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In the Beginning

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From Walden Media and the guy who brought you Hidalgo...

The Book of Genesis - in 3D!

EXCLUSIVE: The world’s oldest story is on a collision course with cutting-edge Hollywood technology. I’m told that Paramount Pictures and former Walden Media co-founder Cary Granat producing with Reel Fx are mounting In The Beginning, a 3D telling of the creation story. The film is using The Book of Genesis as its primary resource. A script has been written by John Fusco (Hidalgo), and directing will be TV vet David Cunningham. This pair had teamed with Granat on a Walden film that never happened, Rebels: The Green Mountain Boys. Reel Fx is spearheading the visuals and will soon turn over test footage the filmmakers hope will prompt a green light. Paramount will co-finance and distribute.

Edited by Overstreet

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I wondered why a shiver ran down my spine.

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At first I thought this could be the David Cunningham who directed To End All Wars, which gave me a little bit of hope, but some searching on IMDB makes it look like it's a different person. To End All Wars lists David L. Cunningham as its director.

Interesting that they list Genesis as "the world's oldest story." It is the oldest in terms of the events it tells, of course, but there are rather a lot of ancient stories that predate the writing of Genesis, if I'm remembering my OT survey class correctly.

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It COULD be the same David Cunningham. The guy who made To End All Wars went on to do the remake of Little House on the Prairie and The Path to 9/11, so he's certainly a "TV vet" of some sort. He also has experience working with Walden -- on The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising -- though from what I hear (and based on what ended up on the screen), the experience didn't go very well.

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It has the potential to be the bloodiest most vile and incestuous drunken tale of debauchery and salvation and destruction (and salvation again) ever made. I wonder whether they'll go for it or play it safe.

(Duh.)

Interesting that they list Genesis as "the world's oldest story." It is the oldest in terms of the events it tells, of course, but there are rather a lot of ancient stories that predate the writing of Genesis, if I'm remembering my OT survey class correctly.

I believe the oldest book in the Bible is Job. Or is it Jonah? Maybe I'm getting my J's confused...

Edited by Persona

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So we're getting a 3-D version of GENESIS? Does that mean we'll be getting 3-D nudity? :P Of course we won't. Instead, we'll get cringe-inducing tree branches carefully positioned so that all the naughty bits aren't visible. And I bet Eve won't have armpit hair and hairy legs.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I could be mistaken, but I think the Epic of Gilgamesh and the earliest Hindu texts predate the book of Genesis...but why let scholarship get in the way of press release hyperbole?

Edited by Andrew

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I could be mistaken, but I think the Epic of Gilgamesh and the earliest Hindu texts predate the book of Genesis...but why let scholarship get in the way of populist hyperbole?

I think one current scholarly opinion is that the Noah Flood story is the Judeo-Christian interpretation of the flood in Gilgamesh.

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Tyler - I'm digging into personal ancient history of my college OT course, but akin to what you wrote, I recall the Genesis flood story is a later version than Gilgamesh, of flood narratives found in many traditions.

Edited by Andrew

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The Flood story has parallels in Gilgamesh, yeah, but so does the Eden story. If memory serves, Gilgamesh finds a fruit that can grant immortality, but it is stolen from him and eaten by a snake (and this explains why snakes now shed their skin and constantly rejuvenate themselves). So there's an obvious parallel there with the Tree of Life in Eden and the fact that a snake plays SOME sort of role in cutting humankind off from that tree.

BTW, link to our thread on Scott Derrickson's in-development adaptation of Paradise Lost. I wonder if there's room for TWO movies about Creation and the Fall. (Cunningham's movie WILL get as far as the Fall, yes?)

I do wonder how Cunningham's movie could possibly be just about Adam & Eve. There HAS to be more to it than that.

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Thanks Jeffrey, duly blogged.

Matt

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So creation story or creation to flood story? It seems from the article that this one doesn't make it too far past Genesis 3, which would make the Enuma Elish a better cosmological sparring partner.

I have one request: Make this straight to DVD and include a "conservative" and "liberal" version. The conservative version has intertitles:

Day 1

24 hours later: Day 2

24 hours later: Day 3

24 hours later: Day 4

etc...

The liberal version simply edits out the intertitles.

Edited by M. Leary

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It will certainly be helpful for answering some of those nagging quesitions, like to whom is God speaking when he says, Let us make humankind in our own image?" The movie will no doubt be the definitive answer.

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So creation story or creation to flood story? It seems from the article that this one doesn't make it too far past Genesis 3, which would make the Enuma Elish a better cosmological sparring partner.

I have one request: Make this straight to DVD and include a "conservative" and "liberal" version. The conservative version has intertitles:

Day 1

24 hours later: Day 2

24 hours later: Day 3

24 hours later: Day 4

etc...

The liberal version simply edits out the intertitles.

I've always wondered how time was supposed to be measured the first 3 days, since the sun isn't created until day 4.

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Link to our thread on 'genesis movies'.

phlox wrote:

: It’s amazing there hasn’t been an Adam and Eve on film except in Huston’s 1966 “The Bible.”

Well, there was Mike Figgis's The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999). That other thread of ours also lists The Annunciation (d. Andras Jeles, 1984) and Genesis: Creation & The Flood (d. Ermanno Olmi, 1994) as films that tackle the first three chapters of Genesis, though if memory serves, those interpretations were far less literal.

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So we're getting a 3-D version of GENESIS? Does that mean we'll be getting 3-D nudity? :P

Not long ago a friend and I had a great conversation about inappropriate potential uses of 3D. My best contribution was Lolita 3D, but this may not be far behind (so to speak).

Edited by du Garbandier

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Oh, and Year One! How could we forget Year One! :)

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It will certainly be helpful for answering some of those nagging quesitions, like to whom is God speaking when he says, Let us make humankind in our own image?" The movie will no doubt be the definitive answer.

If the Bible is cohesive, then the NT explains a triune nature of this God, however, I don't think you'll find the word "Trinity" there...

It’s amazing there hasn’t been an Adam and Eve on film except in Huston’s 1966 “The Bible.”

I did attend a film festival screening of Iván Ávila's version of Adam and Eve, Adán y Eva (Todavía) (2004), but I got a little more than I bargained for there. (Adam and Eve are immortal, having eaten of the fruit they are wandering the earth bored in search of all kinds of various forms of sexual encounter.) It was super -- super lame.

I've always wondered how time was supposed to be measured the first 3 days, since the sun isn't created until day 4.

Isn't there a Bible verse where God says that to him a day is like a thousand years?

Not long ago a friend and I had a great conversation about inappropriate potential uses of 3D. My best contribution was Lolita 3D, but this may not be far behind (so to speak).

I've never seen these, but I know that there were 3-D versions of Emmanuelle 4: Concealed Fantasy. :)

Edited by Persona

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This thread has a snarky quality to it that would, were I not a savvy A&F veteran but a newbie, cause me to flee the site permanently.

But carry on with the conversation.

Speaking of snarky, here's my contribution. Jeffrey quoted Nikki Finke, who wrote: The film is using The Book of Genesis as its primary resource.

I should hope so.

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Christian wrote:

: Speaking of snarky, here's my contribution. Jeffrey quoted Nikki Finke, who wrote: The film is using The Book of Genesis as its primary resource.

Finke didn't write that, Mike Fleming did. (Well, it's always possible that Finke, like certain other editors I can think of, has messed with the story and inserted her own ideas or opinions into the text in some way. But it's Fleming's name in the byline.)

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Sophia- the female co-creator from the apocrypha

(said the token liberal)

Not sure what you mean by "token liberal", but if you mean that you think everyone else around here is evangelical then hopefully you'll be pleased to know that you're wrong. Darrel who you responded to isn't, and nor am I. And I can think of quite a few others who are of similar ilk. So you're in good company.

Link to our thread on 'genesis movies'.

phlox wrote:

: It’s amazing there hasn’t been an Adam and Eve on film except in Huston’s 1966 “The Bible.”

Well, there was Mike Figgis's The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999). That other thread of ours also lists The Annunciation (d. Andras Jeles, 1984) and Genesis: Creation & The Flood (d. Ermanno Olmi, 1994) as films that tackle the first three chapters of Genesis, though if memory serves, those interpretations were far less literal.

And of course 2003's The Real Old Testament.

Matt

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Christian wrote:

: Speaking of snarky, here's my contribution. Jeffrey quoted Nikki Finke, who wrote: The film is using The Book of Genesis as its primary resource.

Finke didn't write that, Mike Fleming did. (Well, it's always possible that Finke, like certain other editors I can think of, has messed with the story and inserted her own ideas or opinions into the text in some way. But it's Fleming's name in the byline.)

Sorry about that. I saw that the link went to Deadline Hollywood and assumed it was Finke's writing. I thought she wrote everything on that site.

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No worries, Christian. (Though I'm mildly surprised that you hadn't heard about Nikki stealing one of Variety's top reporters away from that paper -- and only a few weeks before Variety fired Todd McCarthy, its longest-serving film critic. That paper's going down, baby, it's going down down down!)

Anyway. It's kinda fun to see that we almost had a sort of meta-source criticism discussion here. Never mind the J document and the P document (to say nothing of the E or the D), we could always try to discern which parts of any given Deadline.com article can be traced back to N (for Nikki) and which parts can be traced back to M (for Mike)!

Oh, and phlox, you'll find evangelicals who are perfectly okay with source criticism, too. I know *I* certainly was, in my Protestant days, and I knew others who were, too. (FWIW, I don't know what F.F. Bruce made of the JEPD hypothesis, but I do know that he was one of those scholars who believed that Isaiah was the work of multiple authors spread out over a few centuries, and not of a single prophet. Alas, "grassroots" evangelicals do tend to frown upon such theories, which I imagine is one of the reasons why Mel Gibson changed the date of that Isaiah quote that begins The Passion of the Christ between the test screenings and the final theatrical release... but anyhoo.)

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Anyway. It's kinda fun to see that we almost had a sort of meta-source criticism discussion here. Never mind the J document and the P document (to say nothing of the E or the D), we could always try to discern which parts of any given Deadline.com article can be traced back to N (for Nikki) and which parts can be traced back to M (for Mike)!

Peter, you're on fire today! :) That was hilarious.

Anyway, I'm OK with source criticism, even as I consider myself a "Bible is the Word of God" type (I'm steering clear of terms like "inerrantist," or whatever the current term is, to avoid digressions). But I feel like we have threads here where everyone laughs at the idea of literal interprestations of, say, Noah's Ark, and I fear that this thread might extend a tone of "who would ever believe such a thing?" to the rest of Genesis. I don't want to quash the debate, but I'm also not eager to alienate others (lurkers or newbies -- especially on the heels of our Top 100 list, which, I think we're all hoping will draw in some new blood).

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Christian wrote:

: But I feel like we have threads here where everyone laughs at the idea of literal interprestations of, say, Noah's Ark, and I fear that this thread might extend a tone of "who would ever believe such a thing?" to the rest of Genesis.

Ah, okay.

FWIW, my primary reaction to this news is to wonder, "How are they going to pad out the story?" Because there simply isn't enough material in the first three chapters of Genesis to sustain a feature-length film. And given the nature of the story, there wouldn't seem to be many opportunities for introducing sidekicks or supporting characters or subplots or similar s-words.

Paradise Lost, of course, is an epic that stretches back BEFORE the opening chapters of Genesis, and it features a lot of drama between the angels and God and whatnot. But Genesis itself does not. (Heck, even the serpent is just that: a serpent. It is only later traditions that identified the serpent with one of the fallen angels.)

The question of "believability" is also an interesting one, given that filmmakers often act as though the medium compels them to be "realistic", etc. But who can say what a "realistic" take on a pre-fallen world would be? And yet whenever filmmakers TRY to do something more poetic or non-literal, it can often come across as kitschy or half-baked. (I don't remember What Dreams May Come well enough to comment on it myself, but certainly many people seem to have found that film's vision of the afterlife ANYTHING but transcendent.)

A "poetic" take on the early chapters of Genesis could be sustained for a reel or two, I think, but once you stretch it out to feature length, and once you start looking for ways to expand the narrative, I think you're asking for trouble.

Which is not to say that it can't be done. I have never read Paradise Lost, but I gather it's a classic, and it stands to reason that a film version of such an established text would have a good foundation to work from. But what are the makers of In the Beginning going to do? How creative have they been in the past?

If the David Cunningham in question is the same one who made To End All Wars etc., then his work to date has generally consisted of "realistic" or history-based stories, with the single exception of the children's fantasy The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising -- which was a dud, but apparently it suffered from a lot of interference at the hands of Fox Walden. And who's making In the Beginning, again? Oh, right, Walden.

I guess we'll just have to hope that it was the "Fox" part of Fox Walden that did all the interfering before, rather than the "Walden" part. Although many of Walden's other, non-Fox movies have also turned out rather iffy.

EDITED TO ADD: My bad. Walden is not actually behind this film; rather, one of the producers is a former executive at Walden who left the company after Fox got involved. I didn't read the original story closely enough.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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