Synopsis. Jacob and his son Joseph are sitting outside the tent where Rachel has died giving birth to Benjamin, and they are mourning the death of their wife and mother when Jacob’s sister Faegheh arrives. After burying Rachel, the clan proceeds to the town where Abraham and Isaac are buried, and Jacob pays a visit to his ancestors’ graves. Joseph’s brothers — and Jacob’s surviving wife and concubines — begin to murmur jealously that Jacob favours Joseph above all the other children, so Faegheh, who is childless, offers to raise Joseph herself. But then one day Joseph goes missing while he and the other children are playing a game of hide-and-seek.
Last year I wrote an essay on films about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph — the patriarchs of Genesis — for an upcoming book called The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (current release date: July 15). As research for that essay, I watched a lot of movies based on Genesis, but I only had so much time at my disposal, and I couldn’t watch everything that came my way.
This was especially true of Yousuf e Payambar, a.k.a. Prophet Joseph, a 45-episode series about the life of Joseph produced for Iranian television about eight or nine years ago. I was intrigued by the series, especially when I found multiple versions of it floating around YouTube and other websites, but I couldn’t justify watching roughly 35 hours of footage just to beef up one or two paragraphs in my essay.
I have a little more time now, though, and since I have done weekly episode recaps of series like A.D. The Bible Continues and Of Kings and Prophets, I thought it might be interesting to take a similar look at Prophet Joseph — but since there are so many episodes, I plan to look at two each week, instead of just one. I don’t mind doing this over the course of five or six months, but almost a year? That’s a little much.
They say middle children are often ignored, compared to the ones who came before and after them. The same could be said of middle patriarchs, too.
The title speaks of beginnings, but the film itself marked the end of an era. The post-war Bible-movie craze began with Samson and Delilah in 1949, and it arguably reached its peak with the 1959 remake of Ben-Hur. But the genre petered out over the next several years, and The Bible: In the Beginning…, released in 1966, was pretty much the last major Bible film to be produced by a Hollywood studio for the next couple of decades.
The problem was not that the film was a flop, per se, but that it cost so much to make. According to Wikipedia, The Bible was the top-grossing movie of its year, with a domestic take of $34 million. But roughly half of that money would have stayed with the theatres, and the film is said to have cost as much as $18 million — and that probably doesn’t count the cost of prints and advertising. So whether the film made its money back would seem to depend on how well it performed overseas.
In any case, I recently revisited this film and noticed a few things that I thought were worth noting here. (See also my recent post on Abraham and the Three Visitors, which discusses one scene from this film that I don’t get into here.)
The Jewish Journal reports that writer-director Jonathan Kesselman is looking at making a sequel to The Hebrew Hammer, the 2003 “Jewsploitation” flick that starred Adam Goldberg as an Orthodox private detective who saves Hanukkah from the evil son of Santa Claus.
In the new film, that detective, whose name is Mordechai Jefferson Carver, would have to deal with a time-traveling Adolf Hitler — and since the movie’s characters will be jumping around from era to era, the film will feature characters from the Bible, too.