It’s been a while since we’ve seen new depictions of biblical stories, especially on television. While most of the stories depicted in the new History Channel series “The Bible” have been done many times before, it’s clear people are still interested in trying to gain new insights from each one. The huge ratings of the series must have salivated people such as Darren Aronofsky and even Steven Spielberg who have big-screen biblical tales on their agendas about Noah and Moses, respectively.
Yes, the movies could eventually turn back into the 1950s when widescreen theatrical biblical extravaganzas were the huge draws away from TV. But such a renaissance might be slightly problematic when TV has become so much like the movies of late thanks to diffuse access to 70-inch screens and TV’s high production values. Chances are good that the majority of people who watched “The Bible” on History Channel saw it on their TV’s in theatrical style.
The only difference is that the above series has nary a big star attached to the cast. But it may prove that people don’t really care about big names when all those Hollywood golden era biblical epics with A-list casts don’t necessarily go over well today. It could prove a detriment to the idea of watching Russell Crowe as Noah or another big name playing Moses in Spielberg’s proposed movie.
Is it true then that people are becoming more invested in the details of biblical events rather than who plays the characters? Any real difference may come down to one thing: CGI vs. realism. You couldn’t watch History’s “The Bible” without noticing the show being drenched in digital tricks, despite still filming in real locations (and with real-looking beards).
Using real locations is at least a step up from the studio days of “The Ten Commandments” when it was clear much of Egypt and Israel were depicted on a sound stage. In Aronofky’s upcoming “Noah”, however, a real ark was constructed that will be presumably used on real waters. It may end up being, in totality, the most vivid cinematic depiction of a biblical event in history.
Those lengths are still cost prohibitive to television. Regardless, once “The Bible” presumably depicts the story of Noah, will there still be a hunger for the big-screen version? With Aronofsky promising new takes on the story, the answer would seem to be in the affirmative.
All other big-screen biblical epics that are soon to follow have to provide similar new angles in order to do well in the more sound bite world we live in. Viewers may have found more insights into biblical history through the shorter segment of “The Bible” than a two or three-hour theatrical movie ever can. As well, it must worry Steven Spielberg in eventually depicting the parting of the Red Sea in his Moses movie when the one in “The Bible” looked fairly impressive in 1080p.
Since recognizing A-list stars playing biblical stars might also prove problematic, we’ll have to assume Russell Crowe won’t look anything like himself as Noah. While it may be problematic to the box office disguising a big name, it may be that audiences want the perfect illusion of watching believable biblical figures in very real situations. It may mean A-list stars having to turn down their recognizable wattage to keep biblical history reverent.