• 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, January 28, 2014

    Rei Davi [King David] (2012)

    Of all the films about David easily the most ambitious is Rei Davi. Indeed with 30 episodes and perhaps as much as 20 hours of footage it's probably the most ambitious project to film the Bible that has successfully been brought to fruition. The series was created by Brazilian company Rede Record, though is perhaps best known in the US for a run on the Spanish-language channel Mundofox as El Rey David.

    Whilst all of the episodes appear to be on both YouTube and Dailymotion only the first two episodes appear to be available with English subtitles. That's enough however to get a bit of a feel for the series.

    I mentioned in my review of the Greatest Heroes of the Bible's version of David and Goliath that one of the strengths of that version was how focussing on only one main incident made for an engaging narrative arc. This works for Rei Davi as well, only by covering one main incident in every episode it's able to maintain that narrative tension within that episode, but also be part of a broader coherent story which is able develop characters and sub-plots weaving together a grander tapestry than even a very long film can achieve.

    Focussing on one incident per episode really allows the stories to build up. Normally, for example, there's not much plot in David being anointed by Samuel (episode 1) or him being brought to play music for Saul (episode 2), but both episodes gradually build up the story and bring real interest to it. Episode 1 for example explores the tension's in Jesse's household, in a way that parallels the story of Jacob and Esau as well that of Joseph and his brothers. Eliab is the mighty warrior, beloved of his father, whilst Jesse scorns young David who is still very much under his mother's wing. David being anointed king does not sit well with either his brother or his father. Indeed there's a bit of a cliff hanger at the end of the second episode as Eliab is tempted to tell Saul that his new musician is actually the person who has been anointed as the future king.

    The production values seem reasonably high as well. There are a few special effects but generally they serve the needs of the story rather than feeling as forced as they do in some other Bible series. The costumes seem OK and whilst the filters aren't seem a little more basic that UK/US audiences are used to they don't detract from some good lighting and camera placings. And whilst the odd actor chews the scenery - most notably Gracindo Júnior as a raving mad King Saul - overall the performances are pretty decent.

    One particularly impressive performance is that of Leandro Léo as the young David who often manages to balance opposing emotions at the same time. His David blends confidence with humility. He's hurt by the way his father disregards him, but he refuses to be pushed into hatred, sulking or self pity. It gives a level of credibility to his later battle with Goliath - a nicely taught affair - where his unshakeable confidence never towers over his very reasonable fear.

    Hopefully the whole series will find itself translated sooner or later, whether on DVD or online, as I think it could easily become addictive viewing and there's plenty of evidence in these first two episodes to suggest it might well reward anyone who manages to put aside the 15 plus hours to watch it in its entirety.



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