Interview: The Red Tent director Roger Young on bringing humanity to Bible stories, the four kinds of love in his new miniseries, and getting Ben Kingsley to play a teenager

rogeryoungIt’s quite possible that Roger Young has directed more feature-length Bible-themed films than any other mainstream filmmaker. Cecil B. DeMille made four or five for the big screen — including two about Moses, one about Jesus, one about Samson and one that takes place shortly after the Book of Acts — but Young, who has worked almost exclusively in television, now has seven such films under his belt.

Between 1995 and 2000, Young directed five installments in the Lux Vide “Bible Collection” series, starting with Joseph — which won the Emmy for best miniseries — and continuing with Moses, Solomon, Jesus and St Paul. More recently, he has revisited some of those stories by directing adaptations of Bible-themed novels.

Last year Reelz aired his adaptation of Par Lagerkvist’s Barabbas, which takes place partly during the ministry of Jesus. And now, on Sunday and Monday night, Lifetime will air his adaptation of The Red Tent, the Anita Diamant novel that tells the stories of Jacob and Joseph through the eyes of their daughter and sister Dinah.

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The Red Tent will look at Genesis from a female perspective

The new thing in Bible movies and similar productions? Telling familiar stories from a female point of view.

First CBS announced that it was going to produce an adaptation of The Dovekeepers, a book that looks at the Roman siege of Masada from the perspective of four Jewish women trapped inside that fortress.

Now comes word that the Lifetime network is going to produce The Red Tent, a two-part mini-series based on a novel by Anita Diamant that looks at the stories of Jacob and his son Joseph from the perspective of Jacob’s daughter and Joseph’s half-sister Dinah.

What’s more, it appears the mini-series will pay special attention to the relationship between Dinah and the four women who raised her: her mother Leah, her aunt Rachel, and her father’s concubines Bilhah and Zilpah.

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Review: The Apocalypse (dir. Raffaele Mertes, 2002)

There have been many films about the end times, but few have had all that much to do with the actual Book of Revelation. Most apocalyptic movies have been more interested in giving the ancient prophecies a modern spin than in bringing the Scriptures themselves to life — and they have usually accomplished this by spinning a web of hokey political conspiracies and horror-movie shock effects out of thin air. Thus, these films have tended to reflect the social and cultural preoccupations of their makers much more than anything particularly biblical.

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Review: The Bible Collection (dir. various, 1993-1995)

Abraham, Warner Alliance, 1993, dir. Joseph Sargent.
Jacob, Warner Alliance, 1994, dir. Peter Hall.
Joseph, Warner Alliance, 1995, dir. Roger Young.

BIBLE MOVIES refer so often to “the God of our fathers” it’s surprising at first to discover just how little attention films have paid to the patriarchs.

There are several reasons for this. Most biblical life stories are made up of disconnected episodes that do not easily conform to the structure of a two- or three-hour film. Attempts to be “historically accurate” with Genesis falter since no one knows when these stories occurred; scholars have dated Abraham to anywhere between the 23rd and 14th centuries BC.

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