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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Exodus: Gods and Kings has a rating, a running time, and a new video of Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton

exodus-DF-02915_2917R-aOf the 21 films that Ridley Scott directed prior to making Exodus: Gods and Kings, fully two-thirds were rated R. This includes the historical epics Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, but it does not include the historical epics 1492: Conquest of Paradise or Robin Hood.

So I’ve been wondering what rating Exodus would get from the MPAA when all was said and done. And now we know: it is rated PG-13 for “violence including battle sequences and intense images”.

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He’s Pharaoh! He’s Moses! He’s somebody else entirely! Ben Kingsley talks Exodus, appears in Night at the Museum trailer

vlcsnap-2014-07-31-22h09m42s196Two movies. Same studio. Coming out only a week apart. Both of them have something to do with ancient Egypt. And both of them star Ben Kingsley in a prominent supporting role.

One of those movies is Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third in the series about a bunch of museum exhibits that come to life at night. The series already has a Pharaoh — Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), who appears in all three films — but Kingsley joins the series as yet another Pharaoh in this newest film.

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Ben Kingsley set to co-star in his second or third Moses movie; other actors also join Ridley Scott’s Exodus

I haven’t seen it in years, but of all the movies that have been made about the life of Moses, one of my favorites is the Lux Vide production Moses (1995), starring Ben Kingsley. As I said in my review of the film at the time:

For sheer human realism, Kingsley’s is probably the best interpretation of Moses any film has offered to date. He stutters nervously in the Egyptian courts; he wrestles with his doubts when God’s plans seem to fail; he rejoices ecstatically when the Pharaoh’s chariots drown; and he sheds painful tears when the Levites kill their fellow Hebrews for worshiping the golden calf.

So I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu now that Kingsley has reportedly joined the cast of Ridley Scott’s life-of-Moses movie Exodus. Admittedly, he will not be playing the part of Moses himself this time; that role has already gone to Christian Bale. Instead, according to Deadline, Kingsley will play “a Hebrew scholar”.

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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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Lights, Camera, Plagues! / Moses in the Movies

Moses is revered by three major world religions as a hero of the faith, a prophet, and a lawgiver. He is also a thriving part of popular culture. When the National Rifle Association recently elected Charlton Heston, who is best known for his portrayal of Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, as its new president, the NRA’s vice president said that it was “a way of saying, ‘Hey, Moses is on our side.’” And when Jeffrey Katzenberg, cofounder of the DreamWorks studio, wanted to show that his animation team could compete with Disney, he produced The Prince of Egypt, the first major film about Moses in more than 40 years.

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