THE Book is Better, but…

I watched it. I will watch the Part 2 next Sunday night, and so forth, through to the end. History Channel’s The Bible has made a big splash on television, setting records for cable broadcast.

I liked Part 1. I’m a big fan of anything that will get people interested in reading the Bible. At my church I teach Bible class for first and second graders every week, and I take turns teaching my ladies’ Sunday school class on occasion. The Bible includes every type of story under the sun, and it has long been underappreciated by Hollywood.

After all, what other single collection includes murder, suspense, ghost stories, romance, miracles, travel, birth, death, plagues, angels, demons, giants, leviathans, behemoths, witches, political drama, mistaken identity, executions, resurrections, revenge, heaven and hell? The Bible has all of these and more!

The much talked-about mini-series has some of these elements. I loved the angels in Sodom and Gomorrah—they had mad ninja skills. I loved how the show portrayed Sarai/ Sarah. She felt very real to me—vulnerable and down-to-earth. The show didn’t mention that the woman was so incredibly beautiful that her husband passed her off as his sister to save favor with other men—twice. Bless her heart, she really was his half-sister, but in her place I might have gotten a little fussy about things like that.

The show did such a terrific job of showing the characters’ faults and emotions, that I was surprised at how the production treated Moses. While the theatrical presentation made him a confident leader of men, the Biblical account is quite different. In the Bible, Moses pleaded with God not to make him go back to Egypt. He explained that he was a poor speaker, and unable to lead. I was a little disappointed in that aspect, but I certainly understand editing for time.

There were some other little things I could get snippy about, but I’ve read about what went into making The Bible for television, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the hearts behind the effort. If you didn’t see Part 1, find a friend to share with you. When the series is over, rent or purchase it. And if you want to know the “rest of the story” read the book!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

How Movies Could Change the World?

A while back I read an article stating that the college-aged/ young adult demographic claims to get most of their news and current event information from late night talk shows and variety programs like Saturday Night Live. I laughed. I cried. I was afraid.

Do these young ‘ens understand that these shows do not employ journalists? They have a staff of comedy writers! You don’t get news stories from these shows. You instead find spoofs, satires and all sorts of silliness.

What if this same audience learned history from movies like Year One (2009), History of the World, Part 1 (1981) or One Million Years B.C. (1966)? Yikes!

What if we got all of our literary education from watching movies?

In the 1999 made-for-TV presentation of Noah’s Ark, based loosely—and I mean VERY LOOSELY—on the Biblical account in the book of Genesis, we find Noah and his wife dealing with Lot and his pirate friends. Now I’m not sure if the writers of this story ever read the Bible, but I have. I can tell you with certainty that Lot was a relative of Abraham. He had pretty much nothing to do with Noah. Hmmm….

Okay, but that’s just one movie. Let’s look at Disney movies. They have deep pockets. They’ll be true to the original books, right?

The Little Mermaid (1989) is probably the biggest offender. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a precious movie, and I adore the fish song, particularly. However, anyone who has ever read Hans Christian Andersen’s original tale knows that it does not have the happily-ever-after ending of the movie. The poor little mermaid does not marry her prince.

What am I saying? Should we not enjoy movies based on books? Should we completely disregard all films that are based on events in history? Should we never make political decisions solely based on information we get from SNL’s “Weekend Update”?

All right, that last one—I am saying precisely that.

For the others, though, please enjoy the movies. Just understand that historical events depicted in a two-hour film probably took much longer to develop. Characters may be an amalgamation of several different real people. Movie producers tend to like happy endings, especially for children’s stories, even when the books don’t have cheerful resolutions.

When you’re done with the movie, read the book. Look up what really happened in history. Watch the evening news—the one with real reporters and no musical guest stars. In other words, keep reality and entertainment separate.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!