If you’re a Bible-movie buff and a space-movie buff like me, then you can’t help but notice how the two genres sometimes overlap.
My friend Matt Page is starting a series of posts over at the Bible Films Blog on the question of canonicity and Bible films. Among other things, he asks: Is there a “canon” of Bible films, independent of the biblical canon itself? And is there a reason why certain biblical stories get filmed again and again while others go ignored?
If you went to The Song knowing nothing but the title and the fact that it’s loosely based on the life of King Solomon, then you might think that this film, about a country-music star and his struggles with fidelity, is based on the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon. And there is, indeed, a bit of that in there. But of all the texts ascribed to Solomon, the one that dominates this film, by far, is Ecclesiastes, easily the most existentialist book in the entire Bible. And that makes this film a little different from your typical “faith-based” movie.
The Identical, a music-driven, Nashville-lensed, “faith-based” film inspired by the life of Elvis Presley, didn’t do too well at the box office when it opened a couple weeks ago. But that isn’t stopping the makers of The Song, a music-driven, Nashville-lensed, “faith-based” film inspired by the life of King Solomon, from releasing their own film next week.
The film opens September 26, and the full soundtrack — featuring songs by Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris and others — comes out four days later. Among other things, the album will include a new version of ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’, a Pete Seeger song that was based on a Bible passage that has traditionally been ascribed to Solomon. This new version will be performed by Roger McGuinn — who, as lead singer of The Byrds, famously covered this song in 1965 — along with Harris and Skaggs.
Donna Dickens has an amusing post up at Hitfix in which she begs Hollywood to “please stop character assassinating Ramses II”.
The Bible, you see, never says precisely who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, but most big-screen versions of the story — from The Ten Commandments to The Prince of Egypt to Ridley Scott’s upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings — have assumed it was Ramses II, one of the most powerful Pharaohs who ever lived.
There are reasons for this, which I’ll get to in a moment, but Dickens proposes an alternative theory. Instead of dating the Exodus to the time of Ramses, who lived in the 13th century BC, she proposes dating it to the time of Thutmose III, an accomplished Pharaoh in his own right who ruled in the 15th century BC.
Why so much earlier? Partly because I Kings 6:1 tells us that Solomon began building the Temple 480 years after the Israelites came out of Egypt, and that he did this during the fourth year of his own reign. So Solomon began his reign 476 years after the Exodus, and if you date the beginning of Solomon’s reign to about 970 BC, as Dickens apparently does, then all you have to do is add 476 years and — voila! — the Exodus took place in 1446 BC, right in the middle of Thutmose’s reign.
I used to subscribe to this theory, or at least a version of it, myself.
So goes the tagline for The Song, an upcoming film that takes the story of the biblical Solomon and reimagines it as a story about a singer-songwriter dealing with fame and temptation in present-day America.
The biblical Solomon isn’t exactly known for his singing and songwriting — not like his father David, at any rate — but the Bible does say that “his songs numbered a thousand and five”. Two of the Psalms are attributed to him, and so, of course, is the Song of Songs. So it seems that this film is taking that as a jumping-off point.
The film will also make use of Ecclesiastes, a book of subversive wisdom that is also commonly attributed to Solomon.