• 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.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Atti Degli Apostoli - Scene Analysis - Parts 9 and 10

    This is part of an ongoing series on the Roberto Rossellini series Acts of the Apostles (Atti Degli Apostoli). As the film was recently shown at the BFI in 3 sections (episodes 1-4, 5-8 and 9-10) I'm copying that structure in my scene analyses of the various episodes.
    Episode 9
    Arrival in Philippi - (Acts 16:11-13a)
    (Eph 6:12)
    Exorcism of the Fortune Telling Girl - (Acts 16:16-22)
    At Lydia's House - (Acts 16:13b-15)
    Paul and Silas released - (Acts 16:22-24, 35-40)
    Arrival at Athens - (Acts 17:14-17)
    (1 Cor 13:1-7)
    Paul preaches in Athens - (Acts 17:34)
    Paul in Corinth - (Acts 18:1-11)
    (Luke 6:20-28)

    Episode 10
    Paul sets off for Jerusalem - (Acts 20:22-38)
    Paul arrives in Jerusalem - (Acts 21:17-26)
    Paul arrested - (Acts 21:27-36; 22:24-30)
    Paul transferred to Caesarea - (Acts 23:23-35, 26:32)
    Paul before Festus and Herod - (Acts 25 & 26)
    Paul arrives in Rome - (Acts 28:14-16)
    Centurion Recaps the journey - (Acts 27:1-28:10)
    (Rom 11:11-32)
    (2 Tim 4)
    Episode 9 deals with two of the most famous parts of Paul's missionary journeys - the events in Philippi and Athens. The screenplay again plays around with the chronology of the events. Here Paul meets the fortune telling girl before he meets Lydia, and his arrest is told retrospectively whilst he is at Lydia's house (where he has found refuge after a night in jail). No mention is made of the the jailer or the earthquake that effected his conversion. It's also interesting how the disturbance concerning Paul and Silas is shown. At first not much seems to happen, but then the two are ambushed whilst within their own tent. The Athens scenes are far more conventional.

    There are a couple of particularly interesting moments in the dialogue. Firstly, this episode starts with a declaration that Caligula is now the new Roman emperor. Secondly, Paul encourages Lydia that she can do all he has done. This statement is made more plausible by the omission of the earthquake incident, but the radicalness of it within Paul's own time (and, arguably, his own practice) is easily lost to some of the modern audience.

    Both episodes also contain numerous words which are familiar from Paul's own letters. Strangely, the script has Paul in Athens trying out his famous passage on love from 1 Cor 13. There are also citations from Eph 6:12, Luke 6:20-28, Rom 11:11-32, and 2 Tim 4. Remarkably, this last quotation also appears in the final episode of that other ten part Acts of the Apostles series from the Living Bible. Both productions quote the "I have fought the good fight" verse (2 Tim 4:8). Yet, 2 Timothy is book about which there is considerable dispute about whether it was actually written by Paul.

    There are a number of other similarities between Atti and the Living Bible Series: Both cover the greatest proportion of Acts in their final two episodes, both go beyond the end of the book of Acts in order to round off the story of Paul, both show him dictating letters to his scribes whilst under house arrest.

    One thing this pair of episodes did well was stress how isolated Paul was from everything else that was going on with "The Way", and how unaware he was of his growing reputation. So in episode 9 we are introduced to a young Priscilla and Aquilla who have already heard of Paul, and also bring him news that Christianity has reached Rome. When Paul asks how it got there, they have to confess that no-one really knows for sure, although there is a rumour it was brought by Peter. The final episode finds Paul being greeted by Roman Christians on the Appian way well before his arrival in the city itself. On both cases Paul is pleasantly surprised at the spread of the gospel aside from his own work.

    I'll hopefully write a review for this series as a whole by the end of this week.

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