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* (April 2017) "CINEMA HEAVEN": EASTER, PASSOVER ... AND OUR SEVEN FAVORITE BIBLICAL EPICS
* (December 2016) "WHO'S YOUR DADDY?": A LIST OF 12 "ROGUE ONE" CINEMATIC ANCESTORS
* (October 2014) GULLCOTTAGE / GRINDHOUSE "4 Fs": FIFTY FAVORITE FRIGHT FLICKS.
* (April / May 2012) 20/20 FUTURE VISION: THE 20 BEST SCI FI FILMS OF THE PAST 20 YRS.
* (Dec. 2011 / rev. Nov. 2016) THE
12 (24 ALTERNATE) DAYS OF CHRISTMAS - PT. 1
* (Sept. / Oct. 2011 ) "REAL STEEL"'S REAL DEAL - RICHARD MATHESON: FUTURE VOGUE
* (May / June 2011) REIGN OF THE SUPERCOMPUTER
"CINEMA HEAVEN": EASTER, PASSOVER,
... AND THE AWESOMENESS OF OUR SEVEN FAVORITE OLD-SCHOOL BIBLICAL EPICS
Regardless of one's faith (or lack thereof), you won't find too many "history of filmdom" fans (be they Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists or whatever) who disagree that the genre of the Biblical Epic is one of the most enjoyably grand scale and operatic in all of cinema. Which isn't to say they're all great, mind you. Good Lord (pun entirely intended), hardly! Just as with any other genre (science fiction, western, noir, crime drama, comedy, ... take your pick) your Biblical Epics have just as many agenda-laden, cheesily executed, top-heavy-with-wayyy-too-much-subtext-and-message, ... as well as just flat out plain bad ! entries as it does memorable classics. That said and understood, personally for us, just as we drag off the shelves certain films every Christmas / New Year's Season (DIE HARD, THE REF, LOVE ACTUALLY, et al) and the 4TH OF JULY weekend (ID4, BLOWN AWAY, DROP ZONE, 1776, etc.) so do we every Easter / Passover week do our (we just made this word up) "BiblioMoviePalooza" of favorite (call 'em) "scripture-to-script" based films we've grown to dig over the years. Now ...
For those on one side - critical of the "over Holllywood-i-zation" of the sacred Bible story, and dead-set in the belief that the secular film maker's take (some say "bastardization") of revered biblical narratives is tantamount to blasphemy, and indicative of why society is "going to hell in the (proverbial) hand basket", ... as well as to those on the other side who feel believers of such "quaint, superstitious and fanciful" yarns are the root cause of society's long history of war and prejudice, we ask that you both (at least for a few minutes) just please shut the righteous f**k up and take a couple'a steps back. Right now we don't give a rat's patootie about any of that.
We're just talking about a great genre of film making here, which (hey, admit it or don't admit it) still at times has the ability to bring a lump to the throat, and maybe even a little watery-ness to the corner of the tear duct of even the most jaded film-going sonofabitch who ever slugged a beer or scratched his hairy chest.
Most filmic biblical stories (as well as those based on sacred Muslim, Buddhist, Native American and other global aboriginal text) are, as much as some would have us believe otherwise, actually less about guilt, condemnation and eternal damnation, and more about renewal, redemption, self-sacrifice, the death of an old life - leading to the beginning of a new one, and liberty from bondage - physical, psychological and (yes, we'll use the word) spiritual.
And this is the reason we see so many contemporary films with tried, true and "old as humanity itself" plot narratives and characters torn from the papyrus of those classic biblical, Buddhist, Muslim and other ancient stories. Peter O'Toole as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA sitting and staring into the desert until he comes up with the "miracle" needed to attack the port city of Aqaba. CONAN THE BARBARIAN on the "Tree of Woe". Annakin Skywalker selling his soul then falling, Lucifer-like, and having his body consumed by the Dante-esque flames of the volcanic planet Mustafar. Tim Robbins' Noah / Christ-like descension into the bowls of the earth / "belly of the beast", and his re-emergence into the baptismal rain in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, ... as if that film's title hadn't already clued you in on what was going on. And hey, there are sooo many biblical and philosophical layers running beneath the substrata of THE MATRIX trilogy that space doesn't allow a listing here, ... although some of the more obvious references are Neo's death, resurrection and climactic literal ascension, Smith emerging as an "Anti-Neo", and names of characters and locales in that series running the gamut from "Trinity" to "Zion" and everywhere across, through and in-between the narrative maps of both the Old and New Testaments. Anyway, all of this to say ...
As such we're not here to get into the whole "Why didn't this or that biblical film on your list not accurately cast more people of color in primary roles, huh?" argument, or the "Why didn't you mention more iconoclastic films like Scorcese's THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, Monty Python's comedic yet trenchant LIFE OF BRIAN, or 'outside the lines of the coloring book' musical adaptations like JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR or GODSPELL?" debate. Because, quite simply, as valid as those discussions are, a) That's not what this posting's about. Those are entirely other topics deserving their own particular articles, blogs or podcasts. And we do have one along those lines in the works, by the way, so stay tuned! But not this time around. And b), perhaps more importantly, ... well, because we didn't feel like it.
Not everything, even bible based films, needs to be taken too uber seriously. Like any other film genre they really can just be a damned good, engaging, inspirational, and (yeah!) even fun and exciting time at the movies too. We kinda just wanted to stick with that aspect in this one, and stick with more "mainstream"-esque films of which most would be familiar, ... even though, yeah, of course, every now and then one can't avoid such obvious "elephant in the room" topics as the anti-McCarthyism of BEN-HUR, or the charges of antisemitism levelled against Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. But if you do at this time want to delve more into the multi-layered aspects of "Religion in Film" in general there are a plethora of other sites, and some pretty damned good and easily accessible documentaries and social media hubs, more than willing to go down that route to your heart's content. In fact this time of year you'll find some great ones on The History Channel, Discovery and other popular networks.
Here though, we wanted to keep things a little simpler and maybe a bit more, as we said, fun. Oh, and also keep in mind that, just as with our "50 Halloween Faves" and "ROGUE ONE's Cinematic Ancestors" listings, we're not necessarily saying these are the "Best" adaptations by any means, ... just our personal faves this time of year.
Anyway, that said, submitted for your approval (in no particular order), here are those faves we’ve taken to pulling off the shelves and rewatching every Easter / Passover / Spring Break week. "Happy Easter", "Chag Kasher V'Sameach", or just "Have a Great Time, And Be Careful Out There When Driving To And From Mom's For Easter Dinner", ... whatever applies to 'ya.
Have a great Holiday, and be safe, all!