• 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.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Acts of the Apostles (1957 - Living Bible ) Episodes 9 and 10

    OK, I did think I'd get this done by Friday, but time was not on my side and I only got halfway, so I decided to finish it and post it today and start discussion of Atti degli Apostoli later in the week. this is part of a series on the 10-part Acts of the Apostles episodes of The Living Bible (1957). The scene guide for these episodes is as follows:
    Episode 9 - Witness Before a King
    Intro - (Matt 5:10 cited)
    Jerusalem riots against Paul - (Acts 22:18-24)
    Paul avoids a flogging - (Acts 22:25-29)
    Paul before the High Priest - (Acts 22:30-23:11)
    Plot to Assassinate Paul - (Acts 23:12-24)
    Paul before Felix - (Acts 24:1-27)
    Paul, Festus and Agrippa - (Acts 25:13, 23-27; 26:9-30)
    Summary - (Is 55:10-11)

    Episode 10 - Triumphant
    Paul in Rome - (Acts 28:16-22)
    (Is 53:3-5 - quoted)
    Paul Teaching in Rome - (Acts 28:23-31)
    Extra-Biblical Episode
    (Eph 6:10-17 - dictated)
    (Col 3:1-3, 12-14 - read by Tychicus)
    (Phil 3:7-14; 4:8 - dictated)
    Extra-Biblical Episode
    (2 Tim 1:8-12; 4:8 - recited by Paul in Prison)
    There's a noticeable jump in the narrative between the end of episode 8 (Paul and Silas in Philippi - Acts 16) and the start of episode 9, where we find Paul caught in the middle of a riot in Jerusalem (Acts 22). This is made all the more obvious because the recap that starts most entries in the series recaps a story we've not yet been told. Sadly, it looks like some of the original episodes are missing. I say episodes because not only would you expect a series like this to have an even number of episodes, but also because up to this point the episodes have averaged 2 chapters per episode. Whilst Acts films often speed up towards the end it seems unlikely that one episode would cover 6 chapter in about 15 minutes. Alternatively, there could also be an episode or two missing between episodes 9 and 10 as there is another jump here. That said, the recap doesn't cover the episodes in Acts that are absent so it maybe just that they were left out.

    Episode 9 covers the part of Acts where Paul is slapped whilst being disrespectful to the high priest. I tend to think of this as Paul being sarcastic, whereas in this version Paul seems genuinely surprised that he is addressing the high priest. Whilst this culture obviously didn't have the advantage of photography, and wasn't quite as obsessed with fame as we are, I would still have thought that Paul would have known who the high priest was, particularly if he was dressed accordingly. That said he could have been absent for so long from Jerusalem that he genuinely didn't know who the high priest was any more.

    This episode contains the finest cut / edit of the whole series. Paul's journey from Caesarea is captured with a multiply overlaid dissolve. There are at least three aspects involved in it: the map, which the cut starts with; the face of Paul, also visible in the photo to the side; a group of horses pulling the chariot that Paul and some of his guard are situated in (not visible here; and, one of the wheels of the chariot spinning round. This piece of editing is a very efficient way of telling the story, and whilst overlaid maps are hardly startlingly original, here the various elements are woven together really well. It's a piece of film making well above the series par.

    The final episode begins as Paul arrives in Rome, but the script has little interest in the end of Acts as much as moving onto an examination of Paul's letters. In fact the end of the book of Acts arrives less than 4 minutes into the episode.

    Much of the rest of this episode consists of Paul dictating his letters, or them being read out by Paul's followers. The film does provide a few different ways of doing this. Paul's first piece of dictation is the end of Ephesians and we see him take his inspiration from the Roman soldier in front of him. The next section (from Colossians is read out by Tychicus in Colossae, as he delivers the letter on Paul's behalf. We then see Paul dictate part of Philippians to Aristarchus, and then an older Paul reciting the "fight the good fight" passage from the end of Timothy.

    The use of scribes is one of a few nice historical touches in this episode. Tychicus is not the only bearer of Paul's letters, Philemon also makes a brief appearance, and is given three letters to deliver. The three might have been more significant had Tychicus seem to have been given Colossians. Some scholars suggest that Philemon was responsible not only for taking the letter which bears his name, but also the letter to the Colossians and the (lost?) letter to the Laodiceans (Col 4:16). I did notice one historical error (I'm sure there were plenty of others). Paul's scribes tend to write on a modern style table rather than on their laps as would have been far more likely.

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