Wednesday, April 8, 2020

By the Gods!

George C. Scott as Abraham

THE BIBLE: IN THE BEGINNING...(1966) starring George C. Scott, Richard Harris, Ava Gardner and a host of actors from all over the world. Directed by John Huston.

This review won't be long. First off, I don't consider this movie a disaster by any means. The production is excellent and the cast is stellar. This review is all about the final product. It is very episodic. It's sorta like an anthology with God being the wraparound story which glues the whole thing together. Therefore, this episodic aspect was to be expected. The problem it creates is that we really don't get to know anyone. The Caine and Abel story is briefly touched upon, and before you know it, that story is over and moves along to the next part of the Old Testament, or to be more precise, the Book of Genesis. The bulk of the movie is about Noah's ark, which has some fun moments and it's well executed, considering the complicated circumstances of filming such a story. But this part also suffers from the same fate as all other parts: we never really get to know anyone. Aside from Noah (John Huston), all other characters are basically non-existent. The rest of the stories from the Old Testament continue with this approach.

Richard Harris as Cain. 

It's a great production with few people to relate with or empathize with. As a recreation of moments from the bible, it's quite epic in scope. But few characters come alive, which is sad because there are so many rich characters to work with.

John Huston as Noah. Actor, director, narrator. 

One can sorta view the movie as some sort of ego trip on Huston's part. He's director, actor and narrator. The film is more experimental than it needed to be, which one can view as Huston's attempt to compete with such directors as Fellini or Kubrick.

My only critique of the production itself is that it's very dark, in tone but mostly in cinematography. It's one of the darkest films ever made. You can barely make out what's gong on in many scenes.

 Can you see what's going on here?

An unrecognizable Stephen Boyd as Nimrod. Here, Nimrod is supposed to be standing on top of the Tower of Babel. In order to recreate the sense of height, these scenes were shot on the edge of a tall hill. It's pretty obvious in the movie and one of the few fails of the otherwise excellent production.

 Beautiful scene. With Zoe Sallis as Hagar. 

The intermission occurs 83 minutes into the the nearly 3 hour movie. Just right after the Noah's Ark story and resumes with the Tower of Babel story. A fairly early intermission compared to other movies.

So, great production but very cold and aloof when it should have been awe inspiring.

Side note: this film was released just as the PEPLUM craze basically died. It wasn't a financial disaster but it wasn't a runaway hit as well. This was intended to be part of a series of movies based on the Old Testament, hence the 'IN THE BEGINNING...' part but the expected sequels were never made.

I have the regular DVD release and the Blu-ray release. The Blu-ray is spectacular but as dark as the regular DVD edition.

6 out of 10.

1 comment:

Scott Ochiltree said...

Sounds terrible to me. As I have commented previously, overtly religious movies generally do not work very well.

Successful ones include FABIOLA, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, BEN HUR, THE ROBE, DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS AND REVOLT OF THE SLAVES. Except for the ten commandments none of these are directly based on THE BIBLE.

The rest of them are just too syrupy for my non-religious taste.