In the end though I cheated a little bit. Wanting to include a silent clip, but knowing that DeMille's 1923 version of this story did not include this encounter I used a clip from Curtiz's Noah's Ark (1928) instead. Whilst this is a little cheeky, I would argue that Curtiz's scene of Noah hearing God's command atop a mountain with a bush bursting into flames as God speaks is an interpretation of the Moses story to some degree. I also used the scene from DeMille's later film in 1956, Moses the Lawgiver (1975), The Prince of Egypt (1998) and 2006's The Ten Commandments. This meant I left out the two films from 1996 - Testament and Moses. I didn't really feel they added a great deal and I didn't really have the time.
The session seemed to go down reasonably well first time around. That said not having time for discussion afterwards meant that it was hard to ascertain exactly how people had found it other than the handful of encouraging comments I got at the end. The second time around I did it at lunchtime, the audience was significantly older and I only got feedback from one person (I didn't know as many) so I didn't feel that it went down as well, but I think that probably reflects more on my state of mind than anything else.
The third time I opted to run this session was at church weekend away which I oversee (at least from an administration point of view). Here I had a longer slot - 45 minutes - which enabled me to reinstate the Moses (1996) clip and hold some discussion afterwards. Here the audience was entirely students which meant that almost all of them had seen The Prince of Egypt when they were around 6-7, and had, in effect grown up with this image of Moses. All of them stated that this was their favourite portrayal. There were also a couple of interesting observations that came out. One liked how the 1975 clip captured the fear of seeing a staff turn into a snake and a hand become leprous. Another commented on how it would take Moses a long time to adjust to God's call and how the 2006 clip bought that out for them. I enjoyed this session in particular. It's good to run it without human intervention but the feedback at the end can be pretty valuable, and brings further perspectives out for those who are there.
The second presentation I was doing was running a similar session at our weekend away only using clips from different films covering different parts of the life of Jesus. The preparation for this session was rushed due to family concerns, and as a result there were a few technical issues, notably the last clip which hadn't converted properly, and an annoying blue line around the edge of the screen. I did like the effect though, having not really done something before. It was "quite intense" (in a good way) as someone said afterwards, and moving from one film to another with the marked changes in styles was quite jarring, preventing us from slipping into passivity. The clips I used were as follows:
Gospel of John (2003) - John's prologueHaving not actually sat through this session before I ran it (which would have eliminated the technical problems) I really enjoyed it and would be keen to run a tweaked version of it again.
Mary the Mother of Jesus (1999) - Jesus' mandate
Son of Man (1969) - Sermon on the Mount
Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - Sermon on the Plain
Jesus of Montreal (1989) - Miracles montage in play
Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - Raising of Lazarus
Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (1964) - Dispute with the Pharisees
Jesus of Montreal (1989) - Little Apocalypse
The Passion (2008) - Crucifixion
The Cross (2001) - Resurrection
The final project was to compose 30 minutes of clips from the Bible as a whole that would be visual enough to work without sound. They also had to be child friendly. This kind of thing is always harder because the people there haven't necessarily wanted to see stuff like this this, (it was just on in the background during worship) and without the balance of other clips there's a higher demand for something that is roughly on a par with what they are used to seeing from films. The lack of sound also means the visuals have to be stronger than normal and, of course, many films on the Bible struggle here in particular. In the end I went for these five clips:
The Bible: In the Beginning (1966) - CreationThis went down quite well, particularly with the older children. I also got someone asking me about the 1923 film, and various people seemed to access it across the weekend.
Testament: Abraham (1996) - Isaac on the altar
Ten Ten Commandments (1923) - Parting of the Red Sea
Miracles of Jesus (2007) - Widow of Nain's son
From the Manger to the Cross (1912) - Crucifixion
The Cross (2001) - Resurrection
The nice thing about doing all of this is it gives me a few presentations (they were all done using PowerPoint) which I can access in future. I've also sorted out my laptop so I have more of a central area for this material from now on.
Labels: My talks
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Recently however I've become aware of a number of other films on the subject. The only one I have seen (and reviewed) is the 2008 BBC documentary, also called The Star of Bethlehem. This it turns out is an entirely different film from the 2007 one above. Whereas the BBC documentary took in a number of different perspectives, the 2007 film was a look at a specific theory about the star developed by legal professor Rick Larson. The film has an official website and Peter Chattaway reviewed its release on DVD in 2009, as did Christianity Today.
The next film to add to the list is the Italian film La Stella dei Re (pictured) which was made in 2006, though IMDb lists it as 2007. It seems to have been made by/for Italy's RAI, who have made some significant Bible films in their time and it appears to have been released on DVD in Italy. I can find this DVD cover which contains numerous bits of useful information, but no links for where to buy it (though I only carried out a short search). It also played on broadcast TV over Christmas. I should point out however that the title's literal translation is "The Star of Kings".
There are also a couple of Spanish films that a helpful reader passed on to me (as well as the above title): La Estrella de Belen (Star of Bethlehem) from 1998, and Los Reyes Magos (The Magi-Kings) from 2003.
Labels: Nativity - Mary Joseph
Monday, February 07, 2011
Ralph Staub's "Good Morning Eve'' (1934), which by Leonard Maltin's reckoning beat "La Cucaracha'' into theaters as the first three-strip, live-action Techicolor short, is an especially racy Leon Errol musical about Adam and Eve traveling through history.From a bit more research it seems that the film is available in two parts on YouTube. I've not seen it yet so you might like to take note of the use of the phrase "especially racy" above and that it was released in the pre-production code era. The IMDB also has a few reviews which mention that "Adam (Leon Errol) and Eve (June MacCloy) leave the Garden of Eden and stroll through history, stopping for production numbers in Rome with Nero and in England with King Arthur", and that the film was only the "second three-strip Technicolor film in history". It also ends with an early 20th century beach sequence. There are some nice photos of this scene (including the above) on Flickr courtesy of Kay Wrad.
Labels: Adam and Eve
Back in 2007 I wrote quite a bit about the animated TV series Friends and Heroes. I'm going to post some thoughts on series two and three shortly, but for now I wanted to relay a couple of useful resources I've been sent:story order one and the Bible order one are particularly useful when trying to find a clip to illustrate a given passage. The former lists incidents covered in the Bible alphabetically (giving details of the relevant episode) whereas the latter does the same only by the biblical order.
Friday, February 04, 2011
So if you're still waiting for an answer, apologies and hopefully next week I'll get something to you. Unless you left spam, in which case I might be a little longer.