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Hollywood's New Bible Stories ( filmmakers are rediscovering the Good Book)
WSJ ^ | September 28, 2012 | Erica Orden

Posted on 09/29/2012 1:35:31 PM PDT by NYer

When it sets sail in the coming film "Noah," a massive 148-foot wooden ark will carry not only a slew of zoo animals, but one of Hollywood's biggest wagers in years.

"Noah," a $125 million epic from Viacom's Paramount Pictures, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Darren Aronofsky, is one of a boatload of religious films in the works from major movie studios.

There are compelling economic reasons for Hollywood to embrace the Good Book. The studios are increasingly reliant on source material with a built-in audience, something the Bible—the best-selling book in history—certainly has. And like the comic-book superheroes that movie companies have relied on for the past decade, biblical stories are easily recognizable to both domestic and the all-important foreign audiences. What's more, they're free: Studios don't need to pay expensive licensing fees to adapt stories and characters already in the public domain.

With floods, plagues, burning bushes and parting seas, Bible movies make great vehicles for big-budget special effects, a key selling point for a wide swath of audience members. Paramount is hoping "Noah" will connect with religious Americans who "may not necessarily go to more than one or two movies a year," said Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore.

snip

Not since the 1950s has Hollywood been so smitten with scripture. After World War II, Hollywood relied on religious epics as vehicles for its biggest stars, particularly Charlton Heston, who carried both 1956's "The Ten Commandments," about Moses' exodus from Egypt, as well as 1959's "Ben-Hur," about a Jewish prince sent into slavery and rescued by Jesus, only to witness Jesus' crucifixion. Cecil B. DeMille's biblical epic "Samson and Delilah," released in 1949, was another hit.

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bible; cinema; hollywood
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Hollywood is embracing the Bible, with several biblical tales in the works. The studios are increasingly reliant on source material with a built-in audience, something the Bible-the best-selling book in history-certainly has.


he Ten Commandments (1956) | Starring Charlton Heston, and Yul Brynner, the four-hour film about Moses's exodus from Egypt stands as one of the most commercially and critically successful films of all time.

1 posted on 09/29/2012 1:35:45 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...
Once that process is complete, the challenge shifts to getting both mainstream moviegoers and religious audiences into theater seats, a process that relies both on specialized marketing to those eager for a faith-based film as well as marketing that appeals to those searching for a "popcorn" movie. The marketing team on "The Passion of the Christ" successfully threaded that needle, despite the significant challenges presented by its subtitles and R rating. "Our job was to make it more 'Braveheart,' " said Mr. Berney. "Really to make it a big, epic action movie in the genre." His team emphasized the music and action in the film's promotional campaign, and by selling it as a "Mel Gibson movie."

It's all about the money, Catholic Ping!

2 posted on 09/29/2012 1:37:02 PM PDT by NYer (Without justice, what else is the State but a great band of robbers? - St. Augustine)
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To: NYer
and by selling it as a "Mel Gibson movie

But, but, I thought they all hated Mel Gibson!

3 posted on 09/29/2012 1:41:52 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: NYer

Cecil B. DeMille said “there’s a movie on every page of the Bible.”


4 posted on 09/29/2012 1:45:29 PM PDT by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
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To: NYer

As long as they do a good job with it, it should help Christianity. Let them make their money. Their challenge will be to be darn sure not to offend, or they’ll be sure to lose money. This means, keep atheists and other Chistophobes as far away from this movie as possible.


5 posted on 09/29/2012 1:49:24 PM PDT by winner3000
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To: winner3000

Did you ever see the made for TV movie “Noah’s Ark” (1999)?

It was so horrible there are no words.


6 posted on 09/29/2012 1:51:57 PM PDT by donna (Pray for revival.)
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To: NYer

Are they doing this only to put a liberal spin on the Bible?


7 posted on 09/29/2012 1:52:15 PM PDT by Olog-hai
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To: Olog-hai

Are they doing this only to put a liberal spin on the Bible?

My thoughts exactly.


8 posted on 09/29/2012 1:55:08 PM PDT by dandiegirl
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To: NYer

Some suggestions for biblical movies, IF, they are based on the scriptures an not liberal revisionism:

1. Saul of Tarsus - The story of Paul, his conversion and his missionary journies would make an AWESOME film.

2. Daniel - Again, GREAT storyline and action. Fiery furnaces and whatnot.

3. Esther - Beauty, brains, daring, treachery, this story has it all.


9 posted on 09/29/2012 1:58:18 PM PDT by Bryan24 (When in doubt, move to the right..........)
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To: NYer

Great, are they going to make Noah into a flaming homosexual, where he only saves the men, and they spend 40 days and nights having a disco party on the ark?


10 posted on 09/29/2012 1:58:37 PM PDT by VanDeKoik
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To: Bryan24
3. Esther - Beauty, brains, daring, treachery, this story has it all.

And it could be a participation flick (I never saw Rocky Horror Picture Show but can use my imagination) where the audience gives grief whenever Haman appears.

11 posted on 09/29/2012 2:04:33 PM PDT by aposiopetic
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To: VanDeKoik

“Be fruity and multiply”?


12 posted on 09/29/2012 2:05:20 PM PDT by Argus
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To: NYer

“religious Americans who “may not necessarily go to more than one or two movies a year,”

That’s too funny. I think I’ve gone to two movies in the last decade, and they were “G” rated movies my daughter wanted to see. We went to see Tin Tin because she learned to read by reading that comic book series when we lived in New Zealand. The other was Toy Story 3. I gave up on Hollywood in the 1980s. I know pandering, and I’m not going to fall for it.


13 posted on 09/29/2012 2:29:54 PM PDT by pops88 (Standing with Breitbart for truth.)
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To: NYer

Whaaaaa?????

Russell Crowe as Noah?

Was Whoopie Goldberg not available????

[/s]


14 posted on 09/29/2012 2:31:25 PM PDT by TomGuy
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To: Cicero
But, but, I thought they all hated Mel Gibson!

That was before they saw how successful his movie turned out.

15 posted on 09/29/2012 2:31:44 PM PDT by al_c (http://www.blowoutcongress.com)
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To: NYer

It will probably be a pro-gay diatribe or worse than Ishtar


16 posted on 09/29/2012 2:33:11 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Olog-hai

of course it will have a leftist spin


17 posted on 09/29/2012 2:34:50 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: NYer

Ah...makes me recall the old classics where all the men looked like they worked out in the gym all day and the women had unlimited Avon samples.

The buff and the puffed.


18 posted on 09/29/2012 2:35:15 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: NYer

I’m all for it. While most of the Bible stories have been told on film through the years, far too many have been so secularized and embellished they completely loose their impact.

I consider a film like Gospel of John to be one of the best and most faithful Bible films in my life. It was entertaining for both Believers and non alike, but faithful to the text.

And there have been some really dreadful ones like the Noah’s Ark - I believe it was a made for TV version in 99? That was so very bad.


19 posted on 09/29/2012 2:38:43 PM PDT by Kandy Atz ("Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want for bread.")
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To: NYer

No automatic attendance from me. Approach these movies with an abundance of caution. There are dark evil forces at work in Hollywood.


20 posted on 09/29/2012 2:39:02 PM PDT by prairiebreeze (Don't be afraid to see what you see. -- Ronald Reagan)
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To: NYer

Oh yeah, Bible stories written by LGBT and atheist liberal writers about the Old and New Testaments? What do they know about a book they condemn or haven;t read?


21 posted on 09/29/2012 2:42:34 PM PDT by MasterGunner01
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To: dandiegirl; Olog-hai
Are they doing this only to put a liberal spin on the Bible?

My thoughts exactly.

Actually, if you read through the entire article, you will learn that they recognize their past mistakes in interpreting the Bible (low revenue), and are now working with scripture scholars. We'll have to take a wait and see attitude.

22 posted on 09/29/2012 2:42:54 PM PDT by NYer (Without justice, what else is the State but a great band of robbers? - St. Augustine)
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To: Bryan24

David - a man’s Man.
- Handsome young musician, devout to God but seeds of courage
- courage against 9’ Goliath in the face of his country’s warriors and the enemy’s
- a HEALTHY NON-HOMO friendship with Jonathan closer than “the love of a woman”
- a young warrior with deathly envy of his best friend’s father Saul, the King
- A Warrior “Saul has slayed his 1000’s, but David his 10,000’s”
- Dancing in the streets in his underware before the daughters of Israel, to the chagrin of his soon-to-be-barren wife
- Acting crazy (doing a Mel Gibson) before enemy kings to protect himself
- The scandal as king, of seeing beautiful Bathsheba bath naked on a rooftop, covering it up with Uriah sent to the front lines and then exposed by Nathan the prophet
- The dysfunctionality of Absolom, his son, plotting his death
- The final years of wanting to build the greatest man-made Temple of Israel, and seeing Solomon, his son, succeed him

Now, if Hollywood can not distort any of the true accounts of above, I’d be pleasantly shocked. But what a story! I think that could fill 2 1/2 hours of a good action movie!


23 posted on 09/29/2012 2:44:17 PM PDT by time4good
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To: NYer

IOW, put a liberal spin on the Bible.


24 posted on 09/29/2012 2:47:40 PM PDT by Olog-hai
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To: NYer

Hollywood has learned that filming bits from the unholy koran can be dangerous.


25 posted on 09/29/2012 3:04:21 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (Obama likes to claim credit for getting Osama. Why hasn't he tried Khalid Sheikh Mohammed yet?)
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To: Olog-hai
Are they doing this only to put a liberal spin on the Bible?

Or to show how "outlandish" the stories are that "wacky Christians believe".

There have been an increasing number of films and plays about Mormonism.

But don't think about exposing Islam.

26 posted on 09/29/2012 3:06:58 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (Obama likes to claim credit for getting Osama. Why hasn't he tried Khalid Sheikh Mohammed yet?)
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To: NYer
“you will learn that they recognize their past mistakes in interpreting the Bible (low revenue), and are now working with scripture scholars. “

If they have actual Christians (and yes there some in Hollywood)/ or conservatives working on the films then I would be hopeful.
If they have normal “New Normal” types making these; then we all know how they will turn out.

27 posted on 09/29/2012 3:08:35 PM PDT by HereInTheHeartland (Encourage all of your Democrat friends to get out and vote on November 7th, the stakes are high.)
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To: NYer

“Noah” is going to lose a zillion dollars.

Big studio movies in the modern era based on the Bible always tank.

And don’t say Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” made bank. That wasn’t a studio movie. It was an independent film made by one guy with a vision.


28 posted on 09/29/2012 3:24:00 PM PDT by Blue Ink
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To: Kandy Atz
While most of the Bible stories have been told on film through the years, far too many have been so secularized and embellished they completely loose their impact.

Could you give a few examples of Biblical films which approached their subject from an embellished, secular viewpoint? I ask this out of some admitted ignorance on the subject, not being a Christian myself.

29 posted on 09/29/2012 3:59:30 PM PDT by Joseph Harrolds
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To: Cicero

I looked forward to Mel’s film on the Maccabees.

That would be a great movie.


30 posted on 09/29/2012 4:00:43 PM PDT by AliVeritas (God's will be done. Pray, Pray, Pray, Penance, Penance, Penance.)
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To: NYer
It is all about the money.

Their patrons are drying up because of the economy, and it is the frugal Christian who still has some. The only way to get us back into the theaters is by catering to our wishes, and that is a GOOD THING.

Now, it will only take one and if they mess this one up, we will not go to another.

31 posted on 09/29/2012 4:05:30 PM PDT by annieokie (O)
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To: a fool in paradise

I was kinda hoping to see the part where Mohammed
accepted the city’s surrender and then turned around
and slaughered all the men and raped and subjugated
all the women and children.

Probably several examples to choose from.


32 posted on 09/29/2012 4:07:31 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: NYer

Even Ted Turner cranked out many bible movies.


33 posted on 09/29/2012 4:08:29 PM PDT by AliVeritas (God's will be done. Pray, Pray, Pray, Penance, Penance, Penance.)
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To: Bryan24

“3. Esther - Beauty, brains, daring, treachery, this story has it all.”

Have you see A Night With The King? It came out a few years ago and is about Esther.


34 posted on 09/29/2012 4:09:53 PM PDT by ViLaLuz (2 Chronicles 7:14)
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To: annieokie
Besides all that, they have run out of topic's.

Only so many time you can show "jump in bed" the first 2 seconds, or some car careening down main street, up a guard rail, flip over 20 times, land on top of a semi and explode, taking the semi into the ocean, with the herion inside the trailer, OH, how will she get free, but she does cause there is another bedroom scene yet to come.

Seen one, seen em all.

35 posted on 09/29/2012 4:10:35 PM PDT by annieokie (O)
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To: NYer
Paramount is hoping "Noah" will connect with religious Americans who "may not necessarily go to more than one or two movies a year,"

One can only hope that they go for that audience, which is under-served, and don't try to sneak in any post-modernist non-sensibilities aimed at folks that won't go see the films anyway.

36 posted on 09/29/2012 4:12:56 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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To: TomGuy
Whaaaaa????? Russell Crowe as Noah?

Well, he was a Master and Commnder on the Far Side of the World...

37 posted on 09/29/2012 4:17:46 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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To: Bryan24

Good suggestions. I’d go see all of those, if they are faithful to the text.


38 posted on 09/29/2012 4:26:38 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic (Joe Biden is reported to be seeking asylum in a foreign country so he does not have to debate Ryan.)
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To: VanDeKoik

Not with Russell Crowe playing Noah. He might get into a couple of barfights, though.


39 posted on 09/29/2012 4:30:51 PM PDT by Barb4Bush (God bless Glenn Beck!)
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To: donna
In the movie The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Ingrid Bergman plays an English woman who goes to China as a missionary and opens an inn. She tells Bible stories to the Chinese as they eat. One day she is too busy to tell a story so one of the regulars (not a Christian) who has heard her many times steps in to tell a story while the people eat.

He turns Noah into a ship captain who comes to visit the Baby Jesus.

40 posted on 09/29/2012 4:37:40 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: time4good

They already did this movie with Richard Gere playing the part of David. They actually did a halfway decent job on the movie, but managed to make it rather boring somehow.


41 posted on 09/29/2012 5:14:57 PM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: Tanniker Smith

Hollywierd has done itself in with it’s “edgy” leftist culture/political war game...like the networks and media. They slaughtered American cultural morality, freedom ideology, inspiration and creativity and there goes the profit of their industry. They are stuck in that fabulous homo/slut sewer edge of life and they know it. The kind of people they attract makes for a minscule audience, insufficient to support the industry and pervert lifestyles.

At first, they were telling themselves that it was alright that they killed the US movie audience because they were international industry and hipsters outside the US would make up for what they were losing here. They know what they have done and they know making a few movies about the Bible won’t fix the art they deconstructed and vandalized. The international profit lie has caught up with them.

I’m not going to Hollywierd for hell’s take on the Bible. I want the amoral dark things out of business. They are a pox on the Americans and foreigners. The market is real. From the ashes of leftist hell maybe American movie making will be reborn someday.


42 posted on 09/29/2012 5:18:18 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: Joseph Harrolds

The Last Temptation of Christ wasn’t a big hit with Christians, although it used Jesus as the main character.


43 posted on 09/29/2012 5:27:10 PM PDT by ansel12
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To: SaraJohnson
Yes, but there are still businesspeople out there who occasionally discover that there's a huge market that they can make money from. They are capable of playing this straight, even if they always seem very reluctant to do so.

This could be one of those times. Otherwise, it will be a horrible bomb because there wouldn't be a market for this film except to the religious/spiritual crowd.

44 posted on 09/29/2012 5:43:42 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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To: ansel12
The Last Temptation of Christ wasn’t a big hit with Christians, although it used Jesus as the main character.

I've certainly heard of that one (I dimly recall the controversy over it at the time), but I've never seen it; I don't think I'd enjoy it. I like my Biblical epics to be old-school! You can have Passion of the Christ, give me Chuck Heston in The Ten Commandments instead!

45 posted on 09/29/2012 5:55:03 PM PDT by Joseph Harrolds
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To: VRWCmember

You’ve GOT to be kidding! Somehow I don’t think of Man’s Man (David) and Richard Gere in the same sentence. LOL!


46 posted on 09/29/2012 6:04:34 PM PDT by time4good
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To: Joseph Harrolds

Here are some excerpts from a review by the Washington Post.

“When we first see Him, Christ is a cross-maker, collaborating with the Romans in their persecution of the rebellious Israelites. His reason for this, He says, is to make God hate Him: “God loves Me and I can’t stand the pain.” And He goes as far in His efforts to alienate His Father as to hold the feet of the rebels as the nails are driven in and their blood spurts into His face.”

“In Willem Dafoe, Scorsese shows us a Christ who is more an anguished modern neurotic than a biblical figure, a sort of Hamlet, and seemingly unfit for the role of Messiah. And he invites us to think of Him as mad.

Fear, Christ says, rules Him, not holiness. He would rebel against God and give in to temptation if He weren’t such a coward.”

” Moving from village to village to pray and spread the message, He reaches out not in modulated, soft-spoken tones, but with a rabble-rousing fervor, like a flame-throwing tent revivalist. And we can’t help but feel a questioning twinge when, after a wedding, He boasts with wild eyes to a small gathering that He is the one they have been waiting for, that He is God.”

“Barbara Hershey’s Mary Magdalene is less believable; watching her, you find it hard to get past the tattoos etched into her skin or her mascara-blacked eyes.
Out of a green valley, Mary Magdalene approaches Him, dressed in white for their wedding, and afterward they make love.
Their lovemaking is explicit and sensual, but not pornographic or in any way prurient. It is the coupling of husband and wife, muzzily shot as a romantic interlude, and what this fantasy represents is the culmination of Christ’s dreams of normality,”


47 posted on 09/29/2012 6:09:38 PM PDT by ansel12
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To: Joseph Harrolds

It would take some time to recall all the incidents I have noticed, but one in particular I mentioned earlier was a made-for-TV film on Noah’s Ark. While Noah and his family were on the ark, and the earth supposedly flooded with water, there was a merchant on his own raft selling stuff. That is an extreme example of Bible movie “creativity.”

Lots of movies have more subtle examples such as the Nativity Story that added extra-Biblical scenes to “enhance” the story. One Night With The King, Esther’s story, added in a piece of jewelry that played a significant part in the final scene that plays no part in the narrative and really did not improve the story in any way.

There have been others that remove any supernatural or miraculous events, or simply remove God from the narrative completely. I’m drawing a blank on examples, but I know I have seen a few over the years. If you strip out God from the narrative, you have really have very little.

Ultimately, it has to be entertaining, so I expect some extra dialogue and scenes to carry the story. But don’t strip out the deeper truths or else you lose your primary audience.

IMHO, most of the Bible stories are significant and the characters quite interesting, needing little embellishment. And I would certainly recommend that these producers consult someone that has some Bible knowledge - or at least has read it once or twice, as a script consultant.

If you look at all the epic religious films in the 50s and 60s - Ten Commandments, The Robe, Samson and Delilah,The Bible, Solomon and Sheba - they gave the story some Hollywood spin, but did not destroy the narrative. And several are still quite watchable. Entertain, but don’t insult your Jewish and Christian audience.


48 posted on 09/29/2012 8:29:19 PM PDT by Kandy Atz ("Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want for bread.")
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To: ansel12

It sounds awful.  When I watch a Biblical epic, I want to see Salome doing the Dance of the Seven Veils, not Christ getting blood spattered on His face as He collaborates with the Romans to torture people!


49 posted on 09/30/2012 8:54:21 AM PDT by Joseph Harrolds
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To: Kandy Atz
I mentioned earlier was a made-for-TV film on Noah’s Ark. While Noah and his family were on the ark, and the earth supposedly flooded with water, there was a merchant on his own raft selling stuff. That is an extreme example of Bible movie “creativity.”

I watched it at the time.  That's 4 hours of my life I'm never getting back.  Terrible movie.  

There have been others that remove any supernatural or miraculous events, or simply remove God from the narrative completely. I’m drawing a blank on examples, but I know I have seen a few over the years. If you strip out God from the narrative, you have really have very little.

That reminds me of the recent movie, "Troy", in which all elements of the supernatural were removed.  I kept thinking, "Waitaminute...where's Ares?  Where's Athena?"  One should always respect the source material when doing an adaptation.

If you look at all the epic religious films in the 50s and 60s - Ten Commandments, The Robe, Samson and Delilah,The Bible, Solomon and Sheba - they gave the story some Hollywood spin, but did not destroy the narrative. And several are still quite watchable. Entertain, but don’t insult your Jewish and Christian audience.

I still enjoy watching the Old Testament films of the 50s.  The New Testament, not so much.  Exception:  Ben Hur.

50 posted on 09/30/2012 8:58:22 AM PDT by Joseph Harrolds
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