Review of The Bible miniseries from the history channel

the bible miniseries

 

The Bible isn’t exactly something easy to depict on screen. There are enormous cultural differences and eons of time that stand between the writing of the text and our modern times. It’s almost too much to understand, let alone dramatize for TV. So I understand how hard an undertaking that is, and can appreciate that the filmmakers were willing to open themselves up to the criticism that will undoubtedly come.

I really wanted to like this series. Leading up to The Bible’s debut, I heard constant chatter on facebook and twitter about how amazing this was set to be.  So many Christian “celebrities” threw themselves behind it (the likes of Joel Osteen and Rick Warren).

I really wanted to like this for a reason, because as a Christ follower I believe there is great depth, beauty, poetry and truth in the Bible that can be brought to life. In my opinion The Bible jumped from story to story, rather than really getting to heart of it.  By only covering the highlights and leaving so much out I believe they created a shallow experience for the viewer.  For example, the story of Moses and the Israelites being freed from Egyptian slavery is a monumental story in the Old Testament. Imagine a 15-minute drama attempting to cover the abolition of slavery in the United States, it just isn’t possible to convey the substance of it all in such a short time. Likewise the treatment of this story was lacking the depth and soul that would have come from a little more time and detail.

They seemed to be more focused on making it look “cool” with GC effects and epic sounding music than digging into the emotion of the story. The ironic thing is that so much of the show was moments of high emotion, but you can’t connect with it because there was no depth to the characters and their relationships–so it’s hard to share in these moments with the characters when you weren’t there for the build up (metaphorically). For those who were raised in the church and are ultra familiar with these stories, it will be easy to fill in the blanks, but not everyone has that background.

I understand that all the nuances of these biblical accounts can’t be fleshed out in such a short time, but after watching I couldn’t help but wish they had focused on one, or maybe two stories rather than the “highlight reel” approach.

I still plan on watching the next episode of the series. Maybe I will be surprised and be able to get into it more. I can’t wait to see!

 

J’s Opinion:

As like Sarah, I really wanted this to be an epic Tolkien style account of the Bible. The possibilities of the stories that are there could be drafted into a spectacular script. I’m picturing clips of the battle scenes from Middle Earth, well, yes its TV, so maybe more like the battle scenes from Hercules featuring Kevin Sorbo or Xena the Warrior Princess featuring Lucy Lawless.

The trailers leading up looked pretty promising and we were planning on sitting down and following along with the beginning episode of the greatest story ever told. I quickly got over the accents, the usual traditional costumes used for these types of dramas and similar style to Hercules and Xena the Warrior Princess.

I wasn’t totally disappointed; the Asian martial artist angel sent into Sodom seriously kicks some ass with dual wielding swords (00:26:29). However, my enthusiasm was quickly deflated when we came to the story of Moses and the Exodus.

The first clip was of Moses (played by Jack Gleeson from Game of Thrones) and the child version of the future Pharaoh dueling it out with swords. I couldn’t help but think of King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, the sniveling weasel king… anyways, moving on. The wider shots of the Israelite slaves just repeatedly being whipped (00:42:04) plays into the memories of the previous versions of these stories, and not an adult mature version. We know that if a slave was constantly whipped he wouldn’t work, and the slavers arms would get pretty tired after a long day of whipping innocent slave workers. The slave would be conditioned to work with the fear of pain as the motivation to continue working – I guess the reason I find these scenes frustrating, is because its like a remake of a remake of a remake, it’s the same bible images from felt board cutouts in Sunday school and the Hannah Barbara version– right down to the stripped cloak Moses wears .

The last disappointment I’ll point out is another Israelite slavery scene: there are a few times where there are two thin workers walking around with a stone on a stretcher (00:42:19). The stone is about 1.5ft by 3ft and the two guys are walking around like its no problem “just heading up to the pyramid with this 700lb stone”, I wish that was rethought, I don’t remember reading about the immense super powers of the Israelites, however on second thought, I guess that would answer the age old question how the pyramids were built…

That’s my take.