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Wow, this looks interesting -- I just discovered the film below at the local Videomatica, and while I have not yet had a chance to see it, I know I want to:

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is a visually stunning film of the Biblical story of the house of Abraham, told from an African perspective. Based on chapters 33-37 of the book of Genesis, the film portrays the bitter rivalry between the brothers Jacob and Esau, which threatens to engulf both clans in a never-ending cycle of violence.

Jacob the Hebrew herder has tricked his older brother Esau (famed African musician Salif Keita) out of his birthright, so Esau and his tribe of nomadic hunters plot revenge on Jacob and his people. Their Cannanite cousins, led by Hamor, are drawn into the conflict. When Jacob's daughter Dina is abducted by Hamor's son Sichem, he allows them to marry. But Jacob's sons are still angry, leading to further violence.

Unlike Hollywood's sanitized versions of the Bible,
Genesis
shows men driven as much by greed and anger as by devotion to God. Using the striking African landscape, director Sissoko creates a powerful story of hatred and revenge that resonates in many parts of the world today.

This gets me to thinking, how many OTHER films based on the Book of Genesis are there? The first ones that come to mind include:

Noah's Ark
(d. Michael Curtiz & Darryl F. Zanuck, 1929; ch. 6-9)

Sodom and Gomorrah
(d. Robert Aldrich & Sergio Leone, 1962; ch. 13-19)

The Bible: In the Beginning...
(d. John Huston, 1966; ch. 1-22)

The Story of Jacob and Joseph
(d. Michael Cacoyannis, 1974; ch. 25-50)

The Genesis Project: Genesis
(d. ?, 197?; ch. 1-50)

The Annunciation
(d. Andras Jeles, 1984; ch. 1-3)

The Emigrant
(d. Youssef Chahine, 1994; ch. 37-47)

Genesis: Creation & The Flood
(d. Ermanno Olmi, 1994; ch. 1-9)

Abraham
(d. Joseph Sargent, 1994; ch. 11-25)

Jacob
(d. Peter Hall, 1994; ch. 25-33)

Joseph
(d. Roger Young, 1995; ch. 34-50)

Noah's Ark
(d. John Irvin, 1999; ch. 6-9, 19)

The Loss of Sexual Innocence
(d. Mike Figgis, 1999; ch. 1-3)

Genesis
(d. Cheick Oumar Sissoko, 1999; ch. 33-37)

Fantasia/2000
(d. Francis Glebas, etc., 1999; ch. 6-9)

Joseph, King of Dreams
(d. Rob LaDuca & Robert C. Ramirez, 2000; ch. 35-47)

FWIW, the chapter references are from memory and may not be entirely accurate (and of course, many of these films skip over entire chapters, as well). And FWIW, I have seen all of these except the Curtiz and Sissoko films.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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FWIW, the chapter references are from memory and may not be entirely accurate...

The chapter references are from memory?

The chapter references are from memory?!?!

The CHAPTER REFERENCES are from memory?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Ron wrote:

: The chapter references are from memory?

Um, well, I did reference a Bible, but I meant I was going from memory in terms of remembering what the films did or did not portray. (For example, not all films about Joseph depict his death...)

But since you ask, there WAS once a time when I knew the contents of each chapter by heart. I remember rattling them off in a quiz when I was in grade eight (chapter 1, creation of the universe; chapter 2, creation of Adam and Eve and Eden; chapter 3, the Fall; chapter 4, Cain and Abel; chapter 5, the generations of Adam; chapters 6 to 9, the Flood; chapter 10, the Table of Nations; chapter 11, the Tower of Babel and Terah moving his family to Haran; etc.; I also know off-hand that chapter 14 is the one in which Abraham rescues Lot and the city of Sodom, and chapter 22 is the one with the almost-sacrifice of Isaac, and chapter 34 is the one with the rape of Dinah and the sacking of Shechem, and chapter 38 is the one about Judah, his sons, and his daughter-in-law Tamar).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter T Chattaway wrote:

: Genesis: Creation & The Flood (d. Ermanno Olmi, 1994; ch. 1-9)

: Abraham (d. Joseph Sargent, 1994; ch. 11-25)

: Jacob (d. Peter Hall, 1994; ch. 25-33)

: Joseph (d. Roger Young, 1995; ch. 34-50)

FWIW, these four films were all part of a series that went on to feature other characters from the Bible, culminating in the CBS mini-series Jesus four years ago (when I interviewed the producer of this series, I believe he said they were thinking of making films on Paul and the Apocalypse, but I have not heard of any such films since then). My review of Creation & The Flood is here, and since my long-ago review of the other Genesis movies is not online, I might as well re-post it here. (FWIW, one thing I don't mention is that Abraham was written by Robert McKee, i.e. the screenwriting guru that Brian Cox sends up in one of the funniest scenes in Adaptation; and another thing I don't mention is that Creation & the Flood director Olmi is probably best known for The Tree with the Wooden Clogs.)

- - -

Old Testament epics capture biblical sex and violence

By Peter T. Chattaway

Christian Info News, July 1996, page 21

* Abraham (Warner Alliance, 1994)

* Jacob (Warner Alliance, 1995)

* Joseph (Warner Alliance, 1995)

BIBLE MOVIES refer so often to "the God of our fathers" it's surprising at first to discover just how little attention films have paid to the patriarchs.

There are several reasons for this. Most biblical life stories are made up of disconnected episodes that do not easily conform to the structure of a two- or three-hour film. Attempts to be "historically accurate" with Genesis falter since no one knows when these stories occurred": scholars have dated Abraham to anywhere between the 23rd and 14th centuries B.C.

Also, filmmakers face the thorny issue of "interpretation." The Bible is a book, not a movie script; for it to work on screen, it must be adapted, and therefore modified. Unfortunately, many producers have chosen to "clean up" the Bible by purging it of sex and violence and by turning its troubled protagonists into pious heroes that parents can trust.

'The Bible Collection', a new series produced for the Turner Broadcasting Network (of all things) and distributed on video by Warner Alliance, commits the latter error but not the former.

According to some scholars, Abraham and Jacob were crafty nomads who played a game of wits with God, while the younger Joseph was a braggart and a snitch whose slavery taught him a lesson in humility. Not so here.

The titular characters in these films are noble souls who speak about God's guidance even when the biblical record suggests they acted on their own impulses.

On the other hand, these videos do include most of the racier stuff. Joseph is the most daring video in this regard: the rape of Dinah, the sacking of Shechem, Reuben's affair with his father's concubine and Judah's dalliance with his daughter-in-law Tamar are all present and accounted for. These disparate elements are woven into Joseph's story without sacrificing the film's dramatic unity; the result is unexpectedly coherent, even poignant.

Joseph also benefits from the superb performances of Ben Kingsley as Potiphar and Martin Landau as Jacob. Acting in a made-for-TV Bible epic could have been an easy paycheque for either of them, but they invest their roles with intelligence and feeling. Even Strictly Ballroom's Paul Mercurio does a credible job as Joseph himself. The only embarrassments are Lesley Ann Warren, who makes Potiphar's wife a shrill, shallow seductress, and an exceptionally pretentious Pharaoh.

The other two videos frequently get their history wrong or fail to connect these stories to their original cultural context. Abraham begins admirably with Terah and his Mesopotamian landlord negotiating a "covenant," but when the time comes for God to establish a covenant of his own with Abraham (Richard Harris), the account in Genesis 15 -- a weird nighttime ritual involving dismembered animals and a levitating fire pot -- is deleted altogether.

God gives Abraham a terse order to circumcise the tribe, but we never see the kinsfolk react to the news, nor the fact that circumcision was already practiced by some surrounding cultures. Abraham tells Isaac and Ishmael that they must sacrifice not the sheep that are worth the most shekels, but the sheep that they love. Families with pets may want their children to skip this part.

The list goes on. The last of Egypt's pyramids was built centuries before these stories took place, yet here they are treated like an up-and-coming invention. The household gods that Rachel steals were more a symbol of inheritance rights than objects of religious devotion. And, as enlightened as the early Hebrews may have been, they did own slaves.

Dramatically, these films are a mixed bag. You may get more out of Abraham if you see it in 20-minute segments than if you see it all at once. Jacob suffers from a pedestrian script and really bad casting: Matthew Modine (Memphis Belle) and Lara Flynn Boyle (Threesome) are probably the least inspiring actors one could have picked for a star-crossed romance such as this.

Joseph, however, is about as rich a three-hour epic as one could want from television: complex, challenging and convincing, it has enough emotional power to draw you into its world and enough realism to make you want to stay there.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter,

Thanks for the pointer, we can now import DVDs from the US via Amazon.co.uk, which makes it a lot easier and less risky, although I don't think I'll rush out to see it.

I'll check my copy of "The Bible on Film " tonight to see what others I can contribute. OTTOMH I've thought of a couple (although both go beyond just Genesis).

In the Beginning (1998? Gen 12-Ex?)

Green Pastures (1936, various)

I've actually seen neither and very few on your list (just Huston's & Irvin's), tho' I bought a copy of Green Pastures from amazon.com, it never arrived (I did get my money back tho'!) much to my disappointment, and tho I've weighed up getting In the Beginning the remake I've decided not to. Both were with my Moses book in mind, and I decided in the end just to comment on them briefly from the available literature rather than paying thru the nose to affirm what they say.

I also think there are films from the same series that did the Greatest Heroes of the Bible late 70's TV movies that included The Story of Moses and The Ten Commandments (where Moses was played by John Marley who wakes up with the Horses Head in The Godfather, and later did The search for the historical Jesus. I saw one of these on ebay and unfortunately forgot about it at the close of bidding. missed it and then the next time some dealer bought it and wanted a lot for it. C'est la vie. They did Noah, Joseph and Abraham, and I think its fair to see them in someway the forerunners for the later Lorenzo Minoli series. oh btw their all available on one DVD now if you're interested.

as for the actual films I have see. Noah's ark was obviously terrible, possibly the worst biblical film ever made (and to win that you really have some tough competition), but I'm a big fan of La Biblia. Partly I just love the creation sequence, and I've used it in worship on several occasions. but also I think that by the end of wavering about the opening parts of Genesis it finally firmed me up that it was in some sense mythical rather than historical, altho both temrs are rather loaded and open to mis-interpretation but hopefully you see what I mean. I think I was generally of that pinion, but something about the litralness that the film applied to its story, conbined with its dark and atmospheric cinematography, just gave me a bit more confidence that that was what I believed, and I think its rare to be able to identify such moments so precisely.

Matt

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Peter

I have Campbell and Pitts "he Bible on Film" here in front of me and they list the following films which have all had a US release I believe.

Noah's Ark (1909) the first genesis film they have listed, so probably the earliest as they're relkiable like that.

Adam & Eve 1910

Cain & ABel 1910

The Deluge 1911

Adam & Eve 1912

The Wife of Cain 1913

Joseph in the Land of Egypt 1915

The Bible 1921-22

Sodom and Gomorrah 1922 & 1923 (two parts)

Noah's Ark 1928

Lot in Sodom 1933

Good Morning Eve 1934

Der Apfel ist AB 1948

Adamo ed Eva 1950

Adan y Eva 1956

Stvoreni Sveta (the creation of the World) 1958

Noah's Ark 1959

The Creation of Woman 1960

Giuseppe Venduto dei Fratelli (Joseph sold by his brothers) 1960

Adam & Eve 1962

Joseph and his brethern 1962

I Patriach della Bibbia 1963

Il Vecchio Testamento (1963)

Joseph the dreamer 1967

La Creacion 1968

El Peco de Adan Y Eva (The sin of adam and Eve) 1968

Bible 1974

The story of Jacob and Joseph 1974

In serarch of Noah's Ark

Matt

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Wow, this looks interesting -- I just discovered the film below at the local Videomatica

This film is absolutely incredible! I didn't realize it was out on video. Is it video or dvd, Peter?

I saw this in Chicago and then had the privilege of programming it for a series on Faith in Cinema at a local theater. The film is completely riveting, and its African perspective is bracing in what it emphasizes and how it contradicted (fleshed out?) my Sunday school understanding of these stories. The cinematography is awe-inspiring, and the scene when Jacob wrestles with the angel is simply one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

I can't recommend it highly enough.

J Robert

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  • 2 weeks later...

jrobert wrote:

: The film is completely riveting, and its African perspective is bracing in

: what it emphasizes and how it contradicted (fleshed out?) my Sunday

: school understanding of these stories.

Just wondering, what about this film "contradicted" your Sunday school understanding of these stories? I rented the DVD last night and liked the film a lot, but I have to admit it did stick to the text just a leetle too closely for my tastes. I mean, thanks to its fidelity to the Bible, I can happily recommend this film to my fellow Christians, and I shall, but it does feel just a bit stagey, especially when characters recite earlier portions of Genesis, and not so much like a 'drama' in its own right, if you know what I mean. Mind you, I do not hold this against the film -- the film is very good for the kind of film that it is -- I simply don't find that the film challenges my understanding of these stories in the way that you seemed to find.

For what it's worth, I remember reading through Genesis in the Living Bible when I was just 11 or so. I noticed, of course, that there was a certain, um, obsession with sexual and genital matters -- baby twins competing to stick their hands outside their mother's vagina before they are born, etc. -- and I remember getting a slight sensationalist kick out of ch. 34, which tells the story of the rape of Dinah and her brothers' murderous plan for revenge. (Ch. 38, with its seed-spilling and quasi-incestuous prostitution and so forth, was also interesting, but lacked the violence.) So I grew up knowing these stories, and several years ago, as per the review I copied above, I was quite happy to discover that the 1995 TV-movie Joseph actually got into this material, and in a way that made dramatic sense -- by setting up the sinful behaviour of Reuben (who lay with his father's concubine), Judah (who lay with his daughter-in-law, thinking she was a whore) and Simeon and Levi (who slaughtered the town of Shechem) as a contrast to the relatively righteous behaviour of Joseph. We understand Jacob's favoritism.

Sissoko's Genesis takes a different tack and shuffles the events around a bit; the story begins with the rape of Dinah (ch. 34), but in this version, Jacob's sons have already tricked their dad into thinking that Joseph is dead (which does not happen in the text until ch. 37), whereas Jacob has not yet made peace with his brother Esau (which has already happened in the text in ch. 33). So what in the scriptures is a series of crises, dealt with as they come up one at a time, is in this film a set of parallel crises which, lumped together like this, suggest that the world of Jacob and his family is now in a truly terrible state. This does work very well, dramatically: Jacob is ineffectual in dealing with the rape of his daughter, and in making peace with Esau for that matter, because he has been mourning the apparent death of Joseph for 20 months, and he simply can't be bothered to leave his tent, with rare exceptions.

I liked the way Sissoko dramatized some bits, like the part where Joseph steps outside his tent to chastise Leah and to reclaim the coat of many colours that her daughter Dinah has been washing ("Let your sons bring me his body!"). Indeed, I was struck by the pronounced role this film gives to the female characters. I have known for years about the ancient custom of showing the bloodied bedsheet to the wedding guests when a man deflowers his wife, and it was striking not only to see a variation of that ritual in film for the first time, but also to see that ritual perverted here, when a woman of Shechem brings out the sheet with Dinah's blood and brags about the dishonour that her prince has brought to Jacob's tribe. (Not exactly a wedding, this.) This is immediately followed by a remarkable scene in which Dinah talks back to her rapist's father and tells him what a REAL prince would do if he truly loved a woman. Later, we see Leah wailing and rejecting the food that Shechem's princes bring as a peace offering; and then, not long after that, we see the women of Shechem laughing as the men line up to be circumcised ("What a great time I'm having!" cackles one); and then, of course, there is the fascinating 'wrestling with the angel' sequence, which gives Dinah a special, unusual role in the proceedings. I am struck, too, by how, after the story of Judah keeping his widowed daugher-in-law away from his son is told, Judah's son addresses the daughter-in-law as "wife" and walks off with her -- I guess, now that Judah's secret has been exposed, there is no point in delaying his son's customary obligations? And yet now his son must raise his father's sons as though they were his own -- or rather, as though they were his brother's. Oh dear, this IS a dysfunctional family situation, isn't it.

The depiction of circumcision was not that convincing to me -- somehow I think it would take a little more finesse than just sticking one's penis on a piece of wood and then letting someone swing a sharp implement down upon it (whack! "Next?" whack! "Next?" whack!) -- but I did like the one son-of-Jacob's line to the effect that the prince's "crown has fallen, and he can't bend down to pick it up!" Clever double entendre, or whatever you'd call that.

I did like the way Jacob and Hamor greet each other by reciting their different -- but ultimately converging -- geneaologies. (Converging, because they are all descended from Noah.) I also liked the way Jacob tried to appeal to everyone's memory of a better time by telling the story of how his parents met -- and then how Esau interrupted the story to complain that those same parents disowned him and were responsible for the discord that now exists between these characters. The characters' constant appeal to the past felt very genuine, to me.

: The cinematography is awe-inspiring . . .

Oh, heavens, yes. And what a landscape to work with!

: . . . and the scene when Jacob wrestles with the angel is simply one of

: the most amazing things I've ever seen.

Very intriguing, to be sure.

As for the DVD, the picture quality was okay but it was obviously digital in places, so not the best possibel transfer one might have hoped for. My main complaint would be that they did not have a separate subtitle track, or a choice of subtitles in different languages, but instead, they apparently transferred the DVD from a copy of the film that already had the subtitles burned into the print. For the most part, I guess this isn't that big a deal, but it would have been nice to have SOME sort of translation of the opening crawl, which is entirely in French.

Oh, and here's an intriguing bit of trivia: Jacob is played by Sotigui Kouyat

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 11 months later...

Well I bought this with some Christmas money and finally sat down to watch it on Sunday....

JRobert said

: the scene when Jacob wrestles with the angel is simply one of the most amazing

: things I've ever seen.

Actually it didn't do much for me. I kind of liked the alternative approach, but all the children in white running around just didn't appeal, and spoilt the rest of it for me.

I have to admit it did stick to the text just a leetle too closely for my tastes. ... it does feel just a bit stagey, especially when characters recite earlier portions of Genesis, and not so much like a 'drama' in its own right, if you know what I mean.
Actually I really liked the recitation sections of the film, given that the stories were probably orally handed down for a long long time before they got written down. It gave a bit more realism to it, and the context for me really seemed to support how that might happen. It seemed natural for these people to recite stories in this way, which contrasts with how unnatural it seems for westerners (or should that be northerners?) to do the same.

Sissoko's Genesis takes a different tack and shuffles the events around a bit; the story begins with the rape of Dinah (ch. 34), but in this version, Jacob's sons have already tricked their dad into thinking that Joseph is dead (which does not happen in the text until ch. 37), whereas Jacob has not yet made peace with his brother Esau (which has already happened in the text in ch. 33).  So what in the scriptures is a series of crises, dealt with as they come up one at a time, is in this film a set of parallel crises which, lumped together like this, suggest that the world of Jacob and his family is now in a truly terrible state. 

I liked this as well. I guess we don't really know the chronology of those stories anyway, but as a filmic device it really works well, undermines the Sunday school image of how great the patriachs are, and somehow presents them altogether, to show the instability there. I've not really explainned that very well. I guess it gives ua a broad sweep of how unreliable Jacob's clan was in a single snapshot - and it tantalisingly sets the story of Joseph up as well.

I suppose given how unchronologically we tend to read scripture anyway (as in I'll read a bit from Mark, then a bit from Jeremiah, then a bit fom Genesis and then a verse from Paul etc), then I liked this as a device, The convulted plot line, with flashbacks and things seemed to flow better than the bible collection's two films Joseph and Jacob which seemd to have to introduce these stories, and other than the flashback bookends device of part 1 seemed limited (other than to introduce more fictional scenes).

I liked the way Sissoko dramatized some bits, like the part where Joseph steps outside his tent to chastise Leah and to reclaim the coat of many colours that her daughter Dinah has been washing ("Let your sons bring me his body!").  Indeed, I was struck by the pronounced role this film gives to the female characters.

I found Dinah (who was a bit of an odd character anyway - the kind of thing that will be more interesting in future viewings probably) a bit too prominent, but otherwise yes, and the range of roles was so much more satisfying than the limited stereotypes hollywood offers us.

I have known for years about the ancient custom of showing the bloodied bedsheet to the wedding guests when a man deflowers his wife, and it was striking not only to see a variation of that ritual in film for the first time, but also to see that ritual perverted here, when a woman of Shechem brings out the sheet with Dinah's blood and brags about the dishonour that her prince has brought to Jacob's tribe.
Yes absolutely - quite shocking, and if it had been made by a non-African would be quite outrageous.

The depiction of circumcision was not that convincing to me -- somehow I think it would take a little more finesse than just sticking one's penis on a piece of wood and then letting someone swing a sharp implement down upon it (whack! "Next?" whack! "Next?" whack!) .
I think I was too busy wincing to notice - defintiely the most wince worthy piece of film since There's Something About Mary. That said I would imagine that there's a good chance that Sissoko knows more about it than us. I mean it's both a popular Jewish and Islamic custom so it must go on in North Africa today, and in places where its a long way to the hospital it's probably still fairly similar. And besides if you had a large number of men to do this to, something swift, would definitely be more valued than something , more precise. The chances of one of the blokes whacking you cos of the pain halfway through is so much higher. The post op depiction of this was great though. Hamor was excellent

: The characters' constant appeal to the past felt very genuine, to me.

nod

: The cinematography is awe-inspiring . . .

Oh, heavens, yes.  And what a landscape to work with!

Nod again

As for the DVD, the picture quality was okay but it was obviously digital in places, so not the best possibel transfer one might have hoped for.  My main complaint would be that they did not have a separate subtitle track, or a choice of subtitles in different languages, but instead, they apparently transferred the DVD from a copy of the film that already had the subtitles burned into the print.  For the most part, I guess this isn't that big a deal, but it would have been nice to have SOME sort of translation of the opening crawl, which is entirely in French.

Picture quality wasn't rgreat as you say - this beiong a region 1 disc probably didn't help, and yeah I was really surprised that there were no subtitles for that opening bit. need o find someone who can speak french (or I suppose Bambam)

Matt

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Glad you liked it, MattPage! I should really see this one again some day.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 6 months later...

Link to discussion of James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber's Lot in Sodom (1933) in 'The avant-garde in narrative film.' thread.

... and now I see that MattPage already had it listed here! Interesting.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Whenever I think of Genesis in the movies, I hear this in my head:

"Genesis? Genesis is planet forbidden!"

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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Thanks for posting the link Peter. It was very timely. Our church is looking at Genesis 1-12 in the autumn so I've just bought the Bible Collection Genesis film on Amazon. (Suckers were bidding over a tenner for it on Ebay and it was there on Amazon for

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just saw the "Bible Collection" version over three insomnia punctured nights.

Peter, you didn't seem to rate it very much, where as I really loved it. I take the point you make in your review, but I'm ot sure how many films would make sense without the sound on (any film noir film for example). I thought the images gave a real poetic nature to the film, and kind of earthed it a bit more. I suppose it's sort of like a visual bible film - driven by the text, but far, far more sucessfu that that because it doesn't tie itself to a rigid literalism with the images it chooses.

Haven't the time to write more now, but I love thhe variation there is between this film, the one at the top of the thread and the John Huston one.

It's interesting though how that film takes a very literal approach which ultimately underlines the mythic nature of the text, whereas this one takes a more poetic approach which seems to support a more literal version of the text.

Bit of a random collection of thoughts, but there you go.

Matt

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Thanks, Matt -- I'll have to watch it again sometime.

Did you know that film was played theatrically here once? It was part of an Ermanno Olmi retrospective (along with Tree of Wooden Clogs, etc.). I caught several of his other films but missed this one -- perhaps because I already had it on video. Still, I can't imagine seeing any of the OTHER Bible Collection films on the big screen!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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No, they wouldn't really be worth putting up, whereas this definitely was.

Thinking about this further I realised it reminded me of the Werner Herzog film Lessons of Darkness, not just that they're shot in the middle east wink.gif, but something about the way the voiceover and the visuals work at you from different angles to create the work, rather than them complimenting each other as is more traditional.

Matt

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  • 1 month later...

Just to tidy the relevant threads etc., I make comments on In the Beginning and The Bible Collection's Jacob on the Minor Bible Films thread

I also saw Green Pastures a couple of times in prep for that TV interview thing I did last week. I'd been so keen to see it a few years ago, but when I imported it the VHS got lost in the post and all the others were up for sale at an extortionate price. Thanksfully hen I came to look at buying it this time around theree was one going not too expensively on ebay.

I had a few thoughts on it, firstly I'm unaware of a film starring God before this film. Does anyone else know of one? If not then it' interesting that the first screen appearance of God is as portrayed by a black man. Not surprising that the KKK protested this one.

There's a fair bit of discussion about the "Uncle Tom"ness of many of the portrayals and whether they are racist or not. Whilst they are a bit stereotyped, I didn't think it was particularly racist, particularly given the choice of God, and the genuine affection there seems to be fo the characters.

What's worse though is the way that the slavery and the exodus are so underdone, with no mention either of the (only relatively recent to the film) release from slavery, or the fact that (as this was pre-civil rights movement) that many blacks still existed in a kind of virtual slavery.

I also couldn't get what happened at the end of the film. We get to Moses nicely and then, rather than focussing on any of the biblical prophets it focusses on another one (whose name was entirely unfamiliar to me), and then a later jewish rebel, again hose name was unfamiliar (so it wasn't a Macabee).

The soundtrack is great, and there's some really nice gentle humour in the film, but at times the script reveals stuff about God that would probably get veggie taled under the carpet today, which is interesting as this was the story told through the eyes of children, and would appear to be very accessible for children as a result.

Has anyone else seen this?

Matt

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As I mentioned above we're looking at Genesis this autumn in our main church gatherings, so I thought I'd write about some of the various Genesis films. So for anyone who is interested...

...my Genesis Films Article is here.

Matt

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  • 2 weeks later...
The Green Pastures (1936) comes to DVD in January!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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As I mentioned above we're looking at Genesis this autumn in our main church gatherings, so I thought I'd write about some of the various Genesis films. So for anyone who is interested...

...my Genesis Films Article is here.

Matt

Helpful review, Matt! Thanks!

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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  • 6 months later...

when the time comes for God to establish a covenant of his own with Abraham (Richard Harris), the account in Genesis 15 -- a weird nighttime ritual involving dismembered animals and a levitating fire pot -- is deleted altogether.

[blink] 8O

I'd never notivced that bit before. I was just trying to find your old review of the Abraham film as part of writing my review and scene guide for the film.

Funny how one can miss these things isn't it?

Matt

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  • 1 year later...

FWIW, my sidebar on Noah's Ark movies (written as a supplement to my Evan Almighty coverage).

Also, my blog post on Michael Curtiz's semi-silent, semi-talkie Noah's Ark (1928). Here is one of two clips from the film at that blog post, courtesy of Google Video:

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 7 months later...
Link to the thread on Year One, the Judd Apatow / Harold Ramis comedy that includes Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, and who knows what else.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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