Watch: Peter leaves his daughter in the first trailer for A.D.

vlcsnap-2014-11-26-13h42m52s105The first trailer for A.D., the semi-sequel, semi-reboot of The Bible, is here, and it delivers about what you’d expect: a replay of the events that were covered in the last two episodes of The Bible, violence between Romans and Jews, and so on.

It also hints at one story element that I don’t think I’ve seen in a Bible movie before: namely, a subplot in which Peter worries about his daughter, who likewise worries about him. A few films have acknowledged the brief reference in the gospels to Peter’s mother-in-law. But I can’t think of any that have mentioned Peter’s daughter, who comes not from the gospels but from later legends. So, it will be interesting to see what the new series does with that.

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Al Pacino taking his Salome movies to the UK in September

A film that I’ve been waiting almost a decade to see… is going to be screened in England later this year.

The first time I wrote about Al Pacino’s plan to make a movie about Oscar Wilde’s Salome — mixing behind-the-scenes footage with dramatized sections of the play — was in April 2006, only a year or so after I started this blog. At the time, the film was going to be called Salomaybe?, and it was set to star Pacino as King Herod, Kevin Anderson as John the Baptist and Jessica Chastain as Salome. (This was five years before The Tree of Life and The Help put her on the map.)

Then, in March 2007, the film was in post-production.

Then, in February 2009… the film was still in post-production.

Shortly after that, I went on a bit of a blogging hiatus that lasted about three years, until I joined Patheos in 2012. But apparently the film was eventually finished and it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2011, under a new title: Wilde Salomé.

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Bible movie of the week: The Big Fisherman (1959)

Four years ago, I wrote a blog post on The Big Fisherman (1959), one of the more obscure Bible movies ever released by a major Hollywood studio.

As far as I know, the film, which was originally distributed by Walt Disney’s Buena Vista division, has never been officially released to home video, at least not in North America. But I had read a bit about it in books on the history of Jesus movies — the title refers to the apostle Peter — and I was intrigued by the information I found at the Internet Movie Database.

For one thing, the film is based on a novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, who also wrote The Robe, which 20th Century Fox turned into a much more famous film in 1953. For another, it seemed that this film might rely on the secular account of Herod Antipas and John the Baptist given to us by Josephus, which no other film I could think of had ever done.

And what did the apostle Peter have to do with any of this? I had no idea, but I was curious to find out.

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The Bible: third episode, first impressions

Three down, two to go! Here are my first impressions of the third episode of The Bible, which ended the Old Testament section of the mini-series and began the New Testament section.

Continuity between Bible stories, redux. For all my grumbling about the series to date, there is one thing about it that I have always appreciated, and that is the way it links the various Bible stories, whether by having characters in one story recall what their ancestors did in another, or by having the angels appear in multiple stories wearing the exact same clothes, etc. And the first half of this episode is seriously impressive on that level.

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Review: The Nativity Story (dir. Catherine Hardwicke, 2006)

The Passion of The Christ was an independent movie, paid for entirely out of Mel Gibson’s pocket. The Prince of Egypt was an animated film that emphasized the common ground between Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Last Temptation of Christ was a low-budget art-house flick based on a heretical novel.

You would have to go back at least as far as King David, the mid-1980s box-office flop starring Richard Gere, to find another live-action movie produced by a major Hollywood studio and based directly on the Bible. And you would have to go back even further — to the bathrobe epics of the 1960s, at least — to find a mainstream biblical movie that was as blatantly Christian as The Nativity Story.

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Come and See: How Movies Encourage Us to Look at (and with) Jesus

In orthodox Christian belief, Jesus is both God and man, fully divine and fully human. And it is because God has revealed himself in the form of a particular person who lived in a particular time and a particular place that Christians down through the ages have generally felt free to portray Jesus in icons, passion plays, and other forms of religious art. But except for the most basic and theologically essential points, such works of art generally pass over the particularities of Jesus’s life. His humanity, expressed in the mere fact that he can be depicted at all, is often balanced with his divinity by a degree of artistic abstraction: Whether depicting Christ in static paintings or following the stations of the cross according to a set pattern, artists have tended to downplay realistic or naturalistic details to focus on the more eternal truths.

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