• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and a few bits and pieces on the Bible.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Bible Films Blog Review of 2011

    It's perhaps fortunate that in a year in which I've struggled to blog regularly there's not been a great deal happening. 2010 was a quiet year; 2011 was quieter still.

    From the point of view of this blog, major change was the start of the Facebook page. Apologies if I've been banging one but this, but I'd urge anyone disappointed by the lack of traffic on this blog to keep an eye on things over there, even if you "don't do Facebook". You don't have to start a Facebook account, or give them any information to read it, and all the news about new Bible films, or reviews by others on older ones is there.

    I'd also encourage others to keep posting and commenting. I'm particularly grateful to Peter Chattaway who frequently adds new bits and pieces, and for all the others that have contributed. Ultimatey, I guess, I started this blog as a way to resource those looking into Bible Films, and as digital communication has moved on better ways have emerged to do that. Facebook provides a less top-down approach than this blog which means that there can be more interaction between users, and a wider pool of people contributing and so on. And if you just want to read that's fine - the same stuff is over there, but in general you get it much quicker. The blog will stay for more in-depth writing such a recent posts.

    Despite the rumours which continue to fly about Bible films in the works (including the exciting news this year about Scott Derrickson filming Goliath) almost no new dramatic portrayals of the biblical narratives were released this year. The closest we came was the première of the midrashic Young Avraham at the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival. There was also the short film The Gathering and DVD releases of a new filmed version of Schöenberg's "Moses und Aron" and Where is my Father>, a new film about Job.

    Thankfully, there were at least a few documentaries to keep up the interest. The BBC gave us a three-parter The Bible's Buried Secrets presented by Exeter University's Francesca Stavrakopoulou. The first part looked at the evidence (or lack thereof) regarding David and Solomon, part 2 raised the question as to whether God had a wife, before the final part looked at the origins of the Garden of Eden myth and proposed that the original story used Eden to talk about Jerusalem. The series was interesting, although not always convincing, and managed to avoid some of the modern TV documentary clichés, but was beset by overly dramatic rhetoric about "rocking" and "shaking" the very core of monotheism.

    For those who felt the series was a little too one-sided in favour of atheists and liberals, the BBC, as always, redressed the balance at Easter offering a two-part documentary The Story of Jesus. Aside from such prominence being given to such a orthodox / traditional / conservative retelling of the Easter story, the programme was also notable for breaking from the standard format of having one expert narrating and interviewing others by using nine different scholars do the work on screen, occasionally meeting to hand on to the next. It also featured some good footage from Big Book Media.

    The only other significant occurrence was about as tangential as things can get. BBC4 broadcast a rather surreal fictionalisation of the events leading up to the release of Monty Python's Life of Brian in general and the infamous TV debate in particular. Holy Flying Circus starred Charles Edwards as Michael Palin and Darren Boyd as John Cleese as they went head to head with Malcolm Muggeridge (played by Michael Cochrane) and Mervyn Stockwood, the then Bishop of Southwark (Roy Marsden). It contained a few good laughs, but was overall rather hit and miss and its greatest contribution was perhaps giving the BBC a legitimate opportunity to air the full version of the original programme Friday Night, Saturday Morning.

    And that was more or less it! For the blog and me it was a year of great contrasts. The start of the year was busy with several different presentations and projects all happening within 10 days of one another at the start of the year and struggling to be able to even put metaphorical pen to non-literal paper. Whilst 2012 already has the publication of a new Bible films book to it's name (Catherine O'Brien's "Celluloid Madonna"), the popular Easter release window is looking rather unpopulated at the moment and there's precious little else on the horizon at the moment. Time will tell.



    • At 10:14 am, January 12, 2012, Anonymous Karl Udy said…

      Hi Matt,
      It may have slipped under your radar, or you may not have included it because it is not feature length but the anime short from the Jesus Film Project, "My Last Day" was released for Easter 2011

    • At 10:24 am, January 12, 2012, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Missed it! Thanks. Not quite sure how I missed it, given I know someone who works on this stuff with them. Will have to watch and review soon.




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