Carmen at in the open space tagged me with a Bible Movie Meme started by Matt at Broadcast Depth. It asks you to name your three favorite “Bible movies” and one that you would like to see made. Like her, I’m taking some liberties with the directions (we share at least one favorite). My colleague Ken Morefield has posted his (cautious) favorites as well.
1. Ben Hur—OK, maybe not really a Bible movie, but since it’s subtitled “a tale of the Christ,” I think it qualifies. Defines the term “over-the-top Hollywood epic”—well, after Lawrence of Arabia—and also embodies Biblical values of grace, healing, rebirth, and forgiveness. Plus, chariot race. It’s extreme, but also somehow irresistible. Sort of like Gone with the Wind, but that is more of a guilty pleasure.
2. Kings—not a movie, but this 13-episode TV revision of the story of Saul and David from 1 Samuel brought us some of the most intriguing treatment of religion, faith, and contemporary culture in recent years. Shiloh—which looks a lot like a somewhat futuristic New York—is the newly rebuilt capital of the kingdom of Gilboa, with “Silas” (Saul) as its divinely appointed king. Of course it was too too good to last. Well, maybe not TOO good—at times the sort-of Shakespearean style writing falls between high and low stools, but Ian McShane as King Silas usually makes it work somehow anyway. There’s plenty of material left in 1 & 2 Samuel to have kept this combination spiritual family drama/battle adventure going for a while.
3. The Gospel of John—It may not be the most artistic gospel film ever, but I was particularly taken with Henry Ian Cusick’s charming and compelling Jesus (and that was before I’d seen the actor in anything else, such as Lost). The low-key but generally authentic settings put more emphasis on the text, and one is struck by Jesus repeated statements, “I am telling you the truth.”
Arg…I had to edit this post in a major way twice as I was distracted and hastily stopped after #3.
So really, a movie based on the Bible that I would like to see made? That’s a difficult one, but what immediately came to mind was the Anglo-Saxon poem “Judith,” based on the apocryphal book of Judith. For one thing, it has plenty of battle action; and secondly, it has the wise, beautiful, courageous, and wily Judith. And a beheading. On the other hand, it is kind of talky. But the book is always better than the movie.