Newsbites: The biblical themes edition!

Just catching up on a few items I’ve had sitting around for a while, plus one new item that surfaced today.

1. Carolyn Arends has written an article for CT Movies on Magdalena: Released from Shame, the latest film to mix brand-new, demographically-targeted footage with footage from the Campus Crusade for Christ movie Jesus (1979). The interesting thing about this film — unlike, say, The Story of Jesus for Children (2000) — is that the new footage features at least one character who was also part of the original film, but presumably played by a different actor. So is the character played by two different women in the new film? Did they re-shoot any of the older scenes? Did they digitally insert the new actress into the older scenes? I am curious, especially in light of the article’s description of how the filmmakers tried to insert new footage of Jesus into the film.

2. Speaking of movies that fictionalize and recontextualize stories from the Bible, Books & Culture has an article looking at how Evan Almighty (2007) functions within the “ancient tradition of Ark midrash” because it is “an appropriation of the flood story that reflects the needs and contexts of its readers.” In related news, Carolyn Arends has another item up at Christianity Today in which she springs off a scene in Evan Almighty to muse on the relationship between God’s wrath and God’s love.

3. Variety has a review of El cant dels ocells, AKA Birdsong, a Spanish film that played at Cannes a couple weeks ago:

Patience was no doubt required of the Three Wise Men as they made their way toward Bethlehem, and the same will be required of auds who seek out “Birdsong,” Albert Serra’s minimalist reinterpretation of the Magi’s journey. Hushed, contemplative but often quite droll experiment offers beautifully sculpted images on a black-and-white canvas across its sometimes hypnotic, sometimes tedious runtime. . . .

Three robed men (all played by thesps with the first name Lluis) tread very, very slowly across a craggy landscape, bickering comically over how they should proceed in their search for the Christ Child. Grounded in desert dunes and rocky ruins, pic reps a profound attempt to locate the spiritual within the material. . . .

This reminds me, I have wanted to see Ermanno Olmi’s Cammina, cammina (1982), which also concerns the journey of the Magi, for some time, but none of the local video stores seem to have it.

4. Variety reports that NBC likes what it has seen of the pilot episode for Kings, Michael Green’s modernized take on the rivalry between Saul and David, and has picked it up as a series, starring Ian McShane and Christopher Egan.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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