• 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


    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Abraham - Scene Guide

    Yesterday I posted a review for Abraham, having written a few initial thoughts on Monday. Anyone interested in a second opinion might want to read Peter Chattaway's review originally written for Christian Info. News, back in July 1996. Peter's got a better grasp of the history of that period than me, and so he's a little more critical of the historical errors he sees.

    Anyway, here is the scene guide for the film
    Part 1
    Extra-biblical episodes (loosely Genesis 11:26-32)
    Call of Abram - (Gen 12:1-3)
    Abram and Sarai leave Haran - (Gen 12:4)
    Extra-biblical episodes
    Altar built at Bethel - (Gen 12:7)
    Clash with the Amorites - (Gen 12:6)
    Famine in the land - (Gen 12:10)
    Sarai given to Pharaoh - (Gen 12:10-16)
    Extra-biblical episode
    Pharaoh falls ill and expels Abram - (Gen 12:17-20)
    Abram allied with Mamre the Amorite- (Gen 14:13b)
    Abram and Lot separate - (Gen 13:5-18)
    Lot captured - (Gen 14:11-12)

    Part 2
    Abram recounts Tower of Babel - (Gen 11:1-9)
    Abram rescues Lot - (Gen 14:13-16)
    Abram and the king of Sodom - (Gen 14:17)
    God's covenant with Abraham - (Gen 15:1-20)
    Abram and Melchizedek - (Gen 14:18-20)
    Hagar and Sarai - (Gen 16:1-16)
    Covanent of Circumcision - (Gen 17:1-27)
    The Three Visitors - (Gen 18:1-15)
    Abraham bargains for Sodom - (Gen 18:16-33)
    Sodom sins and is destroyed - (Gen 19:1-28)
    Birth of Isaac - (Gen 21:1-7)
    Hagar and Ishmael sent away - (Gen 21:8-14)
    Extra-biblical episode
    Hagar and Ishmael in the desert - (Gen 21:15-21)
    God tests Abraham - (Gen 22:1-19)

    A Few Notes
    It's noticeable that the film takes 50% of its runtime on just two and a half chapters (and even then only 2 verses from the half). By contrast the second half of the film covers seven and a half chapters worth of narrative.

    The only major incident not included in this film is that from Gen 20 where Abraham again tries to pass of Sarai as his sister. This may well be because some scholars consider this to be an alternative version of the same story. Such an interpretation certainly seems to make Abram's repeated disowning of his wife more understandable. That said, the differences are also significant - differences of location, the man in question, the way Abimelech hears from God rather than getting a disease first, and the way Abraham prays for Abimelech's wife and slave girls at the story's end. This last incident is one of my favourites in the whole story. Sarah is still without her own son, at this point, which must have pained both her and Abraham. Yet Abraham finds the strength to lay these feelings aside and pray for Abimelech's wife and slave girls that they would receive the miracle that has eluded Abraham and Sarah all these years. I wonder how many times Abraham must have prayed this prayer for his own wife?

    By contrast to it's exclusion of the Abimelech story, the film does include each of the occasions when God speaks to Abraham, even though there is some repetition here also.

    Finally, its interesting how the portrays the crimes of Sodom. these are first depicted early on after Abraham rescues Lot, when some sort of homosexuality is awkwardly displayed. This is repeated once the two angels visit the city. However, the crime itself, still seems to be the more likely scriptural interpretation of "attempted gang rape". In some ways, then, the film wants to have it's cake and eat it, neither offending the homosexual community by showing homosexual acts as the sin that condemns Sodom, whilst failing to remove the suggestion that homosexual acts were a part of the problem. Reading this on a deeper level, this resultant linking of homosexuality to gang rape is potentially far more offensive than either of those on its own. It's also interesting how the film shows Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salf (right). This is shown but receives very little comment. There's some subtle suggestion that what happens to Sodom is linked to volcanic activity, but this is never explicitly shown or stated.

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