• 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.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Samson and Delilah (1996) Scene Guide

    I recently watched Time Life’s Samson and Delilah from the Bible Collection. Curiously it’s the only film in the series to feature two names (that is unless one counts Creation and Flood. Both films are also the only ones that I’ve seen so far to utilise a narrator). Anyway, I’ll review it in a couple of days, but for now here’s the scene guide with a few comments.
    Part 1
    [Extra-biblical episodes]
    Birth of Samson Predicted - (Judges 13:1-5)
    Birth of Samson - (Judges 13:24)
    [Extra-biblical episodes]
    Samson Kills a lion - (Judges 14:5-6)
    [Extra-biblical episodes]
    Jawbone of an Ass - (Judges 15:9-17)
    [Extra-biblical episodes]
    Honey from the Lion - (Judges 14:8-9)
    [Extra-biblical episodes]
    The Girl from Timnah - (Judges 14:1-19)
    Burning if the fields & death of Samson’s Wife & Family - (Judges 15:3-6)

    Part 2
    [Extra-biblical episodes]
    Prostitute of Gaza - (Judges 16:1-3)
    Delilah agrees to trap Samson - (Judges 16:5)
    Samson falls for Delilah - (Judges 16:4)
    Samson tricks Delilah - (Judges 16:6-12)
    Delilah betrays Samson - (Judges 16:15-22)
    [Extra-biblical episodes]
    Death of Samson - (Judges 16:23-30)
    Burial of Samson - (Judges 16:31)
    Notes
    Given that this film shares its name with the famous DeMille film, it is worth asking whther this film is a remake of that film, or simply another, separate, re-telling which just happens to share that title. The evidence is not entirely straightforward. On the one hand, this version of the story contains almost all of the biblical material pertaining to Samson, whereas DeMillee's film omits the events leading up to his birth. It also presents some episodes out of order. That said there are a number of other similarities:
    * Both have an Israelite girl who loves Samson but who is too pious, faithful and dull for Samson to love back.
    * Both Israelite girls have a younger brother who idolises Samson and is to some extent his side kick
    * Both have Samson kill the lion in front of Delilah
    * Both show that lion-killing out of context
    * The actresses playing Delilah both bring with them a certain reputation which enhances her role
    * Neither film shows Samson using foxes to burn the Philistine fields
    So it would appear that this isn't really a remake - given the sparse amount of material available on Samson, the storylines are very different, as is the role of Delilah. But the infuence of DeMille's film on this one is undeniable

    As noted above, almost all of the biblical material is included in this film. The most notable exception is Manoah’s reaction to his wife’s visitation. The omission of this episode actually emphasises the similarities between the birth of Samson and the birth of Jesus, which is further highlighted by references to Samson as "Saviour of Israel".

    There are however, a number of small differences. One notable example is the burning of the Philistine fields following Samson’s aborted wedding. In the text Samson, bizarrely, catches 300 foxes ties them in pairs fastening a torch to each pair and releasing them in the fields. The film ignores this complicated detail, (which would have been difficult to get past the animal cruelty advisors anyway!), and simply has Samson burn the fields himself. This seems a more likely act of passionate vengeance, although the strangeness of the episode itself is perhaps the strongest evidence of its historicity. As a side note I found myself hearing Dan Brown’s voice in my head as I watched this scene, "X wondered how many Christians knew that the Firefox web browser got its name from this story"...

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