Bible Stories on the Big Screen as Hollywood Movies
Almost as long as Hollywood has been around, the Holy Bible has been a source for inspirational stories and films with a “built-in” audience (referring to the Bible being the most popular book in history and the many Bible readers and Christ-followers around the world).
Two reasons have been cited for why a profit-driven entertainment industry like Hollywood would make biblical stories into motion pictures include: 1. the biblical stories are in public domain so there’s no copyright fees or licensing involved; 2. these stories are familiar to a large audience. Plus, the stories in the Bible contain relatively straightforward “narratives of good versus evil, and feature crowd-pleasing battles, sword fights, natural disasters, and miracles.” Wikipedia has two entries related to this topic: The Bible in film and List of films based on the Bible.
The Bible is not only popular; the Bible is also provocative. How the Bible is portrayed on the big screen generates all sorts of reactions, both commentaries and critiques, especially when people noticed a seemingly larger number of Bible movies during 2014:
In Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’ Proves the “Bible Movies” Trend Is Nonsense by Brook Wilensky-Lanford (New Republic, December 2014)—
Everyone knows that 2014 is supposed to be the Year of Bible Movies. Back at the end of 2013, the Telegraph’s Nick Allen wrote a story that predicted “Biblical films’ Hollywood comeback.” “Superheroes,” the headline claimed, “are being elbowed out by Noah and Mary as Hollywood makes 2014 the year of the Biblical epic.” Allen mentions Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings as part of a “series of unashamedly Christian biblical epics” coming this year.
Excerpted from Hollywood’s New Bible Stories: Lured by public-domain source material and epic adventure stories ripe for big-time special effects, studios and filmmakers are rediscovering the Good Book; Russell Crowe as Noah.” by Erica Orden (Wall Street Journal, September 2012)—
There are compelling economic reasons for Hollywood to embrace the Good Book. The studios are increasingly reliant on source material with a built-in audience, something the Bible—the best-selling book in history—certainly has.
Bible Films Mix Hollywood And Holy Book (Huffington Post, October 2013)
Hollywood Turns to the Bible in Search of Hits (ABC News, December 2013)
(video) Bible Stories Back on the Big Screen: Hollywood goes holy with religious- themed 2014 releases, including “Exodus” and “Noah.”
This Year, Biblical Films Are Fruitful And Multiplying (NPR, March 28, 2014)
As for Handel… when he was studying the source material and writing the script with Aronofsky, they understood themselves to be participating in the Jewish tradition of midrash.
“It’s a dialogue amongst people,” he says. “You see questions posed by the story, what’s unanswered, what seems to be confusing about it. It means that the story is alive.”
Biblical and Faith-Based Movies: In Hollywood To Stay? by Anita Busch (Deadline, March 30, 2014)—
The lesson to studio heads and marketers is — whether its Noah, God’s Not Dead, Son Of God, Fireproof or Courageous — there is an audience for Biblical films… Perhaps, it takes a thoughtful approach (and time) to pull it off.
Both Christians and non-Christians movie fans alike have browsed through the film archives and come up with lists of the best movies about the Bible and there’s no shortage of suggestions for other Bible stories that could or should be made into films. Here’s a sample of those articles:
5 Hollywood Movies That Got the Bible Right by Karen Ridder (Newsmax, March 2015)
5 Most Successful Movies Ever Made About the Bible (cheatsheet.com, July 2015)
Bible Story Movies: 10 Films from Scripture (hearitfirst.com, February 2013)
4 Biblical Stories We’d Like to See Made Into Movies (SparkNotes, June 2012) suggested: Jacob and Esau, Elijah, The Apocalypse of John, The Acts of the Apostles.
After Noah: 5 Bible Stories Destined for the Big Screen (Time Magazine, March 2014) suggested: Cain and Abel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob’s Wedding, The Purim story.
Five Metal Bible Stories Hollywood Should Adapt For The Big Screen: Hollywood should make more Bible-themed action movies from lesser-known Old Testament stories primed to be cinematic spectacles. (The Federalist, March 2016) — Ehud, Joshua, Elijah, Judith, The Twelve Spies.
Enough Moses already: 5 other Bible stories that deserve a Hollywood epic (Entertainment Weekly, December 2014) suggested: Samson, Esther, Joseph, Ruth, Revelation.
Andrew Dyce in 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies (Screen Rant, March 2014) suggested: Gideon, The Maccabees, Joshua, The Binding of Isaac, King David.
What would you add? What other stories in the Bible would make for great movies?
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