• 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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    Thursday, January 11, 2018

    2018's Coming Attractions

    Having reviewed 2017 last week, I thought it might be worth having a brief look ahead to what 2018 has in store for Bible Film fans. It looks like it's going to be a busy year.

    Firstly, this is because there are at least four Bible films lined up for release this year - indeed there are three that have already announced a Lent release date. The most prominent of these is likely to be Mary Magdalene starring Rooney Mara in the title role and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus. Release dates in the US have been complicated by the Weinstein affair, but it's looking like it will get a release in the UK, Italy and Germany on the 15th March.

    Quite how widely it will be distributed is another matter. On the one hand biblical epics with more minor stars (e.g. Ben Hur (2016) and last year's The Star) have passed the "Loughborough Test" (if they play at my local that's usually a sign of a fairly wide distribution) but others with big names playing Jesus, such as Last Days in the Desert (2015) barely got a release anywhere in the country.

    Another film to pass the Loughborough test, somewhat to my surprise, was 2016's Risen. The makers of that film also have a release planned for Lent Paul Apostle of Christ. James Faulkner has the leading role, in that one, though his younger self - and it appears much of this film will be told in flashback - will be played by Yorgos Karamihos. Jim Caviezel will play Luke with Joanna Whalley and John Lynch as Priscilla and Aquilla. IMDB has release dates for only two countries, the USA and the UK, the 28th and 30th March respectively.

    The third film to be looking at a release in Lent is Pureflix's Samson this too has release dates on IMDB - the 16th February in North America. There's also a date of for the UK (2nd March), but it seems unlikely to play in many places, save perhaps some church screenings. The trailer for that film is now online and I'll write a quick piece on that one shortly. It does star Rutger Hauer though, albeit not in the lead role.

    Finally, there is the fourth instalment in The Quest Trilogy, called The Christ Slayer. As with the others it's written by DJ Perry and, like last year's Chasing the Star will feature a small part for the late Rance Howard. There are no released dates for this one on the film's IMDB page, but if the release of Chasing the Star is anything to go by there will be a few screenings (literally) around Michigan swiftly backed up with an early DVD / home release schedule.

    There are also a number of books to be released this year. The one I'm most excited by is the The T&T Clark Companion to the Bible and Film - mainly because I'm an egotist and it will feature a chapter I've written for it on the Biblical Canon on Film. There are a bunch of great writers in it though. I'm honoured to have something included alongside such luminaries as Adele Reinhartz, James Crossley, Lloyd Baugh and Jon Solomon as well as editor Richard Walsh.

    T&T Clark have another Bible and film volume out this year, Biblical Reception, 4: A New Hollywood Moses: On the Spectacle and Reception of Exodus: Gods and Kings edited by David Tollerton. Again there's a great group of writers involved in that one, including Cheryl Exum and David Shepherd. Michelle Fletcher has a chapter in both of these works.

    Slightly on a tangent, but The New Peplum: Essays on Sword and Sandal Films and Television Programs Since the 1990s, edited by Nicholas Diak also sounds interesting with chapters on TV series such as the recent Spartacus and Xena as well as films such as Ninth Legion. I think I will be reviewing that one.

    Lastly Helen Bond has edited a fascinating sounding volume called The Bible on Television looking at TV Bible documentaries. There are a range of good contributions in that one including filmmakers Jean Claude Braggard and David Batty, as well as scholars such as Mark Goodacre and Robert Beckford

    I also have a couple of resolutions for this year. The first is to watch more films directed by (or otherwise made by) women. If 2017 taught us anything it's that even though cinema is seen as a "liberal" industry it's still a place where the voice of 50% of the population is still not adequately heard. My other resolution is to finish the first draft of a book I've been working on. I'll be posting more on that in due course.

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