• 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, January 23, 2011

    A.D. (Anno Domini) - Episode 4

    The start of this episode is mainly concerned with the goings on in Rome. Claudius has defied the senate's expectations and found his voice, and wants the Jews driven out of Rome, whilst Herod Agrippa has now been appointed in charge in Judea. (There's some conflation here between the Herod in the first

    Paul has made it as far as Antioch and there he meets a Greek physician called Luke and baptises him. At the same time Paul, Barnabas and Agabus discuss the coming famine in Jerusalem and Paul and Barnabas set off to gather a collection from the various churches for those in Jerusalem.

    Priscilla (pictured) and Aquila leave Rome for Corinth whilst back in Jerusalem Peter is arrested by Herod. Whilst in prison he hears of James's execution prompting him to pray for his life. The scene showing his escape is quite effective. There's no angel, all we see is a bright light shining through the window in the middle of the night. But as he looks out through his open cell door he can see the streets of his city where previously there were only the walls of the prison. The somewhat comical scene of him being left locked outside the prayer meeting petitioning for his release is omitted however. We hear of Peter's escape as Herod is told. There's a brief reaction and then a cut to the next scene where we are introduced to Linus, a recent convert, destined to the the second pope.

    The key moment in this episode is the council of Jerusalem, which is opened by Peter announcing that James is to be leader of the Jerusalem church. It's a rather low key affair
    with Paul seemingly absent - he's shown in Corinth preaching and there meets Aquila for the first time. Aquila is a great character in this production in part due to Tony Vogel's warm portrayal, and partly due to the way that the script expands the references to Priscilla and Aquila's generosity and hospitality to make these central parts of their characters. That said it's very much Aquila who is to the fore here, which seems to contrast with the picture we get from the New Testament where, very unusually, Priscilla is names first on four of the six occasions their names appear together. Vogel is something of a Bible film regular also starring in The Day Christ Died, Jesus (1999) and Jesus of Nazareth, not to mention his appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    The three eat together and there's a passing reference to Paul's reception in Lystra and Philippi. It's somewhat surprising that the latter isn't shown. It's one of the more famous stories from the middle of Acts, and most other films about Acts show it. We're also not shown Paul's split from Barnabas which happens in between these other two incidents.

    The second half of this episode is rather light on New Testament content, we see Paul preaching in an unnamed synagogue deftly summing up some of the places he has visited, and there's a scene of Priscilla and Aquila talking to three of the fictional characters in the story about how conversion can be quick or "a lingering slow sweet skill".

    The episode ends however with Paul's return to, and arrest at, the temple. The episode ends on a bit of a cliff hanger in this respect. There's no mention of Paul sponsoring the ceremony of the 4 Jewish Christians, simply he and Luke appearing in the outer courts of the temple while his opponents round up the people they need to affect his arrest...

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    • At 4:26 pm, January 23, 2011, Blogger angmc43@hotmail.com said…

      Some trivia points:

      Priscilla's actress, Angela Morant played Augustus' sister Octavia in the 1976 BBC series I, CLAUDIUS. Neil Dickson, who plays Valerius, also had a cameo as a Preatorian in that series (he's probably the guard screaming 'Make Way for the Emperor!' when Tiberius has his last meeting with Livia in "Queen of Heaven.").

      I remember seeing A.D. right after seeing I,C. The History Channel had a Super Bowl marathon of the BBC series. Personally, I thought the Roman parts of A.D. were inferior to I,C.

      Vogel, James Mason, Ian McShane, David Hedison, and Fernando Rey all played roles in JESUS OF NAZARETH.

      I've heard your interest in seeing the 1981 TV movie THE DAY CHRIST DIED. I could give you a detailed summary if you wish.

    • At 8:48 am, February 17, 2011, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for the trivia, I meant to watch IC in-between watching HBO's Rome and watching this, but it didn't quite work out. Someday perhaps.

      Also thanks for your offer regarding The Day Christ Died. I have actually managed to see it now, although I've still not got around to posting on it.


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