• 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, October 25, 2007

    Daniel Films Redux

    Having discussed a number of films about Daniel earlier in the month, I've now watched a couple of those that I hadn't seen previously.

    The Beginners Bible: The Story of Daniel in Lions' Den is a fairly standard cartoon aimed mainly at kids, albeit with the odd joke that might entertain adults. For example, during the incident with Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2, one of the bewildered magi summarises his master's request as "You want us to tell you know what we know so you'll know that we know what you already know?" If shows the following episodes:
    Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem - (Dan 1:1-2)
    Daniel and friends in Babylon - (Dan 1:3-7; 18-21)
    Nebuchadnezzar's dream - (Dan 2:1-49)
    Belshazzar's banquet - (Dan 5:1-31)
    Daniel in the Lion's Den - (Dan 6:1-28)
    So it misses out the incident where Daniel and his friends request a special diet from Dan 1; The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Dan 3); and the story of Nebuchadnezzar's madness (Dan 4). Given that the story is aimed at younger children these omissions all make some kind of sense. Trying to explain diet restrictions to younger children from another, ancient, culture is fairly difficult I imagine. Likewise introducing three other characters whilst Daniel is off screen might be distracting, and there's a fair bit of repetition in the telling of Nebuchadnezzar's second dream.

    What's also interesting is the way that this cartoon is called The Story of Daniel in Lions' Den, but it's really a general account of Daniel in Babylon. The Lions' Den story only takes about a quarter of the total run time. The cartoon is fairly well animated, but offers very little insight for grown ups. (Which is obviously fair enough!)

    VeggieTales: Daniel in the Lions' Den (on the Where is God when I'm S-S cared DVD) has much in common with the above cartoon. Again it's aimed firmly at kids, although it also includes the odd joke that adults might get more easily. I can't help feeling though that whilst all children will be entertained by this film, the story is more accessible to younger children in the Beginners Bible version. It's a play off because that version will probably not keep the attention of older children as this does however.

    Like the Beginners Bible this programme contains scenes from Daniel's life other than the title story:
    Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem - (Dan 1:1-2, 6)
    Nebuchadnezzar's dream - (Dan 2:1-13, 25-30, 48)
    Daniel in the Lion's Den - (Dan 6:1-28)
    There are obviously fewer stories here, which partly reflects the shorter running time. The account of Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Jerusalem is shorter still, just the briefest of prologues. The only other story included (other than that of the Lions' Den) is that of Nebuchadnezzar's first dream. Strangely, the content of the dream is never revealed or discussed. It simply forms the motive for the wise men who then plot against Daniel.

    Despite the shorter running time the events from Daniel 6 take longer than in the above film, mainly due to it having more songs, and lengthy sequence where Daniel first enters the den.

    I also made a few comments on the Daniel entry from the Testament: Bible in Animation series, which also admits the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and compounds Nebuchadnezzar's two dreams into a single incident. Overall though it's the most complete animated account that I've come across.

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