• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    The Story of Ruth comes to DVD

    I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how several Hebrew Bible films have been released on DVD in the run up to Easter. In particular, the boxed set of both Ten Commandments films marking the latter film's 50th Anniversary, and David and Bathsheba (1951). (I should really get one of those Amazon commission deals set up!). There are details about the DVD at DVDBeaver including some nice screen shots of the film. There are, however, few online reviews of the film, other than "customer reviews" the only review of any depth that seems to be around is the original New York Times review from 1960.

    The Story of Ruth is another Old Testament Film that I have never seen. It is also quite surprising that although there have been numerous films about Esther this is the only feature length film that I am aware of that is directly about Ruth. There is half hour claymation film Ruth (right) from the 1994 "Testament" series. This series covered nine biblical stories in a range of different animation styles from plasticine / claymation through to more traditional hand drawn animation. It was a collaboration between Russian and Welsh animators. The other entries in the series were: Creation/The Flood, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and Saul, Elijah, Daniel, and Jonah. All 9 were fairly standard re-tellings of the story, which never captured much excitement. That said the animation was superb and in many cases, particularly Ruth the result was quite moving.

    The only other film I know of which has examined this material is Amos Gitai's 1992 film Golem, l'esprit de l'exil (Golem, Spirit of the Exile) which makes the story into a modern day allegory about the Jewish mythical creature who personifies exile, with Ruth, Orpah and Naomi living in 1990s Paris. I'm only familiar with Gitai's Esther, but I've found a brief review of the film, and a pre-beard Peter Chattaway briefly mentions both Ruth films at the end of this page at Canadian Christianity and discusses it a bit more here.

    UPDATE: Another film about Ruth is the 1958 films Ruth: A Faithful Woman which I've now reviewed

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    • At 8:46 pm, March 21, 2006, Blogger crystal said…

      Hi Matt. There was an episode of the X-Files that featured a Golem ... more sad than scary.

    • At 6:01 am, March 22, 2006, Blogger Peter T Chattaway said…

      Glad you like the Ruth episode of Testament, Matt -- that's easily one of my favorites of that series. There's a definite maturity and artistry to that series that is missing from most Bible-story cartoons (e.g. Hanna-Barbera's "Greatest Adventures from the Bible", etc.).

    • At 9:30 am, March 22, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

      I never watched much X-Files, just a few episodes so I think I missed that one. Was that "Golem" related to the Jewish spirit character? I guess in terms of contemporary references most people see/hear Golem and think of Gollum from LOTR. I would guess his name is some form of derivation?

      As for Testament's Ruth. It was definitely one of the best in a good series. There are a couple of them I haven't seen, but there was something about the animation in Ruth which was so emotive. The whole series though, manages to make the subject matter accessible without having to resort to hokey techniques such as time machines (or whatever it is that happens in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons). BTW Can anyone watch them and not think of Scooby Doo?

    • At 7:17 pm, March 22, 2006, Blogger crystal said…

      Yes, the golem was related to the Jewish faith ... here's a link to the transcript of that episode, if you're interested - Kaddish

    • At 7:31 am, March 23, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Cool - thanks Crystal



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