- Directed by John Huston
- September 28, 1966 (NYC) / October 13, 1966 (Italy)
The first 22 chapters of the Book of Genesis, from Adam and Eve to the binding of Isaac.
They do not make Biblical epics like this anymore. Big budgets and definitely Biblically inspired. Too often they tone down the religion to the point of God and faith being more of an afterthought than an important part of the story. And they fail to understand the material believing what they are doing is no different than any other big budget film. There most certainly is a difference between Avengers and any Star Wars film.
The scale of The Bible: In the Beginning… is grand and the tone reverential without beating you over the head with its spirituality. It just generally slips it in. If there is a message here-and there is-it is of the great and awesome power of God, but like a good message film it puts story first with the message being second. You must tell a good story first in order to get whatever message you intend across to the viewer.
John Huston certainly was not a humble man when it came to this. Not only does he serve as Noah for the portion of the film covering The Great Flood, but he also serves as director along with being the voice of God. Not that it hurts of the storytelling. I just found it ballsy.
The movie has a very talented cast bringing the various books to life. Besides Huston we have Michael Parks, Richard Harris, Franco Nero, Stephen Boyd, George C. Scott, Ava Gardner, Peter O’Toole, and Gabriele Ferzetti. All talented and none seeking to garner more of the scene than the material dictated.
The Bible: In the Beginning… is beautifully shot. And the effects used in this film largely hold up if not are superior to some of the CGI work brought forth today. It’s a mixture of matte paintings and perspective shots and so forth coupled with dramatic music. These are just artistic visuals to not only tell the story but bring about a sense of the Almighty on the screen.
Nearest I can tell this is faithful not only to the narrative but also to the language used in The Bible. That there I find a little off-putting. Using thee and thou does not lend to accessibility for modern or the more religiously casual viewer. Who uses those now or when this movie came out?! I would suggest simply to use the modern equivalent.
I’m not saying take artistic license and give Noah a duck boat to go out and look around or cranes used during the Tower of Babel. Rather there is a need to update the language and maybe add a line or two that explains elements for the casual Christian or the just generally uninitiated. Not everybody has taken a deep dive before watching nor read a religious primer.
This truly is in the beginning. This covers the first 22 books of the Old Testament. This was intended as the first in a series of films adapting The Bible that never came to be. That also means things can move rather quickly and tone can vary depending on what they are covering.
The costuming is absolutely fantastic. And the direction under the gifted hand of John Huston is superb. Its main flaw is not bringing things into more modern speech. That is clearly a big issue for me as this is the second time I have mentioned it.
The Bible: In the Beginning… is a well-done Biblical epic that suffers largely from the language. Other than that, it’s a fine film. However, because of language it might be a bit off-putting to the general audience so proceed with caution, but I do think you should check it out.