• 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


    Friday, June 29, 2007

    Jesus Films Podcast Corrections!!


    Yesterday I was obviously having a dizzy day. Not only did I fail to post a link to the podcast to which was the whole reason for the post, but I also forgot to attach the audio file to the post at the Podcast site.

    I also forgot to link to the other entries in this podcast. And, as it happened, the rest of the day pretty much sucked as well. Oh well.

    Apologies to anyone who tried, in vain to find the MP3 yesterday. I'll try and be more on the ball next month!

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    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    Podcast: King of Kings (1961)

    It's reached that point in the month again where I post the latest entry in my Jesus Films Podcast. This month I'm looking at King of Kings (1961) directed by Nicholas Ray.

    Despite it's flaws it's one of my top ten Jesus Films, (although perhaps the least defensible selection) mainly down to some great visuals.

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    Did Edgar J. Banks make films with Cecil B. DeMille?

    Peter T. Chattaway has a piece on claims that Indiana Jones-style archaeologist Edgar J. Banks (right) made films with Cecil B. DeMille. (How that for a string of initialised middle names?).

    The story surfaced at The Villages Daily Sun paper in Florida. Here's the interesting bit:
    [Banks] made motion pictures with famed director Cecil B. DeMille

    "They were involved in a company known as Sacred Films," Wasilewska [Banks' biographer] said. "The films were not only 'Sacred,' they were secret. The company wasn’t registered anywhere. But it really did exist."

    That incredible claim is supported by about 200 old movie stills from sets of Biblical epics Banks’ late daughter, Daphne McLachlan, left to her children.

    "In 1920, at the beginning of moviemaking, a lot of people were making movies about Biblical events. But they were all poor-quality, low-budget productions," Wasilewska said. "This was very different. This was high-class, very professional. It was a secret company, but many important people were involved, including famous actors and actresses."

    What became of the films is one of many puzzles related to Banks. Banks’ next endeavor is also shrouded in mystery.

    "With the experience he got in California, he saw he could start a company in Florida to produce his own films," Wasilewska said. "He used local actors, and so it would not be very expensive."

    Banks’ company, Seminole Films, made movies depicting life in ancient Rome and Greece, but the world never saw the films. In a weird twist of irony, the archaeologist who brought so many treasures out of the ground, deposited his cinematic efforts into the earth.

    "He actually did make some movies, but none were released," Wasilewska said. "He opened this company and he couldn’t sell the movies he made, so one day he packed all of the movies in tin cans and buried them on his property."

    The movies were never recovered.
    I'll try and remember to check my DeMille biography and auto-biography to see if there is any mention of Banks. I may also check the credits for DeMille's 1923 version of The Ten Commandments to see if Banks is mentioned there at all.

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    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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    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Opening Reviews for Evan Almighty

    Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to review Evan Almighty until nearer the 3rd August (when it comes out in the UK, I believe). A couple of Christian periodicals over here have started to crank up their hype machines in preparation for the film's release. However, perhaps significantly, Rich Cline's excellent film column for Idea magazine doesn't happen to mention it.

    I won't quote all the leading reviewers on this film as I figure most people know how to visit Rotten Tomatoes to find out exactly why the tomatometer is right down at 20%. And in case you're wondering what the Christian Press has to say about a movie squarely aimed at them then you need go no further than Jeffrey Overstreet's Film Forum (at his Looking Closer blog) where the various reviewers quoted seem slightly happier with the film than their secular colleagues.

    Finally, for those wanting to read more about the film, Christianity Today, who give the film 3.5 stars out of a possible 4, have interviews with director Tom Shadyac, and the cast as well as Peter Chattaway's piece on A.r.k. Almighty - a tie in with the film promoting acts of random kindness.

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    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Atti Degli Apostoli - Scene Analysis - Parts 5 to 8

    This is part of an ongoing series on the Roberto Rossellini series Acts of the Apostles (Atti Degli Apostoli). As the film was shown 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 5
    Peter goes to Joppa – (Acts 9:43)
    Cornellius and Peter – (Acts 10:1-48)
    Peter Reports to the 12 – (Acts 11:1-18)
    Paul and Barnabas return to Jerusalem - (Acts 11:29-30)

    Episode 6
    [Extra Biblical Episode – Riot due to Famine]
    Death of James – (Acts 12:1-2)
    Peter's Miraculous Escape Recounted – (Acts 12:3-11)
    More of Jesus's Teaching – (John 14:16-19, 15:18-20)
    The Disciples Scatter – (Acts 12:17, 24)
    Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch – (Acts 12:25)
    Teaching In Antioch - (Acts 7:2-5, Rom 9:25/Hos 2:23)
    Antioch Christians Fast – (Acts 13:1-2a, Matt 6:6, 16-18)
    Paul and Barnabas Sent Out – (Acts 13:2-3)

    Episode 7
    From Antioch to Pisidian Antioch - (Acts 13:4-6, 13-14)
    In Pisidian - (Acts 13:14-52, Ex 15:3-6, 1 Cor 15:20-25, Ps 22, Is 11:6, )
    Return to Antioch - (Acts 14:21-28)
    Judaisers arrive in Antioch – (Acts 15:1-2)
    Paul on the Jews and Gentiles - (Eph 2:11-19)

    Episode 8
    Council of Jerusalem – (Acts 15:3-30)
    As with the opening episodes these episodes continue to downplay the more dramatic events of the book of Acts. So here we're shown neither Peter's vision of the animals in the bed sheet, nor his escape from prison. That's not to say that the film denies them either. As with earlier examples of the supernatural, the events are reported and accepted by those that hear them.

    The effects of this technique are three-fold. Firstly, it draws attention to those events precisely because it downplays them. When James is arrested the audience is expecting Peter's arrest to follow. But Rossellini catches us unawares, and in so doing makes those over familar with the story re-consider it. Secondly it puts these events where they belong in the realm of faith. The ambiguity Rossellini gives these scenes means that the viewer interacts with them and brings their own interpretation to the experience of watching the film. Finally, it means the story reaches the viewer as it has reached most of those who have heard it over the centuries - by hearing it from someone else, rather than seeing it. In the original story only Peter experiences these events. Even the first Christians have to decide whether they accept or reject his testimony.

    One of the most striking scene of the whole film for me was when Peter decides to go to Joppa. Ironically, it stands out because actor Jacques Dumur underplays it. This lends a sense of mystery and conviction to the moment. He announces his decision and moves to implement it almost as if in a trance. It also stands out because the dangerous nature of the decision Peter makes is completely opposite to the self-preservation instinct that seems to be ensnaring the other disciples.

    I looked at how the different film makers portrayed the visits of Paul to Jerusalem and concluded that "none of these films support the minority conservative chronology (that equates Gal. 1 with Acts 9, and Gal 2 with Acts 11)". In fact this is what this film appears to do. Whilst Paul's first meeting is not shown he has clearly visited Jerusalem to meet Christians there before the events of episode 6. The Council of Jerusalem in episode 7 is therefore his third visit to Jerusalem since his conversion.

    In September last yearEpisode 7 devotes a significant amount of time to Paul and Barnabas' trip to Antioch in Pisidian. It's interesting that the film spends so long on this location as it is usually downplayed in favour of Paul's later journeys. Here it takes almost as much time as the Council of Jerusalem in episode 8. The events at Pisidian are very delicately balanced in terms of the Jewish - Christian debate. Paul is invited to speak, and whilst his oration is compelling, it feels a little bit forced and out of place, almost as if Paul has taken advantage of his hosts. The objections of the rabbi in the synagogue ("Can you say the wolf now lies down with the lamb?") seem very reasonable. The thrust of the narrative balances out these objections, but they are never convincingly defused.

    The last of these episodes in almost entirely taken up with the Council of Jerusalem. Strangely this doesn't occur in Jerusalem itself, but somewhere in the countryside surrounding it, and outside. The film often locates the disciples close to nature and this is one such example. The discussions continue for a last time, and whilst James is set up to adjudicate, he clearly doesn't carry the authority or importance of Peter, John or Paul.

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    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    The Flood in Fantasia 2000

    I'm discussing a number of films about Noah to tie in with the release of Evan Almighty (tomorrow in the US). Disney has produced three short films on the subject, Father Noah's Ark (1933), Noah's Ark (1959) and the Pomp and Circumstance section from Fantasia 2000 (1999).

    In addition to the basic subject matter, Pomp and Circumstance has a good deal in common with the 1933 film. Both were created using traditional hand-drawn animation, both sequences run to about 8 minutes, both rely heavily on their images to carry the story, and both inject gentle humour into the proceedings. In some ways, however, this is a more poignant look at the flood than its predecessor, and so it sacrifices some of the original film's visual jokes in order to include a sub plot of separation, loss and reunification.

    The sub plot, such as it is, features Donald Duck, carrying forward the themes of the famous Mickey Mouse Fantasia sequence. Both sequences feature a lazy assistant almost losing that which they hold dear to a supernatural, watery, catastrophe. Donald's job is to count the pairs of animals entering the ark, and he is so caught up in his task that he realises too late that the one person he has not ticked off his list is his own partner. Introducing this touching story makes the story more personal and accessible, and draws viewers into the story in a way that the original never could.

    It also brings in the suggestion of peril which was so absent from the original. Whilst neither short really goes into the myth's darker side, this film does at least tacitly acknowledge it, even if it relies on viewers bringing with them some prior knowledge of the story.

    All of this is, of course, accompanied by some of Edward Elgar's finest music, and the animation is superbly tied into the music's variations of rhythm and intensity.


    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Atti Degli Apostoli - Scene Analysis - Parts 1 to 4

    As I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to start my discussion of this film by analysing the different episodes (which I'll do over three posts) and then I'll finish by writing a review. I was unable to capture the individual titles of each episode. Gospel citations are as per my usual procedure.
    Episode 1
    [extra-biblical episode - Background to the story]
    Recap of Crucifixion – (Mark 14:1-25)
    The Disciples Gather - (Acts 1:13-14)
    Recap of the Ascension - (Acts 1:3-12)
    Recap of Death of Judas – (Acts 1:15-20, Matt 27:3-7)
    Election of Matthias - (Acts 1:21-26)
    Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost - (Acts 2:1-41)

    (Episode 2)
    Peter and John heal a Crippled Beggar – (Acts 3:1-10)
    Peter Speaks to the Crowd - (Acts 3:11-26)
    Peter and John Arrested - (Acts 4:1-14)
    Caiaphas and Annas Decide to Release Peter and John - (Acts 4:15-22)
    Disciples Pray - (Acts 4:23-31)
    Jesus's Teaching Recalled - (John 15:18-21, Matt 10:29-31; Matt 18:20 / Thom 30)
    Disciples Share Communion - (1 Cor 11:23-26)

    Episode 3
    Deaths of Ananias and Sapphira Recounted - (Acts 5:1-11)
    Recap of Jesus giving Lord's prayer - (Matt 6:6-15)
    Recap of the Woman at the Well - (John 4:1-42)
    The Father's testimony about Jesus Recalled - (John 8:13-19)
    [extra-biblical episode]
    Peter and John Re-arrested - (Acts 5:21-41)
    Recount of Jesus's Trial Before Sanhedrin - (Mark 14:53-64)
    [extra-biblical episodes]
    (Luke 10:3)
    Appointment of the 7 Servants - (Acts 6:1-7)

    Episode 4
    Arrest, Trial and Death of Stephen - (Acts 6:8-8:1a, Mark 2:27))
    Church is Persecuted - (Acts 8:1b-3, John 16:33)
    Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch - (Acts 8:26-38)
    Saul Gets Permission to Capture Christians - (Acts 8:1b-3)
    Conversion of Saul - (Acts 9:1-19, Acts 2:34-36)
    Escape from Damascus - (Acts 9:20-25)
    (The even numbered episodes are shown in brackets as the title cards were cut out to enable the two episodes to be "neatly" spliced together. It was generally obvious where one part finish and the next one started, but there is a certain amount of guess work involved. I should add that some releases of this film appear to have been in hour long segments anyway).

    Roughly two thirds of the first episode is a conversation between two fictional characters who disappear from the story at the start of episode 2 never to be seen again. A Greek slave shows a Roman official around Jerusalem and gives him (and us) and detailed historical background to the city of Jerusalem and recent events. This is actually a common part of Rossellini's style, particularly during his historical film period. It's an unusual technique, but feels less forced than in many other films where the scriptwriter tries to shoehorn historical information into casual conversations. Whilst this technique is not particularly realistic it does enable the construction of a robust historical framework for the story that follows.

    That said narration is very common technique in this production. The disciples frequently recount events from their time with Jesus. There are some particularly interesting touched here. John, for example, quotes Jesus fairly often, always using words from the gospel which took his name. We also hear Thomas reciting Jesus's saying "where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name I am there also". This is the canonical version of this promise, which is also included, albeit slightly differently, in the Gospel of Thomas (saying 30). "Where there are two or one, I am with him".

    Another notable example of this is in the first conversation we hear between the disciples based on Acts 1:15-26. Here the death of Judas is discussed, and interestingly the film tries to merge the divergent accounts of Matthew and Luke (Matt 27:3-7, Acts 1:15-20). Judas buys the field (as per Acts), but is credited as killing himself (as per Matthew).

    There are also numerous examples when the disciples gather - something that occurs frequently in this version of the story. In particular, episode 2 features the disciples gathering after the events of Pentecost and the healing of the crippled beggar, and sharing communion for what appears to be the first time since Jesus's ascension. Jesus teaching is cited on several occasions, by various disciples. Much of episode 3 is similar.

    Episode 4 opens with the arrest of Stephen who is seized not for being a Christian, or because of his superior debating skills, but because he is working on the Sabbath. His stoning is shown in a long shot with Stephen in the foreground, but his executioners included in the shot. In some ways the shot is detached from any particular point of view. Yet it also implicates us in the action and is most closely associated with the perspective of the other non-participant in the action - Saul (especially as we will increasingly share his perspective from this point in).

    At the same time we are on the same level as Stephen, and distanced from his killers. There are so many ways this scene could have been shot, for example with heavy editing like the shower scene in Psycho that the choice of this realistic manner speaks volumes, particularly about the culpability of those who see but fails to act. Stephen's body is subsequently hung upside down from a tree.

    The rest of this episode covers the resulting persecution of the Christians under Saul and his subsequent conversion. Saul's vision on the road to Damascus is filmed very ambiguously. There is a flash of lightning, a close up of Saul and then a shot of him being carried by his (former) cohorts. We see no vision and hear no voice. Whilst this could be seen as demythologising it actually only reflects the ambiguity of all three accounts found in Acts. The light is visible to all, but only Paul hears and understands the voice. Again Rossellini places his audience in the place of the neutral observer rather than the protagonist.

    A similar approach was used for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The camera is not amongst the disciples at the crucial moment, but on the street surrounded by the general populace. There is a flash of darkness and then the disciples rush out. Their behaviour suggests a radical change, but the extent to which any tongues of fire would have been visible to a neutral observer is left to interpretation.

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    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Back from Acts of the Apostles

    I got back at 1:00am this morning from yesterday's screening of Roberto Rossellini's Atti Degli Apostoli (Acts of the Apostles), which ran from 4:00 to 9:35 last night in London's National Film Theatre. There was a fairly good crowd, perhaps 30 or so of us in total. We watched the equivalent of 4 episodes, and then had a half hour break, watched four more, had another break, and then watched the final two episodes. (I should note that this seems to have been released both in 10 half hour episodes and in 5 hour long episodes. We were watching the 10 episode version, although the film stock had been spliced to join the episodes in pairs.

    I'm going to post my proper reflections over the next week or two probably starting by looking at the scenes in the same chunks the film was presented in, and end it with a review.

    A couple of initial reflections for now. Firstly, I was surprised that the film was in colour, hence the colour picture above. I'd assumed that it would be in black and white, (no doubt because the majority of pictures I'd seen from this film, as well as the majority of the Rossellini films which I've seen, are black and white). Whilst I did find the above image a while ago, I'd just put it down to someone colouring it in (as they have done with my special edition cover for The Hustler, or for the entirety of Pasolini's Gospel according to St. Matthew - story here).

    Secondly, I was also disappointed to find out that it was dubbed. I hate dubbed films, it tends to totally ruin them, and is a level of detachment from the original version that seems to go too far. Whilst this was no exception, I'm guessing that there simply is no English subtitled print of the film. Certainly the BFI rep apologised for the condition of the print before we started, and assured us it was the best one available. I'll settle for that in the circumstances, but I do long for a cleaned up, subtitled version of the DVD some day. I have just discovered an Italian (only) VHS of this film is available.

    Finally, the title cards called this a special catechical version of the film, which may explain why it was shorter than some versions. Both Guarner's account of this film, and a conversation I overheard suggested a longer version is available. I'm not entirely convinced. Not a great deal was left out - at least not that would account for this. I guess the designation as "catechical" suggests it was used in religious education and the like.

    One further thing to add. I also got to visit the Sacred exhibition at the British Library where I pop by occasionally on my trips to London. I plan to write on this at some later point as well.

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    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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    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Dante's Inferno with Animated Cardbaord Cut Outs

    Jeffrey Overstreet alerted me to an interesting story at Twitch. Sean Meredith, Paul Zaloom and Sandow Birk are bringing an animated version of "Dante's Inferno" to the screen using cardboard cut outs. There's plenty of information about the film at the handsome official website, including the following description:
    Melding the seemingly disparate traditions of apocalyptic live-action graphic novel and charming Victoria-era toy theater, Dante’s Inferno is a subversive, darkly satirical update of the original 14th century literary classic. Retold with the use of intricately hand-drawn paper puppets and miniature sets, and without the use of CGI effects, this unusual travelogue takes viewers on a tour of hell. And what we find there, looks a lot like the modern world.

    Sporting a hoodie and a hang-over from the previous night’s debauchery, Dante (voiced by Dermot Mulroney) wakes to find he is lost — physically and metaphorically — in a strange part of town. He asks the first guy he sees for some help: The ancient Roman poet Virgil (voiced by James Cromwell), wearing a mullet and what looks like a brown bathrobe. Having no one else to turn to, Dante’s quickly convinced that his only means for survival is to follow Virgil voyage down, down through the depths of Hell.

    The pair cross into the underworld and there Virgil shows Dante the underbelly of the Inferno, which closely resembles the decayed landscape of modern urban life. Dante and Virgil’s chronicles are set against a familiar backdrop of used car lots, strip malls, gated communities, airport security checks, and the U.S. Capitol. Here, hot tubs simmer with sinners, and the river Styx is engorged with sewage swimmers.
    It sounds very interesting. I do have one major concern at this point, however. Wouldn't the paper puppets burn rather easily?


    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Noah's Ark (1928) - Review

    Noah's Ark came at the end of two distinctly different eras in the cinema. Firstly the age of the silent movie was drawing to a close. The Jazz Singer had opened everyone's eyes to the potential of talking pictures and both cinemas and studios alike were making the necessary changes to take advantage of the new technology.

    In the meantime studios were stuck with the problem of what to do with half finished films which had been, thus far, shot as silents, but risked being seen as outmoded unless drastic action was taken. The solution that many studios took was to complete some of the remaining scenes with sound so that the films were part silent but also part talking. Hitchcock's The Lodger, where only the opening sequence is silent, is one famous example, particularly because it's so innovative with its use of sound.

    In Noah's Ark, however, sound occurs more haphazardly. Characters talk, but then go back to miming again moments later. The soundtrack takes advantage of the new technology more effectively using sound effects to complement the action to good effect.

    It was also the end of the first golden age of the biblical epic, which, despite the popularity of bible based films since the dawn of cinema, had peaked during the 1920s. The director of Noah's Ark, Michael Curtiz, had already made his name with a string of biblical films including Sodom und Gomorrah, Samson und Delila1 (both 1922) and Die Sklavenkönigin (The Moon of Israel - 1924). The following year DeMille's The Ten Commandments had been a huge success and the great showman has followed it up four years later with his version of the life of Jesus in The King of Kings.

    DeMille's movies, as well as others such as Ben Hur (1925) set new benchmarks for production scale, and Noah's Ark certainly follows suit. The size of some of the sets, and the impressive special effects are truly awesome. The scenes of the flood, complete with a storm and torrents of water appearing from nowhere, are truly impressive. Tragically the quest for drama went too far and several extras were drowned during the filming of these scenes.

    The problem with the ever-growing spectacle of the biblical epics was that the depression was just around the corner - something that, bizarrely, this film seems to predict. The combination of reduced cash flow, and the birth of the Hays Production Code brought the end to the first golden age of the biblical epic. The trend would not really get going again until the 1950s. By then Curtiz had moved into more film making including now classic films such as Casablanca and White Christmas.

    It's actually the modern story which is overarching in this film. Whilst there is a brief prologue which features footage of Noah, a statue of Jesus and a montage of stock market clips, the story proper starts in 1914. In the first of the film's three catastrophes, a train carrying the major characters crashes and a young, blond German girl (Mary) is pulled from the wreckage by buddies Travis and Al. Travis and Mary fall instantly in love, but their relationship is threatened by the outbreak of the first world war and a Russian spy who had also been aboard the train. Despite getting married the couple are separated due to the war, and are not reunited until Mary finds herself in front of Travis' firing squad. An explosion intervenes and leaves the couple trapped by the rubble along with an old preacher who tells them the story of Noah.

    This then forms the context for the Noah story. The actors from the first part of the film take similar roles in the Noah story (à la The Wizard of Oz): so Noah is played by the same actor as the old preacher; Travis and Al pair up with Japheth and Ham; Mary doubles as Japheth's sweetheart, Miriam; and the Russian spy is the evil, idol-worshipping King Nephilim. The minor actors also double up in a similar fashion.

    However, the story of Noah is just a pretext for a re-run of the Travis-Mary story. Miriam is chosen at random to be sacrificed to King Nephilim's God Jaguth. When Japheth comes to her rescue he is enslaved only to be freed by the arrival of the flood. Once the pair are safely aboard the ark, the script reverts, almost immediately, to the end of the modern story.

    It's difficult to know quite how much Curtiz was influenced by DeMille and vice versa. Around the early 1920s both men borrowed D.W. Griffith's idea of paralleling a biblical story with a modern melodrama. Curtiz's Sodom und Gomorrah and Samson und Delila seem to have come out slightly before DeMille's The Ten Commandments, but Curtiz's Moses film
    Die Sklavenkönigin (The Moon of Israel) definitely came out afterwards. But given the time taken to film such large scale films, and that the two men were working in different continents at the time it's certainly possible that the two were almost completely unaware of what the other was doing.

    What is clear, however, is the way in which Curtiz draws on aspects of all three of these previous films in making Noah's Ark. There are a myriad of visual and textual references to other biblical stories, especially those he had already filmed, as well as some to the story of Jesus. So there are people crushed under golden calves, climbing up mountains, burning bushes, lightning writing on tablets, people being blinded and forced to drive a mill, falling temples, water falling lava like from above engulfing those in its path, stabbings in the side, references to Golgotha, and words taken from the Lord's prayer.

    Unfortunately, in the midst of all these biblical references the actual story of Noah is lost. The old preacher's story gets so taken up in pagan temples, dramatic floods, and the love between the protagonists that it's unlikely it helped those he'd sought to illuminate. The film never gets behind the character of Noah and has precious little to say about the events that occurred once everyone was on board.

    It's a shame because some of the film's sequences are incredibly well executed. In particular the scene where the animals rush towards the ark, capturing the urgency and the chaos of the scene is masterful. DeMille would have shown animals marching in in precise double file. Here Curtiz is more than happy to adhere a little more loosely to a literal reading. This makes the scene far more natural and realistic, as well as putting it in line with idea of the animals being sent by God rather than gathered by Noah.

    Unfortunately the film's weakness detract from such merits. The modern story is mediocre and overly melodramatic, whereas the Noah episode gets lost in its own technical proficiency. It was the last time Curtiz made a biblical epic, and the last time a film solely about Noah made it onto the silver screen.

    1 - The extent to which Curtiz was involved in Samson und Delila is unclear some sources list him as only the costume designer, whereas others list him as supervising director and credit him with the film's success.

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    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Acts of the Apostles (1957 - Living Bible ) Episodes 7 and 8

    It's time for some more coverage of the Acts of the Apostles episodes of The Living Bible (1957). This will be the penultimate post about this ten part series, and I'll hopefully post the last one later this week before I go to see Roberto Rossellini's Atti Degli Apostoli on Sunday. Here is the scene guide for these episodes:
    Episode 7 - Salvation and Christian Fellowship
    Recap of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-36, 41)
    Judaisers arrive in Antioch (Acts 15:1-2)
    Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:3-12)
    Recap of Trip to Lystra (Acts 14:8-20)
    James’s Speech (Acts 15:13-21)

    Episode 8 - What Must I do to be Saved?
    Paul and Timothy - (Acts 16:1-5, 2 Tim 1:5-6)
    Troas and the Macedonian Man - (Acts 16:6-10)
    Philippi and Lydia - (Acts 16:11-15; 26:12-18)
    Paul and the Slave Girl - (Acts 16:16-19)
    Paul and Silas in Prison - (Acts 16:20-34, Ps. 27:1-2)
    Having gone off on a tangent in episode 6 we rejoin the main story in the run up to the Council of Jerusalem. As I noted in my post on portrayals of this council in film "the film appears to support aligning Gal 2:11-16 with events leading up to the council (Acts 15:1-2) rather than following it as the Galatian letter suggests". Initially, the council is a public affair, but halfway through proceedings move to a more private room enabling the script to also incorporate Gal 2:2.

    In fact the whole of episode 6 takes a very positive approach to the whole council. The final decision is described as that of the majority rather than that of James as Acts describes. The letter that is sent out is then described as a "happy solution" and "wonderfully friendly and frank". Whilst this certainly captures the way the letter is written in Acts it skims over other issues that suggest the letter didn't solve all that Luke's account would have us believe.

    Another interesting distinction is the way in which the commentary describes the Judaisers as rejecting salvation by faith. Being made in 1958 this series obviously pre-dates the new perspective on Paul, and whilst some people would still reject the work of Sanders et al. even they would have to concede that this idea is inferred rather than an inherent part of the text.

    The other significant thing about the dating of this series relates to the summary at the end of this episode which notes that "religious and racial barriers were dealt a crushing blow... some day perhaps all barriers between men would topple under the irresistible power of the gospel and God's love". Obviously this pre-dates and, therefore, anticipates the civil rights movement of the following decade.

    The eighth episode solely concerns Acts 16, beginning with Timothy joining Paul and Silas. It's noticeable that the scripts circumvents the dispute and separation of Paul from his previous travelling companion Barnabas that is found at the end of chapter 15. We are simply not told why Paul is now travelling with Silas rather than Barnabas. Timothy is introduced, and the narrator also mentions that it is often understood that Luke joined Paul at this point also - inferred from the narrator's switch from the third person to the first in the text. It's noticeable, however, that Luke is not shown on screen in this episode.

    Following on from the recruitment of Timothy we witness Paul's vision of the Macedonian man. This is shot by focussing on Paul and his reaction rather than on the vision itself. Whilst this was no doubt a budgetary consideration it does capture the most important point about this vision, namely that it's significance lay in Paul's reaction to it. That said, we do hear the voice of the Macedonian man who, rather unimaginatively, repeats the words from Acts 16:9, "Come over to Macedonia and help us" three times. Lest the audience forgets what the man's message was, Paul repeats it for us again in explainning his vision to Silas.

    The trope then move on to Philippi where they encounter Lydia and her friends, free the fortune telling girl, get thrown in prison, get freed by an earthquake and convert the jailer. But the story stops before it gets onto Paul citing his Roman citizenship to obtain a personal audience with the city's magistrates. These ares fairly dramatic episodes, but the producers wisely avoid letting the demonised girl ham it up. There is also a heavy emphasis on the strong performance of the jailer. His transformation from jaded captor to new convert is one of the series' finest pieces of acting, marred only by knowing the ending in advance and the script's lack of character development.

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    Peter Chattaway on Noah's Ark (1928)

    Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to post on some of the film portrayals of Noah in the run up to the release of Evan Almighty. One of the film's I plan to cover later this week is Michael Curtiz's 1928 film Noah's Ark.

    Anyone eager to find out about that particular film may be interested to read Peter Chattaway's observations on it which he posted yesterday. In particular he notes the similarities with DeMille's 1923 film The Ten Commandments. There are a few clips from it as well which will fascinate anyone who has longed to see this film.

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    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Father Noah's Ark (1933)

    Evan Almighty is being released at the end of this month in the US (22nd June), although not until the 3rd August here in the UK. Just in case some people have heard about this film yet, it's the sequel to Bruce Almighty, and, according to the trailer at least, Bruce's nemesis from the first film, Evan Baxter, is commissioned by God to build an ark.

    It's obvious from the trailer that this will very much be a modern re-telling of the Noah story, with a few ideas borrowed from other films including the original and The Santa Clause. Given the official website is also encouragin people to give money to plant trees, I suppose I may be able to add An Inconvenient Truth to that list. We will have to see whether the flood is divine or human in origin.

    As a result, I thought it would be a good idea to run a series of posts looking at films featuring Noah. I have previously written an article on films based on Genesis, but I plan here to touch on some films I didn't cover in that article, and to re-visit some of the others in more detail. I've been aided in my quest by a friend who has very kindly passed me a couple of films about Noah that I'd not had the chance to see previously, one of which I'm going to talk about in the remainder of this post.


    Father Noah's Ark is an 8 minute animated short by Disney using human characters to play Noah and his family. The only dialogue occurs in a couple of brief choruses so the narrative relies heavily on the visuals. That said, those who are unfamiliar with the story would struggle to really understand what is going. When this was released almost 75 years ago, the film-makers perhaps thought they could rely on the audience's biblical literacy to fill in the gaps. I can't help but wonder what proportion of people would watch this today without really grasping what was going on.

    I found it interesting that Noah's sons Shem, Ham and Japheth had blond, dark and red hair respectively. I do recall some tradition about Japheth having red hair, but I haven't found any reference to it on the internet so far. Japheth is, however, often referred to as being the father of Europeans. Noah's daughters-in-law also had the same colour hair as their husbands. I suppose it would make it easy to keep tabs on the grandchildren!

    I also noticed how Noah's red coat, jolly disposition, size and big white beard made him look fairly similar to Father Christmas (FWIW the story that Santa Claus' red suit came about because of a Coke ad campaign is an urban myth). This would, no doubt, make the cartoon more appealing to children, and throws up a couple of interesting associations.

    The film itself is very enjoyable. There are a host of visual jokes, especially in the way that traits of various animals are used in building the ark. So a hippopotamus bites holes in wood, a trail of hedgehogs form a conveyor belt etc. did feel sorry for some of the animals who seemed to be happily giving their labour blissfully unaware that only two of their kind would actually make it onto the ark.

    Overall this is an enjoyable telling of the story. and particularly suitable for children. By relying so heavily on the visuals and omitting to show humans who are not part of Noah's family, the story is particularly child friendly, although I would have thought that all ages will enjoy the film's inventive humour.

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    Friday, June 08, 2007

    First Reviews for Not the Messiah

    It's my daughter's first birthday today, so I hope regular readers won't mind if I go home early to play with her. Fortunately Peter Chattaway has collated a number of reviews of Eric Idle's oratorio Not the Messiah. It sounds like it's more good than bad, especially for Python fans.


    Thursday, June 07, 2007

    New, Unrated Trailer for The Ten

    There's a new trailer for The Ten available on the official website. I should probably warn you, however, that anyone who is easily offended might not want to watch it. It certainly won't be passed as a PG if, and when, it gets rated. That said it's a good piece of work. There are a few funny lines and the camera work, cinematography etc. all look way above par for an indie comedy. The original teaser trailer can be downloaded from YouTube.

    There's also an brief photo piece on the cast and crew from March's Premiere, and brief references to it in a longer Premiere interview with Wain, Rudd and Marino. Finally there's an interview with director David Wain in this month's Mean Magazine. You have to buy the actual magazine to read it, but there is a collection of "intimate" photos available from the website.

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    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Viaggio in Italia, Illibatezza and Roma Città Aperta

    In preparation for seeing Atti Degli Apostoli later this month, I've been (re-)examining some of Rossellini's other films. I've now watched four in the last week, including and having recorded my thought on Il Messia in last month's podcast I'd now like to make a few comments about the other three.

    Viaggio in Italia - 1953
    The first film of the trio was 1953's Viaggio in Italia starring Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders as an unhappy married couple. The film opens with shots out of their car window. This gives the film a sense of immediacy such that it feels like the film had been playing for some time before we tuned in. Of course in the story of this couple's life, this is exactly what has happened. As the film settles down, it becomes clear that the marriage is starting to unravel, neither seemingly able to take the steps to bring about the necessary reconciliation.

    Finally, after a short time apart (the whole film occurs in less than a week), they agree to get a divorce but are interrupted before the conversation reaches its natural conclusion. In the final scene whilst attempting to escape from the surroundings that have seemingly oppressed them so much during their stay, they are forced to abandon the car in the midst of a crowd. But once in the midst of the throng of people, Bergman is swept away and looks back in desperation towards her husband. He forces his way through to "save" her and the two are reunited and declare their love for each other.

    To an audience bred on Hollywood romance, the film's ending feels incredibly abrupt and unrealistic. This has been variously interpreted by some as a deliberately false ending, or as a miracle – particularly as a man is shown directly afterwards carrying a pair of crutches. For my part, I can help but feel that this is part of the film's realism. Couples often argue over the silly little things, and the decision to get a divorce (particularly in 1953) seems facile.

    In the same way the moment of reconciliation tuns on similarly insignificant event. Bergman faced no real danger, but it was enough to remind her of her need for her husband, and him of his love for her. Furthermore the moment has enabled them to express things to each other they both needed to share.

    Illibatezza (Chastity) - 1962
    Next up was Rossellini's section from the four way collaboration RoGoPaG (the other directors being Goddard, Pasolini and Gregoretti. Rossellini's film Illibatezza (Chastity) is the first of the four and last for about half an hour.

    The story revolves around an American business man, Joe, and his obsession with a beautiful yet naïve air stewardess, Anna Maria. We first meet Joe as he looks at a copy of Playboy: that is until he sees Anna Maria when he puts down his magazine to watch her more closely. Clever use of point of view shots and editing mean that the audience quickly find themselves in Joe's place, viewing Anna Maria as an object of desire. He has clearly idealised her innocence which has, in turn, birthed an obsession within him.

    Worried about the unwanted attention she is receiving, Anna Maria seeks the advice of her boyfriend. Significantly, we are first introduced to him via a film. Indeed the use of cine cameras throughout the film (Joe, Anna Maria and her boyfriend all use one) indicates that amongst the issues Illibatezza is raising is the medium of cinema itself. No less important is his absence from her life. Throughout the film's duration the two are never together.

    Anna Maria's boyfriend discusses the problem with a psychologist friend of his, whose diagnosis is shocking: Joe is a psychopath with a fixation on Anna Maria's purity. In order to shake him off, she is advised to give the appearance of looseness. She dresses more provocatively and dyes her hair blonde.

    Fans of of Hitcock's earlier, although colour, film Vertigo will notice numerous similarities. The voyeurism and obsession displayed in this film are reminiscent of that film as is the way in which a woman is co-ursed into turning blonde by an emotionally detached boyfriend. The scenario is far less extreme, and the genre is comedy rather than thriller, but thematically the two are very similar.

    As predicted, Joe acts with horror and is left only with his memories. Having initially rejected the sexually "available" blonde of his Playboy magazine, in favour of a "virginal" brunette, he finds that she has become the image of the girl in the magazine. In the film's most comical scene Joe projects the film he took of Anna Maria onto the wall of his hotel room and seeks, in vain, to grasp her image. He has once again chosen the pure brunette over the sexually "active" blonde only this time he has chosen an image of a woman over the real thing. Joe's fruitless grapsing is both comic and tragic. He is left only with his obsession, unable to lay hold of a relationship with a real person.

    Interestingly, Joe's revulsion at Anna Maria's new look is matched by that of her boyfriend. Even though she is clearly uncomfortable with her new image, Joe turns away in disgust upon seeing it. Like Scotty in Vertigo he has re-fashioned the appearance of his girlfriend only to be appalled by what he sees. In trying to protect her he has caused a rift in their relationship.

    Roma Città Aperta (Rome, Open City) - 1945
    This was Rossellini's breakthrough film and it was my second viewing. Whilst remembering only few images from the film prior to rewatching it (Pina's death and Don Pietro's interrogation in particular), I was astounded at how familiar the images were once I saw them again.

    One thing I don't remember appreciating the first time around is the film's humour, particularly in the earlier scenes. This is not uncommon for Rossellini. Both of the previous two films involve some form of humour, and Il Messia occasionally injects irony into the proceedings.

    I was also surprised at how graphic the torture scene was at the end. Sadly the person I watched it with found it all a bit much, and this detracted from me enjoying the film's climax as much as I did the first time I watched it.

    As the film that popularised neo-realism it's hard to appreciate it's innovations over 60 years later. That said, knowing that this film was shot in the places where the original events occurred gave the film a real edge this time around. Similarly, the acting of Don Pietro in particular is strengthened by the expressiveness of his normal face.

    I also noticed how the film blurs the line between the heroes and the villains by inserting two characters into the film who lie somewhere between the Nazi's and the Italian resistance. In the first half of the film (up to Pina's death – the sudden, unexpected nature of which causing a significant shift in the film's tone) there is an Italian policeman who is both friendly with those on his beat and who helps them during the Nazi raid on the neighbourhood. The second, darker, part of the film features a singer who has betrayed Don Petrino and his companions in order to get a fix.

    What is interesting is that we sympathise with the policeman, even thought he works overtly for the enemy, whereas the singer's betrayal elicits the opposite response. However there is a twist right at the end when the cocktail of drugs and drink she bought with her information leave her unconscious on the floor. Her female confidant (and, it is implied, her lover) bends over only to reclaim the coat which she had supposedly given her. The singer remains on the floor only now our perception of her has become more sympathetic.

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    Monday, June 04, 2007

    First Paradise Lost, NowThis?

    I never quite got around to blogging the news that John Milton's Paradise Lost is being brought to the big screen by Scott Derrickson (Exorcism of Emily Rose). (Is it a Bible film? Having not read it I'm not really sure). There doesn't seem to be a great deal of information about it yet anyway. The official website(?) is very sparse indeed and whilst the IMDb page lists it as a 2007 film, it has no release dates, cast list or images related to the film. Anyone wanting to catch up on the story so far should check out the various posts at FilmChat, in particular the article at New York Times.

    The latest of these is Variety's report that Disney has bought the script for another Adam and Eve themed film - All About Adam. Scott Rudin is lined up to produce the film which will follow Adam as he follows Eve to modern-day Gotham "after they have a lovers' quarrel" and "Adam discovers Satan was behind the breakup". I'm not really sure of the advantages of this film being about Adam and Eve, given the bible tells us very little about them and the context is so uniquely other as to surrender their literary significance. Perhaps there will be some form of going back in time grand finale à la Last Temptation of Christ.

    Finally, I stumbled out of the cinema (having watched the excellent, if troubling, This is England) on Wednesday and walked straight past a poster advertising Paradise Lost. Surprised that it had crept up on me unnoticed I did a double take, had a closer look, and discovered that this wasn't the Milton project released early, but simply a tacky horror film. Apparently the US film Turistas has been released over here as Paradise Lost. Bizarre. Someone on the IMDb Message Board summed it up nicely: "Milton just died, again".

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    Biblical Studies Carnival XVIII

    Danny Zacharias of Deinde has posted the eighteenth Biblical Studies Carnival.

    It was actually the first time I've made nominations for the carnivals so I was pleased to see my nominations make the cut: I understand that after there were no nominations last month, there were quite a few this time around.

    Next month's Biblical Studies Carnival XIX will be hosted by Stephen L. Cook over at Biblische Ausbildung.


    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Andreas Hykade's Animated Jesus film

    Variety has briefly mentioned that German animator Andreas Hykade is working on a new animated film about Jesus with finance from MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg. All they really say is that the film will be from "the perspective of his companions Paul, Judas and Mary Magdalene" and that he "also received MFG support for a TV kids series", presumably on the same subject. It seems Hykade will be working with Martina Döcker and production company Gambit.

    Peter Chattaway has offered a couple of theories as to why Paul is named as a companions of Jesus. My guess is that this was a reporter error rather than anything else, but time will tell. Peter has also dug out some more info on Hykade
    [from Association International du Film d'Animation]
    Both (his previous films) are startlingly mature films that seek light within the darkness of desire, lust and love. Hykade is equal parts Nick Tosches and Jerry Lee Lewis, a fiery poet who wrestles with sin and salvation and the profound and profane. Along the way, Hykade takes us through the violent, chaotic horrors of the soul in order to find the serenity of the stars.

    [from Wikipedia]
    At present, Hykade is working at his first feature-length film. During a live talk at the Bradford Animation Festival on November 17, 2006, he revealed that the film would revolve around the life of Jesus. Hykade did not reveal exactly how he would treat the project, but mentioned his admiration for the films Life of Brian, The Last Temptation of Christ and Jesus Christ Superstar.
    He also found the synopsis of an article for Print magazine by John Canemaker called "Jesus Elvis and Me": "Welcome to Andreas Hykade's Bavarian nightmares of stick-figure rapists and a cartoonish crucifixion. Take that, Mel Gibson!".

    Having done some hunting myself there's no mention of the film at Hykade's web site although there's enough of his work their to get the idea of what this might be like. Gambit's site has a brief mention of the project saying that it will be an "evening-filling cinema trick film, which describes the life Jesus, as it could have been". Obviously something's been lost in the translation there (cinema trick film). He also designed this poster for the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Finally there's a brief article in "Animation Now" magazine which can be read via Google Scholar which says:
    Hykade's films examine in depth the myths of male chauvinism, heroism and power in a society dominated by men and at the same time they maintain a sense of poetry and disconcerting humour.
    Sadly I've not been able to find anything (in English) on Martina Döcker, and It's unclear how much influence she will have. In any case this looks like it has the potential to be fascinating. I guess it really depends which Jesus Hykade and Döcker are making their film about - the biblical Jesus or Jesus Christ 21st Century cultural icon. As the two are getting further and further apart I very much hope it's the first. Curiously it the mention of Last Temptation of Christ that gives me most hope.