• 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, March 03, 2018

    A.D. (2015) - Part 7

    This is part 5 of a series of posts covering A.D. episode by episode & are initial impressions not a review. You can read them all here

    Episode 7 of A.D. Kingdom and Empire picks up more or less where the previous installment ended with Saul rampaging his way through Jerusalem. Peter and the other Christians are, naturally enough, concerned, but decide to stay put at least for now.

    Meanwhile Caiaphas and Pilate have other concerns, namely the impending arrival of Emperor Tiberius in Jerusalem. This seems a curiously carefree piece of historical licence. Appearances by Roman emperors in Jerusalem were relatively few and far between, least of all from the famously reclusive Tiberius who didn't even visit Rome for a ten or so year period in which this episode is set. That said, given that the casting team managed to secure the typically enjoyable Kenneth Cranham for the role, Tiberius' brief ahistorical departure from Capri is forgivable. Cranham is no stranger to roles such as this having played Pompey in Rome (2005) as well as kind of Pilate figure in 2003's Man Dancin' (a sort of Scottish reworking of Jesus of Montreal).

    Philip meanwhile has headed to Samaria, been mugged on the outskirts of the city, and has fallen in with an associate of Simon Magus. Simon here is running a kind of early, open-air, stage show, but when he fails to produce a genuine healing, Philip steps up and performs a miracle. Unlike the Acts account, Peter and John don't turn up to steal Philip's thunder (which would have slightly undermined the positives of the series' multi-ethnic casting) and the focus is less on the fledgling church than on the unaffiliated population in general. Generally however it plays fairly close to Acts 8:9-25 and Philip's smack-down towards the end of the episode is welcome if only to put pay to Magus' hokey fakery (by which I mean his acting more than his magic).

    What's strange about the episode is the way the Saul storyline seems to lose its way. Having established a strong base in episode 6, it loses its rhythm in this episode due to the Tiberius storyline. Moreover whereas one might have thought that what with Stephen meeting his end (Acts 7) in episode 5 by episode 7 we might have got onto Saul's conversion from just one and a bit chapters later on. Alas no. At this stage the filmmakers were still hoping for a second series. Hopefully episode 8 will contain the necessary sojourn to Damascus. Cranham aside, this episode was pretty poor.

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