What's up with the Bible movies?

I like biblical epics as much as the next biblical epic loving guy, but I thought the genre had come and gone, save a few recent takes like The Last Temptation of Christ, The Nativity, and The Passion, which I turned off during the flogging/little claws ripping flesh scene.

So now we have yet another Jesus movie (Son of God), a great flood movie with Russel Crowe as Noah (but can they out-flood 2012? :D), and I just read that they’re doing Moses again (Exodus) with Christian Bale as Moses and Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) as Joshua.

Is there a particular reason for this? coincidence? keeping up with the Joneses (esp. Noah vs. Exodus)?

I think sci-fi, fantasy, and superheroes are getting played out, but Hollywood still wants to make big special effects extravaganzas. Biblical epic movies can provide that and get the Christian market into the theaters. “Noah” looks awful, though.

Well, Hollywood has always made movies based on best-selling books.

I think the Bible series that was on TV a year or so ago got much better ratings than anyone expected.


What? No, “In a world…”?

Here’s my conspiracy theory explanation.

Christian fundamentalist gazillionaires are concerned that the young are no longer turning to the bible for the answers to their questions, so they are funding biblical epics to appeal to the younger movie-going demographic.

Well, the first big biblical epic craze was in the 50’s and 60’s, right? So other than the few biggies you’ve mentioned since that period, there haven’t been that many and it makes sense (or anyway isn’t too surprising) that the genre would be resurrected after 50+ years. Genres go through cycles; I guess we’re entering a mini-cycle of biblical epics.

So, it’s like climate change? Man-made or naturally occurring?

Opps. That was meant for the thread about the trailer for “Noah.”

The Son of God movie is re-edited from that Bible miniseries. And I doubt that the Noah and Exodus movies are the result of that miniseries, since the production times are so long. Presumably they were already under way.

I didn’t know that. My wife wants to go see it next weekend, but we saw the miniseries already.

Perhaps the fact that it is Lent affected the timing of the releases.

The Noah movie looks goofy from the trailer - they seem to be trying to re-invent it as “Lord of the Ark” instead of LOTR, with battle scenes. I don’t know anything about the Exodus movie, which I hadn’t heard of until now.

I saw a cartoon written by a pastor some years back. They were re-issuing the Bible in movies. The Old Testament was called “God”. Then a sequal - the New Testament was “Son of God”.


But…we all know how they end.

I enjoyed last night’s SNL skit derived from this trend - “Adam and Eve” starring Lena Dunham as a naked, naively questioning, feminist, extremely annoying Eve.

Heck, I still remember when, lo, in the time of the elders, during Holy Week the local movie houses and TV stations would all go Biblical repertoire. Then came Cable TV and Home Video and so much for that.

Yeah, that’s what I got too. Maybe they’re worried we still have* Evan Almighty *too freshly etched in our minds;)? Thing is, in Genesis the story that’s an action/adventure movie with multiple battles, fiery natural disasters and illicit sex clearly narrated on the page, is the Abraham story. With the Noah story people normally expect a disaster/survival story so you have to sell it to them as “hey, it’s not just a big boat and a lot of water! this is about God smiting some suckers!” Well, if in the lead-up part they bring up what would mean to actually have the Nephilim walk the Earth, that would be different.
(My current fave recent pop rendering of Genesis is Robert Crumb’s 2009 graphic-novel version. The text is just Genesis itself; the art is Bob trying to play it straight but it IS most unmistakably Crumb so let’s just say it’s for grownups or mature teens and it’s not going to be sold at any Baptist bookstores)

Always a problem with biblical epics (or with any really well-known story, for instance.) I thought DeMille handled it well in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, where everyone except Moses (Heston) and Pharaoh (Yul Brenner) seem to know what’s going on, and there’s just enough winking at the audience.

My guess on why the sudden bunch: the shift in politics towards the right has brought lots of the bible-thumpers to the fore, and that’s potentially a large audience… if they play it right (far right.)

"Am I on Candid Camera?"

I don’t think it’s true that there has been a significant number of Biblical films recently. There have always been a fair number of them. Would someone create a chronological list using this Wikipedia entry (or anything else you can use to order them)?:


Then it should be possible to do a chi-square test based on the year each one was produced. I think you’ll see that there has never been a significantly large number of them in any one year. If you look at any randomly distributed sequence, to the ordinary human eye it will appear that there are a few cases where there are many more things in certain categories than others. That’s not really true though. A mathematical test (like the chi-square) will show that there isn’t any significantly larger numbers in any category.

This atheist will be first in line to see Noah. Why? It’s a Darren Aronofsky movie, written and directed. This is only his 6th feature film, after Pi, Requiem For A Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and Black Swan. While there could always be a first time, he hasn’t steered me wrong yet. To me his films are at best brilliant, at worst fascinating.

I’ll be there for Exodus too, because of Christian Bale, and because Ridley Scott still has points for Alien and Blade Runner, even if the points are dwindling fast.

Believe it or not, there are major swaths of the country where Biblical epics (and Christian Rock) are quite popular. Put Jesus or the heroes of the Old Testament in 'em and they will not lose money, provided you don’t try to release them near NY or LA. Similarly, there’s a bottomless appetite in some markets for children’s movies, mercenary action flicks starring Lorenzo Lamas, redneck comedy, and fat black comedians dressed like old women. No mystery here.

And, hey, no author royalties.