by Dick Rolfe
It should come as no surprise that Hollywood
has seen the light and rediscovered the Bible; not that they’ve become religious
in the spiritual sense. The light they see is the unprecedented success of
well-made, theologically sound movies like
The Bible miniseries, produced by
husband and wife team, Mark Burnett (The
The Apprentice, Survivor, Shark Tank) and Roma Downey (Touched by an
The five week, ten-hour History Channel series
ending on Easter Sunday was a blockbuster by any television audience standards.
The DVD sales by Fox Home Entertainment have been record-breaking. The
miniseries was such a success that 20th Century Fox is going to
theatrically release a truncated movie-length version focusing on Jesus, called
Son Of God.
Hollywood’s core business model is based on
leveraging any existing brand or property into a movie. This increases the
chance of success due to the familiarity of the subject with an existing
audience. That model is the reason we see so many adaptations, serials, sequels,
prequels, and re-dos.
Due to the success of The Bible
miniseries, three major studios are working overtime trying to transform
familiar Bible stories into “tent pole” films (today’s term for epic or pricey).
leads the pack with an updated version of Noah, starring Russell
Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins due to be released in March 28,
2014 at an estimated production budget of $130 million.
The script has not been officially released,
but several interviews with Noah writer/producer/director Darren
Aronofsky and producer Scott Franklin shed some light on their version of the
story. Aronofsky explained in an interview with The London Guardian that
he saw Noah as "a dark, complicated character" who experiences "real survivor's
guilt" after surviving the flood.
Franklin told Entertainment Weekly,
"Noah is a very short section of the Bible with a lot of gaps, so we definitely
had to take some creative expression in it. But I think we stayed very true to
the story and didn't really deviate from the Bible, despite the six-armed
angels." There are rumors that in this version, Noah approaches a race of giant
six-armed angels known as "Watchers" to rally them to his cause. (If these
angels are the “sons of God who came into the daughters of men” referenced in
Genesis 6:4, then Noah would never have approached them for help because they
were declared enemies of God.)
One more detail that may have been the result
of “creative expression” is the addition of actress Emma Watson (Hermione in
Harry Potter) as Ila, “a young woman who forms a close relationship with
Noah’s son, Shem” and becomes the adopted daughter of Noah. No such character is
mentioned in scriptures.
We cannot verify some of these stories since
they were reported prior to the completion of the final version of the
screenplay. Dove will prescreen the film and publish our review in time for our
readers to be well informed before seeing the film.
Century Fox is currently shooting their Bible epic, Exodus.
This is not to be confused with the 1960 Otto Preminger film about the founding
of the Jewish state, starring Paul Newman. This Exodus is the biblical
account of the Hebrews’ transition from captivity in Egypt to their arrival in
the “Promised Land”. The story was popularized in 1956 by Cecil B. de Mille’s
classic, The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston.
Exodus is due for US release December
12, 2014. Ridley Scott is directing this updated tale of Moses portrayed by
Christian Bale. Aaron Paul, the real life son of a Baptist minister is cast as
Joshua. Joel Edgerton (Great Gatsby, Wish You Were Here) has signed on as
The movie appears to be a faithful telling of
the Bible account. The official storyline released by Fox calls it: A
retelling of the story of Moses, from his near death as an infant to his
adoption into the Egyptian royal family, his defiance of the Pharaoh and
deliverance of the Hebrews from enslavement.
hopped on the biblical bandwagon and hired Timur Bekmambetov, known for
directing such action thrillers as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer and
Wanted to re-boot Ben Hur. This gives MGM their biblical epic
by readapting the original 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben Hur: A tale of the
It’s unclear why MGM would want to tinker with
the historic success of the 1959 William Wyler version of the religious
conversion of Judah Ben-Hur. It is one of the most popular films in history, and
the number two-ranked “Epic Film of All Time” according to the American Film
Institute. Everyone agrees that the unforgettable characters were flawlessly
portrayed by Charlton Heston and Steven Boyd.
Cast and release date for this new version of
Ben Hur have not been announced. According to insiders, the script will more
heavily explore the original story's themes of revenge and redemption. Fox will
most likely distribute the film for MGM.
The Bible is full of meaningful stories of sin
and redemption, lust and chastity, hatred and reconciliation. There are many
characters whose life stores are worth telling to the millennial generation, and
film is the most powerful communications vehicle at hand. I worry about some
filmmakers whose egos or ignorance of the subject matter will get in the way of
the essence of the stories. In order to do any religious story justice the
creative team must have an organic sense of the message and the Messenger. As
someone said recently, a good Bible storyteller must have a deep spiritual
foundation in his or her DNA.
As we do with all theatrical motion picture
releases, Dove will publish the reviews of each of these films on
the same day they are released in theaters...sooner if the studios will permit
it. Stay tuned!