• 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


    Tuesday, July 11, 2017

    ...And God Spoke (1993)

    In theory, a mockumentary about the making of a Bible film should be funny. There's an overblown genre with an penchant for taking itself too seriously and, as audiences assume, a habit of going way, way over budget. Then there's the fact that those that engage in such undertakings not infrequently suffer from delusions of grandeur. DeMille's cameo in Sunset Bouelvard (1950) may be a famous example of an epic director sending up his own image, but it's rare. This is not just because of the genre with which he DeMille is now best remembered, but because, satirical takes on, and mockumentaries about, directors are thin on the ground in general. Add to that fact that to many parts the Bible are themselves inherently funny (something even the most devout will admit on occasion) and there would seem to be promising ingredients for an amusing film.

    Sadly, ...And God Spoke is not that film. It's hard to pinpoint why exactly that is, but essentially, this feels like a three-minute skit stretched to the length of a feature film. This affects things in numerous ways. Firstly, the two leading characters, director/producer team Clive Walton and Marvin Handleman, never develop to become believable or likeable characters. Yes they take themselves too seriously and yes they're clearly not up to the job, but whereas that would work across a sketch, for a full movie it quickly becomes tiresome and implausible. Would a movie studio really hand out quite so much cash to these pair?

    Compare this to the musicians in Spinal Tap. Whilst they clearly believe their own ridiculously overblown hype and are hardly masters of their respective crafts, they are reasonable enough musicians. The chaos and amusement that ensues is as much about the more human failings such as communication, organisation and ego, than it is about basic competence. Furthermore, This is Spinal Tap manages to make its heroes interesting and even slightly endearing, whereas here, not only are they incompetent, on any level, they're also not really that likeable.

    Sercondly, And God Spoke (or The Making of 'And God Spoke... as some have it) suffers from a lackof any kind of plot or narrative momentum. Two guys get the go ahead to make a Bible movie, but their plans fall apart. It's a beginning and maybe even a middle, but that's it. And gradually as the film continues, its lack of anything engaging turns to frustration. EVen if it was never going to be a classic, it should at least have been better than this.

    Admittedly there is, very occasionally, the odd half-decent line. When the studio forces them to cut back and jettison the film's New Testament section, the two optimisitically reflect, "we still got Moses. Hopefully he can save us like he did the Jews". The sight of the actor who plays Jesus smoking is probably funnier now thanit was then what with the photos of Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix smoking on the set of the forthcoming Mary Magdalene and smoking onscreen being something of a taboo on screen in general. Also the sight of Lou "Incredidible Hulk" Ferrigno playing himself playing Cain, is not without merit.

    But really, this is a very poor film. I first watched it quite a few years ago and decided then that it probably wasn't worth the effort to review it and in some ways I'm not sure why I'm bothering now. If you want a second opinion then I guess Variety kinda liked it at the time. But even so, a missed opportunity.



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