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#1 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 02:43 AM

History channel gives 10 hours to ‘The Bible’
LOS ANGELES—As a kid in the 1960s, reality TV king Mark Burnett was thrilled by the special-effects miracle of a sundered Red Sea in “The Ten Commandments.”
“How cool was that?” said the producer of TV’s “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” who watched Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 film when it aired on television.
Now it’s Burnett’s turn to wow a small-screen audience with epic Scripture stories: He and his wife, actress Roma Downey, are producing the 10-part docudrama “The Bible” for the History cable TV channel.
It’s set to air in 2013, History channel President Nancy Dubuc said Tuesday.
The series will combine live action with computer-generated imagery to retell stories ranging from Noah and the Ark to Exodus to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Shooting is planned for the Middle East and elsewhere.
Burnett said he and Downey (who starred in a different look at faith, the fantasy series “Touched by an Angel”) have been working on the project for two years. Both grew up with Scriptures, he in England and she in Northern Ireland, but aren’t on a mission, Burnett said.
“People apply personal meanings to the Bible. Our job is to tell the stories in an emotionally connected way,” he said, adding that much of great literature and its characters are rooted in the book. . . .
“The Bible” is using the New International Version, the translation preferred by evangelical Christian leaders, and the New Revised Standard Version, Dubuc said. A committee of theologians and scholars is being assembled to consult on the series. . . .
Associated Press, May 23

#2 Tyler

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 08:06 AM

They're going to vote off a tribe of Israel at the end of each episode.

#3 MattPage

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 05:23 PM

Hmmm, I wonder if this is what this project evolved into?

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#4 mrmando

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 05:25 PM

They're going to vote off a tribe of Israel at the end of each episode.

Yeah, I bet viewers will expect the Northern Alliance to last longer because it has 10 tribes. Well, guess what?

#5 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 04:40 PM

Biz takes notice of family, faith-based media
Mark Burnett parachuted in from Morocco to show an early glimpse of his miniseries "The Bible" on Thursday at the Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit, presented by Variety in association with Rogers and Cowan.
Burnett enthusiastically spoke of his passion for the project, a 10-hour epic to air on cabler History next spring. He echoed the sentiment of many panelists at the daylong gathering at the Sofitel Hotel in emphasizing the huge, often untapped potential of faith-based productions.
However, Burnett also emphasized that bringing "Bible" to the screen has transcended business concerns for his company. His wife, thesp Roma Downey, has been on location in Morocco for weeks working as a producer and thesp on the project.
"I couldn't give a shit about the business model," Burnett said. "This was about love and faith." . . .
Variety, June 21

#6 Tyler

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 06:15 PM

"I couldn't give a shit about the business model," Burnett said. "This was about love and faith."


Awesome on so many levels.

#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 01:33 PM

http://www.deadline....e/]Deadline.com[/url] reports that Diogo Morgado is playing Jesus in this mini-series. Which is interesting, as he was once attached to play Joseph in http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?showtopic=13193&findpost=202270]Mary, Mother of Christ[/url].

#8 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:56 PM

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#9 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:10 PM

I haven't really moved in evangelical circles for a while now, but I still get the e-mails. And today I got one from a major organization that said this series "will be a wonderful tool to introduce people to the major stories of the Bible."

"A wonderful tool".

So that utilitarian jargon is still out there, eh? Sigh.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 04 December 2012 - 05:10 PM.


#10 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 06:01 PM

Link to my blog post on the series, focusing particularly on the depiction of Samson as someone of African descent (rather than Asian/Semitic, as per the Bible, or European, as per some modern historical speculation).

#11 Darrel Manson

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:08 PM

Link to my blog post on the series, focusing particularly on the depiction of Samson as someone of African descent (rather than Asian/Semitic, as per the Bible, or European, as per some modern historical speculation).

Well, yeah, when you want someone big, strong, and menacing, you go for black. Oh, wait, I'm sure there's no racism involved in such a project.

#12 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:23 AM

Something along this lines did occur to me, but I didn't know how to shoehorn that bit of modern pop-cultural subtext into my ancient-history-geek spiel.

#13 Overstreet

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 06:22 PM




I hate to say it, but after the overbearing music, cheap special effects, the shouting and the more shouting... that I finally lost it and burst out laughing when John the Baptist brought Jesus out of the water and said, "What're you gonna do?" and Jesus said, "Change the world!" I half-expected him to say, "I'M GOIN' TO DISNEYLAND!"

Edited by Overstreet, 07 February 2013 - 06:22 PM.


#14 NBooth

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 06:32 PM

Talk about giving everything away in the trailer....

Seriously, though--that trailer could really use some DeMille-level shlock (I use the term "shlock" with utmost respect and affection).

Edited by NBooth, 07 February 2013 - 06:39 PM.


#15 Ryan H.

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:27 PM

Nice to see a Jesus who could appear in the pages of GQ.

#16 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:36 PM

My latest blog post, in which I tear into a couple of Jesus-themed clips that were recently aired on a Canadian talk show (and then posted on YouTube):

This particular talk-show clip is also interesting because it includes a bit from the mini-series that I hadn’t seen before (starting at the 5:50 mark), in which Jesus gives Peter a miraculous catch of fish and tells him he can be “a fisher of men”.

This clip is based on a passage from Luke 5, and the first and most obvious inaccuracy here is that there are only two men here, namely Jesus and Peter; the film does not include the “companions” who were with Peter in his boat, nor does it include James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were fishing in the boat next to Peter’s. Every other film version of this miracle that I can recall seeing has emphasized that Jesus worked this miracle in the presence of multiple fishermen, so this stripped-down version of the scene is not only inaccurate on a strictly biblical level, but it makes the mini-series look a little cheap, too, like they couldn’t afford to hire enough actors.

More importantly, however, the clip leaves out a crucial bit of biblical dialogue — in which Peter, awestruck by the miracle, tells Jesus, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” — and replaces it with age-of-Oprah banalities like, “Just give me an hour, and I will give you a whole new life” and “I’m giving you the chance to change your life.” Biblical notions of sinfulness and holiness have been chucked out the window in favour of “exciting” but generalized ideas about change, change, change.

And then the clip ends on a note that is ripe for parody, as Jesus tells Peter that they will “change the world” and he then stares off into space as the camera spins around them and the music swells. Watching that bit is kind of like staring at Brad Pitt’s recent perfume commercial while listening to the soundtrack for Gladiator (2000); you’re supposed to think something Important has just happened here, but all I see is two actors wondering “How long do we have to hold this pose?”


Incidentally, my references to "accuracy" and "excitement" there build on ideas that I explore earlier in the blog post.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 08 February 2013 - 05:40 PM.


#17 Tyler

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:25 PM

The "change the world" bit stood out to me too, because that's precisely what Jews living in the time of Jesus expected the Messiah to do, and practically the opposite of what his mission on Earth was. (I'm thinking of change here in the literal/immediate context of overthrowing the Romans; Jesus did change things, of course, but not the way people expected him to.)

#18 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:00 PM

Yet another blog post, this time on how recent video clips (featuring Samson's mother and the angels who saved Lot's family) suggest that certain details from the New Testament might be working their way into this show's depiction of the Old Testament.

#19 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 03:39 PM

Anyone see the first episode last night?

I didn't get a chance to finish watching it until this morning, and I'm thinking of blogging it at some point soon, but for now, a few quick first impressions:

Matt and I have noted elsewhere that some of the already-released images seem to borrow from The Passion of the Christ and The Prince of Egypt. To that I would now add that the opening scene seems kind of ripped off from the first episode of Testament: The Bible in Animation -- not in a visual sense, but in the dramatic-structural sense of having Noah tell the story of the Garden of Eden to his fellow travelers on the Ark.

This helps rush things along -- the entire episode is *very* rushed, given that it covers everything from Creation to the early chapters of Joshua in less than 90 minutes (not counting commercials) -- but it also starts things off on a rather abrupt note, made all the more awkward by the fact that Noah's narration comes to an end five minutes into the movie, and then Keith David's voice takes over for the rest of the episode (and, I assume, for the rest of the series, as well).

The episode falls back on this sort of cross-cutting in one or two other places as well, and I actually thought it worked rather well when Abraham and God (or is it Jesus? they keep his face hidden or out of focus) are discussing the fate of Sodom while, simultaneously, the two angels are interacting with Lot and his neighbours.

But oh my, how rushed everything is. Many nuances lost and skipped right by. And some nuances flipped on their head, like when the Hebrew slave offers to bury the Egyptian taskmaster that Moses killed.

And yet, despite how rushed everything is, the episode finds plenty of time to dwell on the violence -- or, rather, "action", to use the marketing term (yes, I'm thinking of [i]Small Soldiers[i] here). Abraham leads the charge against the people who captured Lot (yelling "TRUST IN GOD!!" as he goes into battle, which lends the scene a spiritual imprimatur that I don't *think* the Bible itself gives this bit), and the angels who visit Lot pull out their swords and start hacking at the Sodomites (which, again, I don't remember reading in Genesis).

And why is Moses so instantly confident when he returns to Goshen? Especially in light of the fact that the Egyptians are *much* rougher to him here, at this point in his life, than they are in any other film that I can think of. And the way Moses looks across the Red Sea at Pharaoh and says something like "You are not God, God is here *with us*" seems problematic, to me; I can easily imagine a modern Christian viewer watching this scene and feeling just a little more permission to lapse into holier-than-thou us-vs-them thinking.

Still, interesting to see how the episode tries to tie different Bible stories together: Moses is *very* conscious of how the Exodus is part of a fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, which other Moses movies don't really get into. Plus, like I say, I find myself wondering if the obscured actor who speaks to Abraham might, in fact, be the same actor who plays Jesus later in the series -- though if it is, then yikes, all the spiritually-sanctioned bloodshed here could end up feeling even *more* dissonant against the later Jesus episodes.

More later, perhaps.

#20 Backrow Baptist

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:53 PM

Watched it with my wife. It wasn't as bad as I feared. The figure talking to Abraham at the destrucion of Sodom seemed intentionally to look like what we later see of Jesus. I actually liked the idea of including the pre-incarnate Christ but there must be better and more biblical ways. The moments of Abraham's anguish over trusting in God's promises, the near sacrifice of Isaac in particular, worked for me.

That being said, I have alot of gripes. Having Noah tell the creation story from the ark was an interesting way to telescope an already 10 hour mini series but it reduces everything pre-Noah to a story within a story. I'm sure it was unintentional but I worry it will give viewers even more reason to dismiss the creation account and the fall as pure myth. Also, it's frustratingly modern to hear Noah say that God sent the flood because of "bad choices" and not, you know, "sin".

As others have pointed out, it's interesting to note what the producers chose to include and spend time on. The destruction of Sodom was probably the most distracting. There is no mention of homosexuality and the only kissing I saw appeared to man on woman. Lot agrees to give shelter to the angels when the people of Sodom (the bible tells us "young and old") demand that Lot give them up. The producers choose to leave out the biblical detail of Lot offering the mob his own daughters to be violated. This seems to go along with the producers' interpretation that Lot escapes because he is a righteous man who helps the angels and not simply another sinner who receives mercy from God. Instead the angels throw off their robes (in slow mo, not unlike Django Unchained), one of them unsheaths double swords from behind his back, and proceeds to slaughter the bad guys with some poorly choreographed martial arts.

On the holier than thou issues, I'm currious to see if the producers continue to imply the bible is just about Theists vs. non-believers. I agree that the "God is with us" idea is problematic in that context.