Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

A boxset (well, sleeveset) of three Biblically inspired epics from Twentieth Century Fox…

THE BIBLE in the Beginning…

The book was better.

Alternatively, if you've ever found the Bible to be inaccessible and slow-going, then this big-budget extravaganza won't let you down.

Ooh, that's a bit of a back-handed compliment, and yet no matter how much I wanted to like this, the fact is that I spent every second waiting for it to finish.

I love the purity of the film-maker's apparent intentions - to film the entire Bible in painstakingly inoffensive detail - but this sticks so closely to the original text that it seems afraid to really interpret it. The acting, the pacing, the script, the editing… in 167 minutes we never even make it half way through Genesis.

Admittedly, such grand production standards probably had a lot more spectacle on the big screen, which of course it was somewhat robbed of by our 26" TV.

Available here.
The Robe (CinemaScope version)

An absolutely fine script, played very well by the cast, and with a momentum that just keeps on growing.

This intelligent story of how three very different people come to faith around the time of Christ's death and resurrection took a bit of getting into initially, but gradually drew me in via strong characterisation and a very well realised world.

Although the Easter story is well known, that of the early apostles is less so, however this narrative fleshes out the church of the first everyday Christians - not the famous ones - with care and thought.

I think it's even better than Ben Hur.

Available here.
Demetrius And The Gladiators

Sequel to The Robe, which throws enough challenges at the key surviving character's faith to break it.

Demetrius (Victor Mature) loses his freedom, his friends, and the woman he loves, all the while attempting to remain true to his convictions about Jesus' message of peace and non-hostility. Faced with fighting another gladiator to the death, he refuses, knowing that it will be the end of him. Faced with fighting a tiger to the death… well, he's not so sure about that one.

Eventually, despite all his experiences in the first film, he goes over to the dark side, which is great deep stuff, right up until when it conveniently turns out that his lady love was not dead after all. Really, there's no message of Jesus' hope for the hopeless in there.

For me, the highlight of perhaps both movies has to lie in Jay Robinson's bonkers portrayal of Emperor Caligula, whose paranoid delusions of godhood make him not just the villain, but surely also the comic relief. Whenever Chris Barrie plays Arnold Rimmer going mad in Red Dwarf, this must be the lunatic he's basing it on…

"Release the tigers!"

"We will proceed with the marriage of life and death!"

(I now understand his henchman to have actually been called 'Macro', but nonetheless various commands do seem to be enthusiastically issued to one 'Mackerel')

Worthy sequel, made all the more special by their rarity in this era.

Available here.

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