Thursday, April 16, 2009
Ready for Our Close Up
I'm thinking that the Bible movies come in three basic categories:
1. Some sort of attempt at the actual Bible story. "King of Kings", "The Greatest Story Ever Told" "The Passion of the Christ", "The Ten Commandments", etc.
2. Movies based on some sort of entirely fictional back story of some character from the Bible. "Barabbas", "The Robe", etc.
3. Movies that take place in a Biblical time in which Jesus supposedly lived, with Jesus in them, but not Jesus, just the hand of Jesus or the foot of Jesus or the voice of Jesus. His hand, foot or voice is always accompanied by heavenly music, otherwise we'd never know whose hand or foot or voice it was. I can still hear the music from "Ben Hur" whenever Jesus floats by, giving Charlton Heston some water or trudging up to Calvary.
I like all Bible movies for the hats. The main characters never seem to have any kind of elaborate hat on, but everybody else, especially the Bible villains and the henchmen extras have on one crazy hat after another. Except for Yul Brynner as the Pharaoh. You'd think he'd want to wear a hat. I'm sure he has some sort of Pharaoh hat on at least once in the film.
Secondly, the casting. I have a few big favorites:
1. Edward G. Robinson as that wrench-in-the-works guy who whips everyone into building a golden idol frenzy while Charlton Heston's Moses is up on the mountain turning gray getting his hands on the Ten Commandments.
2. John Wayne as the Centurion who announces with that John Wayne cadence of his (since John Wayne only ever plays John Wayne), "Truly this was the SonofGOD."
3. My all time favorite, in "The Greatest Story Ever Told", when the apostles hear that the stone has been rolled away from the tomb of Jesus and go running over there to see what happened, there on the slab, as an angel, is none other than Pat Boone.
But as I said, I truly admire the writers who come up with the further story of Barabbas and what happened to John Wayne after he turns into Richard Burton and wins "The Robe". (At least he becomes a more distinguished actor.) I have always had a feeling of wishing I had thought of that.
I was mulling this over the other day when I realized that the Church has been no slouch in this department having included into our Sacred tradition the back story of the Virgin Mary, the circumstances of her birth, childhood and marriage to St. Joseph and also the back story of some of what was going on with Joseph in the first place.
We also have the after story of Mary in her old age and death, her Assumption into heaven, her little house and her flying house.
Which made me also realize that we have quite a few greatly embellished stories of our saints. St. Christopher springs to mind.
So, as with everything else, the Catholic Church has paved the way once again, even for the Golden Days of Hollywood.
And we already have the hats.