Reviewed by: Eric Paddon
|Featuring:||George C. Scott, Ava Gardner, John Huston, Peter O'Toole, Stephen Boyd, Richard Harris|
|Producer:||Dino de Laurentis|
|Distributor:||20th Century Fox (1966)|
“The Bible” was the last of the great big budget Biblical epics that began first with Cecil B. DeMille’s “Samson And Delilah” in 1949 and encompassed such memorable films as “The Robe” (1953) and “Ben Hur” (1959) along with such forgettable works like “Salome” (1953) and “Solomon And Sheba” (1959). In this instance, the genre went out on a high note in this wonderful dramatization of the first 22 chapters of Genesis from the Creation through Abraham’s test of faith when God asks him to sacrifice Issac.
Unlike the modern television takes on the Old Testament, The Bible makes no alterations from the Genesis narrative and instead presents the accounts of the Creation, The Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah, The Tower Of Babel and Abraham in a totally straightforward manner. The only minor quibble is that when God first asks Abraham (George C. Scott) to sacrifice Issac, his first reaction is one of angry refusal, pounding his fist and shouting “NO!” whereas Genesis records him as accepting God’s command from the outset.
Christopher Fry, the playwright whose uncredited rewrite of “Ben Hur”’s screenplay helped elevate it into a work of literate beauty, does an equally good job with the script here, allowing his dialogue to blend seamlessly with the words recorded in Scripture. John Huston, who doubles as the voice of God and Noah, directs the effort by taking the material seriously and never allowing the proceedings to degenerate into tacky irreverence or hidden humanistic shots at Biblical literacy.
The scenes of Adam and Eve in the Creation are filmed discretely so that there is no visible frontal nudity, and there is no violence that one could object to. The Bible may not be the most perfect telling of the Genesis account a Christian could ask for, but in light of how today’s Hollywood could corrupt the material so badly in the dreadful “Noah’s Ark” TV-miniseries, one should realize that as a product of mainstream Hollywood, this is probably the best possible telling one could have asked for. Highly recommended.