• 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


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    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Bible Films Blog Review of 2007

    This blog is officially two years old in the next few days, and recently I've had a number of people surprised that I was still finding fresh material. I must say that I count myself among them! Actually that's a bit of an exaggeration. I always knew that there was plenty of material here to discuss, but at the same time I'm surprised that there has been so much news to cover. As a result I thought it might be worth concluding the year with a bit of a review.

    2007 was the year that Moses really made it big at the cinema, with three different films examining material from the Book of Exodus. 50 years after The Ten Commandments performed spectacularly well at the box office Promenade Pictures' animated re-telling of the Moses story used the same name. Somewhat less reverently, David Wain's The Ten used the idea of the Ten Commandments to string together a series of sketches. Finally Penny Woodcock's Exodus was a challenging reconstruction of the story of the Exodus set in modern day Margate.But it wasn't just Moses that got in on the action there was also Corina van Eijk's Samson and Delilah, and of course Evan Almighty. The New Testament had but a single representative, the lacklustre Magdelena, Released from Shame.

    Away from cinemas there were a few noteworethy productions on the TV as well. Friends and Heroes wove stories from the Bible into it's children's story of a family living in 1st century Alexandria. There was also The Liverpool Nativity. There was also a number of documentaries. The year was topped and tailed by Channel 4's night on Life of Brian which included two on The Pythons. The year's major documentary, however was James Cameron's Lost Tomb of Jesus. On a personal note I also got to see a number of other Bible films that I had waited for a while to see. Chief amongst them was Rossellini's Atti Degli Apostoli, which took 5 hours (not to mention travel time), but which I'd revisit in a flash given half a chance. I also got a first look at Cammina Cammina, Esther and the King, Golem Spirit of Exile, Story of Ruth, Noah's Ark, Silver Chalice, La Ricotta from RoGoPaG and Lance Tracey's The Cross. Perhaps my favourite find of the year, however, was the hilarious Real Old Testament.

    There were also a number of new books written on the subject. January saw the release of Adele Reinhartz's flowing, and very engaging "Jesus of Hollywood". Thomas Langkau focussed on the last fifteen years in his "Filmstar Jesus Christus" in German, Stephen Lang published his broader, if slightly dull "Bible on the Big Screen", and Staley and Walsh's invaluable "Jesus, the Gospels and Cinematic Imagination". Sadly, I wasn't given the opportunity to review "Mel Gibson's Passion: The Film, the Controversy, and Its Implications", but there were two contrasting and complementary reviews from Mark Goodacre and Timothy D. Finlay

    Films based on the Bible also got a mention in various other books about faith in film including Melanie Wright's "Religion and Film", Flesher and Torry's "Film and Religion", Johnston's revised "Reel Spirituality" and Jeffrey Overstreet's hugely enjoyable "Through a Screen Darkly".

    So all in all a surprisingly busy year and 2008 looks likely to be equally busy with a host of films in production, the pick of which looks likely to be the BBC's The Passion in partnership with HBO.


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