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The Bible - Apocalypse revelation  rating

Review: written 2007

Bold and surprisingly pretty good finale to The Bible series

This was one of Richard Harris' last roles before he died, and while it might not match his best or more popular work, it is a surprisingly strong turn in a difficult role.

In fact, the whole idea of this movie could be described as `difficult'. How on earth do you produce a piece of entertainment which effectively shows the events of the Book of Revelation? Surely it is unfilmable. Well, the filmmakers have taken a very sensible approach and concentrated on the circumstances round the writing of the book, and in particular, its assumed author, John the Apostle. Really this movie is about him and the period during which the visions came to him. As such, we are necessarily left with a piece of fiction, since the details we know from history are sketchy - all that is actually known is that someone known as John, assumed by most to be the Apostle John, was banished to the island of Patmos where he received a series of revelations which he recorded as letters to the churches, and were later compiled as the Book of Revelations.

The plot then focuses on the history of the time, and the net closing in on John, the last remaining Apostle. The net closes in on two fronts... firstly, the church in Ephesus sends Irene, a beautiful young Christian, to find out where John is, because they feel that they need to have him in person to save them. In an interesting theme, the churches lack of faith in the letters without seeing the man in person echoes the Apostle's lack of faith unless they saw Christ resurrected in person. Meantime, the Romans have sent a spy to infiltrate the Christian prisoners in the mine on Patmos, flush John out and identify him in order that he be executed. John's only certain ally other than his deep faith, is his friend and acolyte Theophilus, who is his scribe.

It is against this backdrop of fictional drama, that we see John receive his revelations. These are mostly cgi, and although clearly on a budget, actually done pretty well. I thought the four men of the apocalypse were done particularly well, where we see something allegorical linked to the actual. In one scene we see the horseman of war, and then in the next we see the Roman Legion killing an entire village of Christians - and the image of the latter echoes the image of the former.

The whole effect is to give a pretty good idea of the times in which these revelations were received, and to convey the idea that the very receiving of these visions and their subsequent telling in the form of letters, actually kick starts the events which they depict, events which of course continue now.

The plot such as it is hangs together well, and the construct is a good one for putting a framework to something that otherwise would be incomprehensible as cinematic entertainment or even as teaching.

The Bible series has gone out on a relative high with this final instalment - worth a watch both as the final in an interesting if variable quality series, and as a final last gasp from the late, great Richard Harris. Thumbs up.

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