• 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, August 07, 2007

    Richard H. Campbell on Lang's "The Bible on the Big Screen"

    A couple of weeks ago I noted the (then) forthcoming release of Stephen J. Lang's "The Bible on the Big Screen". I'm still waiting for my copy, but I was interested to read a review at Amazon by the one and only Richard H. Campbell. Campbell was one of the two authors who published "The Bible on Film", way back in 1981, so it's particularly interesting to read his comments. Overall he gives the film 4 stars out of a possible five. "Mr. Lang does an excellent job writing about each film. Everything in this book is well-done; great writing; a wonderful fresh read."

    He does, however find two major faults with the book. Firstly, there is apparently no mention of others books or websites on the subject, including Campbell's own. Secondly, the book claims to include a "comprehensive filmography with a chronological listing of all biblical movies ever made" whereas it only mentions a total of 90 or so films. (Campbell notes how his 1981 book "lists almost 300 entries"). Of these 90 or so it appears that Lang deals with 36* films of them in greater depth. Campbell lists them as follows:
    From The Manger to The Cross
    Ten Commandments (1923)
    King of Kings (1927)
    Green Pastures
    Samson and Delilah
    David and Bathsheba
    Ten Commandments (1956)
    Solomon and Sheba
    Story of Ruth
    Esther and the King
    King of Kings (1961)
    David and Goliath
    Sodom and Gomorrah
    Greatest Story Ever Told
    Gospel According To Matthew
    The Bible...In the Beginning
    Jesus Christ Superstar
    Gospel Road
    Passover Plot
    Jesus of Nazareth*
    Il Messia
    Life of Brian
    King David
    Last Temptation of Christ
    Prince of Egypt
    Gospel of John
    Passion of the Christ
    One Night With The King
    The list contains 4 films that I am yet to see - The Prodigal, Sodom and Gomorrah, The Passover Plot and Jonah. I'm assuming that the latter is the Veggie Tales movie. Campbell also notes how the book discusses only 9 films made since the release of his book, and how it excludes made for TV films (except for Jesus of Nazareth).

    Three observations at this point. 1 - The list only contains English Language / and Italian made films. 2 - I'm particularly pleased to see Il Messia make the list. 3 - There are 20 "Jesus films" on the list (including some of the more tangential titles such as Salome, and 15 Old Testament.

    You can read Campbell's full review here,
    (EDIT:The above was written about Campbell's longer review. It was replaced by a shorter review of the book, which now, in turn, seems to have disappeared).

    I hope to publish my own review of the book shortly.

    *Jesus of Nazareth is counted in two parts taking the total to 36 films


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