• 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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    Monday, June 22, 2009

    First Reviews for Year One

    Year One doesn't open here until Friday (so say the posters on the buses in London), and I've not been sent a review copy, so my own review of this film will have to wait until the weekend (in what is the busiest couple of weeks ever). Meanwhile, Peter Chattaway's review is up at Christianity Today, as well as a brief piece on other films about Genesis (I wrote a longer article similar to this back in 2005). And on his blog Peter offers some points he "considered making in my review but, for whatever reason, didn't". Here's a snippet of Peter's review:
    Along the way, people talk about God every now and then, but his role in the story is rather diminished; indeed, where the Bible ascribes certain actions to God, the film consistently ascribes them to regular people (except for one lightning bolt, the timing of which may point to a higher cause). It is not God but Zed's fellow villagers who expel him for eating the forbidden fruit; it is not God but Adam (Ramis) whose questions prompt Cain to complain that he isn't Abel's "keeper"; and it is not God who saves Isaac from being sacrificed at the last minute but Zed and Oh, who stumble onto the scene just as Abraham is raising his knife.
    On a certain level, comedies like these can serve a valid purpose, inasmuch as they highlight the vast gulf in sensibilities between ancient cultures and our own; it is not a bad thing to realize just how "strange" the ancient world was, or how "strange" we would seem to them.
    Occasionally amusing but not very funny, and far too coarse and stupid to be all that enlightening, Year One has to rank as the most disappointing Bible-themed movie by a major studio in decades
    Peter's not alone in disliking this one. It's currently only got 5.5 at IMDb, 37% at Metacritic, and just 20% at Rotten Tomatoes. That said both Variety and The New York Times liked it, though the usually generous Roger Ebert is not a fan.

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