Prophet Joseph — episodes one and two

prophetjoseph-01-02

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.

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Bible movie of the week: The Bible: In the Beginning… (1966)

The title speaks of beginnings, but the film itself marked the end of an era. The post-war Bible-movie craze — which began with Samson and Delilah (1949) and arguably peaked with Ben-Hur (1959) and its record 11 Academy Awards — petered out over the next several years, and The Bible: In the Beginning… (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. Reliable box-office figures are harder to find, the further back you go in time, but according to Wikipedia, at least, The Bible was the top-grossing film of 1966, with a domestic gross of $34 million. Then again, 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.)

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