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The Bible… In The Beginning  rating

Review: written 2007

Epic but somewhat dispassionate depiction of the book of Genesis

This is an immense production, as befits such a broad scope of story as the whole of Genesis. The stars come thick and fast as you expect from a 60's biblical epic - Richard Harris, John Huston (who filled in when Charlie Chaplin declined the part of Noah), Franco Nero, Ava Gardner, George C Scott, amongst others. However, the film covers so much varying ground, from a very long opening sequence of the earth being made with dramatic Stravinsky like music playing over it, to the intimate story of Abram and his wife Sara longing for a child after the time has passed when she can bear, only to be asked to give Isaac up to God, that there is little emotional impact. It's the last story (Abraham) which plays best as a movie, with effective performances and genuine story arc. The rest feels shoehorned in, with a slot given to Noah, a very short slot with Stephen Boyd (from Ben-Hur) building the Tower of Babel, Cain and Abel - the Genesis highlights as it were.

As noble as it seems to make the movie of the Bible taking as few liberties as possible (though rest assured, liberties are taken), the fact is a movie has to have a narrative that involves the viewer on some basic level - and that is where this movie fails, or at least only intermittently succeeds.

It's a grand undertaking, worth watching as a curiosity, but too overblown and all-encompassing to be a classic.

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