The first officially released footage from Noah is here!

We live in an age when studios don’t just release teasers and trailers for their movies, they also release sneak previews of the teasers and trailers themselves. And so it came to pass that, today, the Entertainment Tonight website released an 18-second clip from the trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, the full version of which will apparently premiere on the show tomorrow.

The puzzling thing is, the website might have un-released the preview, too. Their search engine says it should be viewable here, but every time I try to go to that URL, I get redirected to their home page and there is a “page not found” message in the new URL.

However, the embed code that various other sites are using still seems to work, so you can watch the preview for yourself below the jump (warning: you may or may not first have to watch an ad that may or may not be longer than the preview itself).

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Abraham and the Three Visitors: five filmed interpretations

Fred Clark posted an item last night in which he expressed surprise that the story of Abraham and the three visitors in Genesis 18 is a lot stranger than he had thought. For one thing, Abraham and the visitors eat a meal that mixes meat and dairy, and would therefore be regarded as non-kosher by many of Abraham’s descendants. But, more crucially, Clark notes that one of the three visitors — who are often called “angels” — seems to be God himself. A walking, talking, eating God.

Personally, I’m surprised that Clark is surprised by that last bit, partly because it has always seemed clear to me that one of the three visitors is God himself. It’s certainly implicit in the text itself — not least because, after God finishes “standing” with Abraham and discussing the fate of Sodom with him, only two of the three visitors arrive in Sodom itself. Presumably God himself was the third visitor.

But beyond the text itself, nearly every single dramatized version of this story that I have seen has suggested that there was something different about one of the three visitors. So I had always assumed that that was a standard interpretation of the text, if not the standard interpretation of the text.

Here is how five different films and TV shows have dealt with this story.

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The latest attempt to film all four gospels word-for-word

Every now and then, someone embarks on a quixotic quest to film the entire Bible, word for word. In the 1970s, the Genesis Project got as far as filming the books of Genesis and Luke, the latter of which was condensed into the Jesus film that is now distributed by Campus Crusade. More recently, there was the Visual Bible, which produced adaptations of Matthew and Acts in the 1990s and then, after a change of ownership, an adaptation of The Gospel of John in 2003.

Yesterday I came across what seems like a more modest project: an attempt to film all four gospels under the collective title the Lumo Project.

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How do you promote a Bible epic when you’re not religious?

Ridley Scott first revealed that he was making a life-of-Moses movie while promoting Prometheus last year. I’d been hoping that he would spill even more details about the film, now called Exodus, while promoting his latest film, The Counselor, but alas, that film didn’t get much of a promotional push (and it ended up having one of the worst opening weekends of Scott’s career).

A few tidbits about Exodus have trickled out, however. First, Scott told The New York Times: “I’m an atheist, which is actually good, because I’ve got to convince myself the story works.” And then, he told Empire magazine the film will be “fucking huge.”

Suffice it to say, this is not how Bible epics have generally been promoted in the past.

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Cyrus the Great — a Persian king ready for his close-up?

Last week, the LA Weekly posted an item about the Cyrus Cylinder, an ancient Persian artifact that is currently touring American museums.

The blog post notes that the Cylinder is widely regarded as the first known declaration of human rights, and it goes on to suggest that Americans of Iranian descent will be “eager for the opportunity to remember and embrace a noble part of their identity that’s not yet been desecrated by Hollywood (we’re looking at you, 300)”.

This got me thinking: how often has Cyrus been depicted in film? (300 took place about 50 years after his death, during the reign of Xerxes.) To what extent has his role in history — as one of the more enlightened conquerors of ancient times — been recognized on the big screen, or on the small screen for that matter?

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Quick updates on two of next year’s big Bible movies

Son of God, the big-screen movie spun off from this year’s hit mini-series The Bible, finally has a release date: February 28, 2014.

Not coincidentally, one assumes, that’s just a few days before Lent: in the Eastern churches next year, Lent begins on Monday March 3, while in the Western churches it begins on Ash Wednesday or March 5.

A press release announcing the release date confirms that the film will feature “never-before-seen footage” and that it will cover the life of Jesus “from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.”

The release date is also precisely one month before the release date of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. And while the studio has yet to release any footage from that film, it seems that there has already been at least one test screening of it.

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