• 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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    Saturday, September 09, 2017

    The Bible (2013) - Part 5

    Episode 5 of The Bible (Survival) picks up one of the parts of the book that most adaptations tend to miss, so packed into this episode is both a bit on Jeremiah and a good deal of the Book of Daniel. This is definitely one of the episodes in this series that keeps on track to covering the biblical material without getting waylaid in invented subplots.

    Jeremiah's story is reduced more or less to him turning up in King Mattaniah's court wearing an ox-yoke and telling his monarch to surrender to Nebuchanezzar.  Nebuchanezzar here is played by Peter Guinness, who I've always enjoyed seeing pop up ever since Spender (1991-93). Mattaniah takes no notice of course so it's hardly surprising when just a few moments later we're treated to Nebuchanezzar putting out the king's eyes. By hand. Because, everything in this series, particularly the violence, has to be completely over the top

    Jeremiah is played by Raad Rawi and appears old and shaggy looking, (in keeping with Jeremiah's likely age at this point). Certainly he's nowhere near as hot as Patrick Dempsey, from the 1998 film version, though that film focused far more on the start of Jeremiah's ministry. The contrast is all the greater, then, with the actor playing Daniel. I must admit that when I've read Daniel in the past, it never occurred to me that he might have a six-pack. I suppose I should probably blame the lack of a major-studio produced 50s biblical epic adaptation for that.

    The Daniel section of the film not only includes the Lion's Den scene but also has time to show Daniel's rise to prominence via dream interpretation; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego surviving the Nebuchanezzar's furnace (thanks to a suspiciously Jesusy-looking angel); and Nebuchadnezzar descent into madness. Guinness isn't quite munching-grass in these scenes, but that's probably because he's already had his fill of the scenery.

    It's not really made clear why on top of being fed to the lions Daniel also has to undergo this trial in just a loincloth, aside from the opportunity to show off the prophet's abs. In any case what the film does do well is to show show a genuinely fearful Daniel, even if we know it will all be okay in the end. I suppose Daniel's near nakedness heightens the sense of his vulnerability. And then the Israelites get to go back to Jerusalem and there's still 7 minutes left to talk about the Romans ahead of the next episode. All in all this is one of the better entries in the series, not only covering a lot of material without getting sidetracked, but by providing one or two genuinely insightful moments.

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    • At 5:50 am, September 10, 2017, Blogger Peter T Chattaway said…

      This episode is also noteworthy for the way it alludes to the theory that certain sections of the book of Isaiah were written by someone other than the original prophet of that name. If memory serves, there is a scene where Daniel tells Cyrus that a prophet living in Babylon at that time wrote a prophecy about Cyrus, yes?

    • At 4:33 am, September 15, 2017, Blogger Matt Page said…

      I think I might have missed that one this time round, but it does ring a bell.

    • At 8:21 am, April 04, 2021, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Watching this again, two phrases spring out. The first - which shows (presumably) part of the Bible being written - has the narrator talk about how the writings of Moses along with Joshua Samuel and Kings together "form the heart of the Hebrew Bible". Which confines a lot to the peripheries (Psalms anyone?)

      Secondly Daniel explains his decision to keep praying through Cyrus/Dairus' ban as being because "I cant live long without praying to God" which is an odd take on it.


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