Quick updates on A.D. and The Dovekeepers

Son of God producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett gave lots of interviews in the days leading up to that film’s theatrical release, and in a few of those interviews, they dropped a few hints about their follow-up projects A.D. and The Dovekeepers, both of which will also take place in first-century Palestine. Here’s a quick summary of what they’ve said.

First, in chronological terms, A.D. will start at the crucifixion of Jesus and cover the next 40 years of Jewish and Christian history, until the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, while The Dovekeepers will start with the destruction of the Temple and continue through to the Roman siege of Masada, which ended in AD 73. It’s not clear whether the two shows will air in chronological order — they’re being produced for different networks — but those are the historical periods they will cover.

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The Bible / What works and what doesn’t in the ambitious mini-series

It’s common these days for each new episode of a TV series to begin with a montage that sums up all the relevant plot points from previous episodes. So it was only natural that, when the History Channel aired its five-part mini-series The Bible over the month of March, all but one of the episodes began with narrator Keith David intoning, in his deep baritone voice, “Previously, on The Bible…”

All of the show’s strengths and weaknesses are captured in that one phrase. Produced by Mark Burnett (a TV mogul best known for unscripted “reality” shows like Survivor and The Apprentice) and his wife Roma Downey (who once starred in Touched by an Angel), the mini-series rushes through the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, in ten hours — though it’s more like seven, once you bracket off the commercial breaks — and it zips through the stories so quickly that you barely notice when they are compressed even further in those opening sequences. But the mini-series also makes a point of emphasizing the continuity between Bible stories in a way that is quite rare among Bible films, and in a way that sometimes allows individual stories to shed light profitably on others.

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The Bible: final episode, first impressions

And so it ends. Here are my first impressions of the final episode of The Bible, which aired last night.

Continuity between Bible stories, redux. Once again, I am impressed by the fact that this adaptation-of-the-whole-Bible approach — whatever its limitations — has allowed the filmmakers to emphasize the continuity between Bible stories in a way that you rarely see in other films.

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The Bible: fourth episode, first impressions

Alas, there was no Transfiguration in this episode. But there was quite a bit of other stuff that I found interesting, for better and for worse, so here again, as before, are my first impressions.

The pacing, redux. It says something about this show that, when it finally devotes an entire two-hour episode to a single protagonist, it still feels kind of rushed, like it’s over far too quickly and we haven’t had a chance to really get to know anyone.

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Comment: Rethinking The Passion in light of Gibson’s folly

YOU MAY have heard about a little incident involving Mel Gibson, a speeding car, an open bottle of booze, and some racist and sexist remarks in late July.

For some people, the incident proved what many had been saying for at least three years, namely that Gibson is an anti-Semite, and that the controversial movie he made about the death of Jesus, The Passion of the Christ, is anti-Semitic.

But is it as simple as that? There are several issues tangled up in this story, and each one needs to be addressed separately.

First, it is dangerous to define a person by the sins with which they struggle.

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Review: The King of Kings (dir. Cecil B. DeMille, 1927)

The success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ has brought renewed attention to the old biblical epics, and if there is any one film that shares Gibson’s visual sensibility and his pious but sometimes lurid flair for melodrama, it would have to be Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings, new on DVD today as the latest classic release from Criterion Collection. Both films feature a hedonistic banquet populated by laughing revelers and a leopard on a leash. Both films feature a crow perched on a thief’s cross. And both films feature fantastic earthquake sequences after Jesus dies — though no one can match DeMille, who seems to think he’s making another Moses movie, for sheer over-the-topness.

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