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Reel Bible: The Bible Collection  

The Bible Collection


Click Here to Buy The Bible Collection Today!

First broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT), the Bible Collection is a great collection of movies that retell the stories of ten Hebrew Bible and three New Testament characters. Abraham, with its outstanding performance by Richard Harris in the lead role, started this series out on the right foot. It was followed by Joseph, David, Moses, Samson and Delilah and Jacob. After TNT left the project, four more Hebrew Bible movies were made: Genesis, Solomon, Jeremiah, and Esther. Each of these Bible movies is beautifully scored by Ennio Morricone and features solid to excellent direction, cinematography, and acting. Some are obviously better than others but each attempts a faithful recreation of the events using the Bible as its primary source. My personal favourites are Abraham, Joseph, and Solomon. In recent years, the series has continued into the New Testament with three movies: Jesus: The Epic Mini-Series, St. Paul, and The Apocalypse. The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible movies are available in two DVD box sets: The Bible Collection (see box image), which includes the first six movies of the Hebrew Bible, and The Bible Series Box Set, which contains the subsequent group of four Hebrew Bible movies. Scroll down and you can browse the individual titles, including the New Testament movies, which are the Bible Collection.

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Torah Bible Movies

Genesis
d. Ermanno Olmi
The only "either you like it or you hate it" movie in The Bible Collection, Genesis recites the creation and flood stories as aetiologies narrated by an old man. I appreciate this approach in that it recalls the ancient orality of these Bible stories. The narration is accompanied by thought-provoking visuals that juxtapose biblical times, the present-day Near East, and even shots of Manhattan. Art-House.

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Abraham
d. Joseph Sargent
Starring Richard Harris as Abraham and Barbara Hershey as Sarah, Abraham is one of the most faithful movies in The Bible Collection. The dialogue is often verbatim from the English text of the Bible. Even so, Harris and Hershey breathe such life into their roles that this movie is, in my opinion, the best in the entire series. It even deserves a high rank among the best Bible movies ever filmed.

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Jacob
d. Peter Hall
A disappointing follow-up to Abraham, Jacob lacks the life and vision of its counterpart. It is still a good Bible movie and tells the story but it just does not make the best of the wonderful material on Jacob in the Bible. This failure is glaring because Jacob is probably the most well-defined and complex of the biblical patriarchs. Still, as Bible movies go, Jacob is a solid production.

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Joseph
d. Roger Young
In Joseph, The Bible Collection returns to form. With great performances by Ben Kingsley as Potiphar, Paul Mercurio as Joseph, and Martin Landau as Jacob, Joseph tells the compelling story about Israel's son sold into slavery only to become a ruler of Egypt. Excellent sets and scenery are complimented by probably the best cinematography in The Bible Collection.

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Moses
d. Roger Young
An uneven retelling of the Moses story, the sheer force and epic of which pales in comparison to more grand Hollywood adaptations of this story. Even so, there are some interesting interpretive decisions on the part of the filmmakers that show real sensitivity to the biblical text. For instance, Moses is presented as a man of poor speech, who is ridiculed by the Pharoah and his court in his years living within that household, in sharp contrast to the eloquent and imposing Moses of the Ten Commandments. Overall, a good production.

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More Hebrew Bible Movies

Samson & Delilah
d. Nicolas Roeg
The most violent and sexiest movie in The Bible Collection, Samson & Delilah stars soap-star Eric Thal as Samson, the gorgeous Elizabeth Hurley perfectly cast as Delilah, and miscast but always interesting Dennis Hopper as General Tariq. Popular with younger audiences (i.e. my Youth group), Samson & Delilah moves at a quick pace despite its surprising length. Production values are good.

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David
d. Robert Markowitz
An interesting and thoughtful presentation of the story of David. Despite its good production values and generally strong cast, Saul is glaringly and horribly miscast. Rather than being the strong, tall, and handsome person described in the Bible, he is almost a runt in this movie and generally not charismatic enough for the role. There is an interesting use of the Psalms throughout the movie. Definitely recommended.

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Solomon
d. Roger Young
Aside from Genesis, Solomon is probably the most loosely adapted of the Bible movies in this series. The filmmakers drew on extra-biblical, largely legendary material of Josephus, Eusebius, and scholarly conjecture to develop a love story between Solomon and Sheba and took artistic license with some other additions to the biblical story. Even so, the movie is wonderfully done, particularly in the way snippets of Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes are interwoven in the different stages of Solomon's life. The cast is absolutely stellar: Ben Cross as Solomon, Anouk Aimee as Bathsheba, Vivica Fox as Sheba, and Max von Sydow as David. Excellent production!

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Jeremiah
d. Henry Winer
Alongside Jacob, Jeremiah is one of the weakest movies in The Bible Collection. There are some questionable interpretive judgments (i.e. a little girl, who reminded me of the girl in The Last Temptation of Christ, as the voice of God to the prophet in some scenes). In addition, the production values suffer with poor sets and scenes given the material at issue. Also, the Babylonians are played by Germans with obvious accents; at one point in the attack on Jerusalem I thought I heard a soldier crying, "Achtung." Still my criticism aside, this isn't horrible; it's just that it's average in comparison to the rest.

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Esther
d. Raffaele Mertes
With very strong performances by Louise Lombard as Esther and the incomparable F. Murray Abraham as Mordecai, Esther is an excellent way to close off The Bible Collection (though one can always hope for more, eg. Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Elijah & Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel). Look for Ezra and Nehemiah, who make clever cameos in this movie.

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New Testament Bible Movies

Jesus: The Epic Mini-Series
d. Roger Young
There are flaws in this Jesus movie, such as the typical portrayal of Jesus with flowing white robes and long sandy hair--haven't we reached the stage where Jesus can be a semite rather than a blonde-hair, blue-eyed caucasion? Also, the portrayal of Satan in a designer black suit with a horn-like hairdo was controversial as was the decision to divest Jesus of his divinity during the temptations. Despite its license, Jesus: The Epic Mini-Series stands strong among other Jesus movies. The performances are solid with Gary Oldman as Pilate standing out. The surprise is the human face Sisto gives Jesus; he is able to portray him as someone who enjoyed life to its fullest. It is a delightful yet reverent portrayal of Jesus.

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Paul the Apostle
d. Roger Young
Now available. Roger Young, one of the staple directors of The Bible Collection, again directs. I can't imagine that this movie would possibly match the BBC produced Peter and Paul, starring Anthony Hopkins, but given that is directed by Young, I imagine it is a good movie in its own right.

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The Apocalypse
d. Raffaele Mertes
Starring the incomparable Richard Harris as John, this final movie in The Bible Collection surrounds John's visions and his writing of the Book of Revelations with a fictional, somewhat cliche, narrative of 1st century intrigue.

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