Sunday, August 30, 2009

Genesis - The Movies? (Or the Movies that Could Be)

My wife and I just began the process of trying to read the entire Bible in 90 days. The first four days of this project lead us to quickly read through the book of Genesis.

When I ever I read Genesis I am struck by so many things, but this past time reading quickly, one of the things that struck me was the unique stories in the narrative.

These stories are rich, with unique character of all sorts, there is love, romance, aberrant sexuality, some violence, a lot of deception, and family drama. Oh boy, is there family drama.

Genesis on Film: What Exist

Yet, when I think about films that portray any of these narratives, the list of major work is short. It is interesting because in the world of art, these stories have multiple representation, but in film the pickings are slim.

Honestly, the strongest work I can think of is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is really a Broadway play, but I know there's been film versions or taped stage productions (see Donny Osmond above as Joseph).

There's also the avent-garde Mike Figgis film about Adam & Eve, and his own sexuality that I passed on, called The Loss of Sexual Innocents.

And then there a few Noah stories that are hardly narrative re-creations, Evan Almighty & in Fantasia 2000 the scene to Elgar's Pomp and Circumstances with Donald Duck as Noah.

There's also at least one version of John Milton'sParadise Lost that has been greenlighted for some time, that is set to come out in 2011, directed by Scott Derrickson.

Genesis on Film: What There Could Be

I'm sure there's been other attempts and films that I'm missing...but I think I know there could be something big, something interesting, something dramatic...something that matches the power of Ridley Scott's Gladiator in it's story telling, scope, and style.

I think creation, Adam & Eve, and other Genesis stories would be hard to tell on film.

My two choices for Genesis themed films would be...

1. The story of the Tower of Babel (pictured right is Pieter Bruegel's painting "The Tower of Babel").

The Babel narrative involves the King Nimrod who after the flood and the expansion of the human race begins to develop and empire and desires for people to be together and powerful in one place in stead of spreading out like God intends for his people to do. God punishes these early people by confusing their language.

I think of telling of Babel could be incredible. It could have incredible cinematic style, drama, and the power of a sweeping historical film, never told before with such magnitude.

2. My second choice would be a full blown telling of Jacob. This would include his mother's deception to obtain the birth right and blessing from his father Isaac, stealing it from Esau, with the help of his mother Rebekah, and then the love story of Jacob and Rachel, despite the challenges Rachel & Leah's father Laban places in his way. It could end there with the romance, or continue with his wrestling with God/Angel and the changing of his name to Israel.

Posts in the series: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy


Peter T Chattaway said...

For what it's worth, I posted a list of Genesis films here two months ago, around the time Year One came out.

Matt Page has also been keeping tabs on films like these at his Bible Films Blog.

RC said...

@ Peter - thanks Peter for the link - superhelpful. Still no Babel movie though - I want to see Nimrod play a prominent role on screen!

Peter T Chattaway said...

Well, there's a brief sequence devoted to the Tower of Babel in 1966's The Bible: In the Beginning... -- it even features Nimrod, played by Stephen Boyd (he was the bad guy in the 1959 version of Ben-Hur) -- and the Tower of Babel also figures in the prologue to 1928's Noah's Ark (you can watch that prologue here). But yeah, those are basically just cameos. I don't know if the Tower has ever been given the leading role in a movie.

Daniel said...

Interesting thoughts - I think the Tower of Babel really would be interesting. Funny that "Babel" stole the name a couple years ago.

Anonymous said...

@ Daniel G. ...I was thinking the same thing about the title "Babel" being taken by that Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchet movie from a couple of years ago.

I also think that a movie about Jacob could make for a quality, interesting, movie.

Jacob said...

Yeah the telling of the story of Jacob could be an epic. He stole birthrights and then wrestled with God, pretty cool guy with a good name.

Matt Page said...

You know I think there is a film on the Tower of Babel, I just can't quite remember what it is off the top of my head. I'll consult the books and let you know.