Hollywood plans another Bible epic – making me cringe October 2, 2011Posted by #4 in Everything but the kitchen sink.
Tags: Bible, Egypt, Hollywood, Israelites, Moses, movies, Steven Spielberg, Ten Commandments, Warner Bros
Before I continue, I must confess something. I love movies. I watch tons of movies and I have a ridiculous collection of movies. I have probably lost more movies than most people have in their homes. It really is a ridiculous vice.
That being said, I have a particular peeve towards movies that are based on the Bible. If you haven’t noticed yet, this blog is mostly about how I view the world from the perspective of being a Bible believing and church serving Christian. Everything I read and watch is scrutinized by the litmus test of scripture. My baloney detector is big and powerful. And it never fails. On the other hand I have been known to fail, which is why I say movies are a vice for me. Obviously they are not Biblical since movies weren’t going to be around for a couple thousand years when the Bible was written but I believe that the people who make them and the stories that are portrayed can most certainly be held to the test of scripture: is it God honoring or man honoring? Is it truthful or is it a lie?
There have been some movies about the Bible that were grand in scale and awesome in their presentation; most notably The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur ( my personal all-time favorite) and The Passion of the Christ, and even the 1966 movie simply titled The Bible. That last movie was memorable to me for the Noah’s Ark portion of the movie – it just looked and felt right. But those are exceptions to the Hollywood rule. Those movies took pains to be accurate or at least portray the Bible with the awe and respect it deserves. Hollywood doesn’t try to do that anymore.
Some of the more despicable examples are: King David from 1985 starring Richard Gere, The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988 by Martin Scorsese and a string of low budget clunkers. I mean – come on – Richard Gere as David? At least after that terrible decision make the fight scene between David and Goliath accurate – use only one stone (1 Samuel 17: 49). So needless to say, Hollywood does not inspire any confidence in their ability to portray the Bible with any accuracy or with even an attempt to glorify Holy God – at least not the Hollywood of today. Then I read this news story on a website:
Warner Bros. is planning an epic adaptation of the life of Moses, Deadline reports. What’s more, the site claims that Steven Spielberg is being courted to become the project’s director.An important figure in a number of faiths, Moses is considered in religious texts to be a prophet and a spiritual leader. He is credited with writing the Torah and The Book of Exodus details Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt by parting the Red Sea. After their journey begins, Moses receives the Ten Commandments and delivers them to his people, spending the next four decades wandering the desert in search of the Promised Land.Though Moses’ tale has been adapted for the screen before (most famously in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille epic, The Ten Commandments), Gods and Kings is said to be a wholly new take from screenwriters Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. The former contributed to Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern while the latter worked on the script for the upcoming Paradise Lost.Dan Lin and Matti Leshem are set to produce and Spielberg’s interest in the project at the moment is said to be tentative at best, though discussions are likely to begin in earnest in the very near future.
Now why do you think that little news-bite makes me cringe? Simply by the way they present the character of Moses: “An important figure in a number of faiths, Moses is considered in religious texts to be a prophet and a spiritual leader.”
I know of only three faiths at the moment that recognize Moses as part of their faith and history. They would be Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Judaism is the faith that emerged from the obedience of Moses; Christianity naturally recognizes him but takes Judaism to the next level in actually accepting the Messiah, Jesus the Son of God, which Judaism still does not do. Everything about Islam is a lie forced on the world by the sword of a false prophet so their use of Moses is irrelevant. That knowledge alone tells me that Hollywood may try to play the appeasement card and be acceptable to all three faiths. Big mistake. I’ll tell you why.
Trying to cover your bases and appeal to different religions that recognize a particular historical figure does 2 things (at least that’s all I can think of). One – you can’t appeal to all three faiths at the same time because they all disagree on the greatest point of all: Who is God? and Second – by doing this you will gloss over the critical elements of the character and the history thereby making it just another story about another person in history. Moses is not just another person in history and trying to appeal to all faiths makes the same ridiculous argument that all those coexist numbskulls make. Not to mention that there is a really good possibility that God Himself will not receive any accurate coverage.
Moses played a huge role in the Bible, most notably that he wrote the first five books. You remember Genesis? In the beginning…? That was Moses moved to write by God’s Spirit. Yes he lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and yes there was a parting of the Red Sea – but Moses didn’t do it – God did it all. The huge role that Moses had was obedience. He did just what God told him to do with one notable exception that cost him seeing the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 32: 51). But there still are aspects of Moses’ story that I doubt Hollywood will be able to portray. Here are some verses that illustrate this point:
“But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.” Deuteronomy 34: 10-11“(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)” Numbers 12: 3
Then He said,
“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.
7 Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house.
8 I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?” Numbers 12: 6-8
In our world, being humble is not an admired trait. Society idolizes those who are on top, the most beautiful, the most business savvy, the most successful and wealthy, the most powerful. We even have superheroes that depict what we want for ourselves. So a movie about the most humble guy on the planet isn’t going to sell too many box office tickets. There will have to be a change to make it exciting and engaging and over-the-top… which is really ironic because the life that can truly be lived over-the-top is the one in complete submission to God.
So I have no confidence that Mr. Spielberg, if he really does make the movie, will go to the only source with true information about Moses: Holy Scripture. And the temptation to put the ole Hollywood spin on the story will be too great to overcome.
The other aspect of this whole idea of another Bible epic movie is that for all the significance of Moses, it has no comparison to the one life that did in fact change our whole world and impact the whole human race.
That life is none other than Jesus. He is the center point of human history. The most significant and important life ever lived – because without Him, we have no hope.