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The Bible Movie Review

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1966 – John Huston –

The idea for a film about the Bible was hardly an original one. Various biblical stories have been adapted for both stage and screen, but thankfully John Huston's three-hour account of that all-time best-selling book ends with Genesis, chapter twenty-two.

The movie begins with a very dark yet spectacular rendition of the Creation and creeps along to cover the banishment of Adam and Eve (Michael Parks and Ulla Bergryd) from the Garden of Eden and the story of Cain and Abel (Richard Harris and Franco Nero). Noah's Ark and the story of Abraham and Sarah (George C. Scott and Ava Gardner) receive the most time with briefer segments on the Tower of Babel, Sodom, and Hagar and Ishmael (Zoe Sallis and Luciano Conversi) thrown in for good measure. The film remains reasonably true to the source material, but some artistic license is exercised when Sarah recites a passage from the Song of Solomon (yet to exist) and Abraham, on his way to sacrifice Isaac (Alberto Lucantoni), gives an angry soliloquy that sounds more Shakespearean than biblical.

The proportions of The Bible are truly epic. Filmed on location in Italy and Africa, the desert scenes are expansive with abundant nomadic extras and plenty of goats. Noah's Ark is titanic and, with a little help from Yahweh, unsinkable. Although it disrupts the flow of the film with its vague and confusing presence, the tower of Babel is still most impressive as is King Nimrod's stylized eye makeup. However, time has drained much of the shock from the Sodom and Gomorrah sequence. While many of the special effects continue to work, the characters aren't nearly as convincing. John Huston's Noah provides much needed comic relief at times and is delightful to watch, Ava Gardner very touchingly captures the sadness and shame of barrenness, and Peter O'Toole is mysterious and ethereal as the three angels. But the remainder of the cast is alternately cardboard or melodramatic.

Cast: Michael Parks (Adam), Ulla Bergryd (Eve), Richard Harris (Cain), John Huston (Noah), Stephen Boyd (Nimrod), George C. Scott (Abraham), Ava Gardner (Sarah), Peter O'Toole (the Three Angels), Zoe Sallis (Hagar), Gabriele Ferzetti (Lot), Eleonora Rossi-Drago (Lot's wife), Franco Nero (Abel), Pupella Maggio (Noah's wife), Robert Rietty (Abraham's steward), Alberto Lucantoni (Isaac), Luciano Conversi (Ishmael) Screenwriter: Christopher Fry Cinematographer: Giuseppe Rotunno Composer: Toshiro Mayuzumi Producer: Dino DeLaurentiis for Twentieth Century Fox Running Time: 174 minutes Format: VHS Awards: Academy Awards, 1966: Nominations: Best Original Score (Toshiro Mayuzumi) Budget: $18M Box Office: $15M.

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