“The Bible”: History channel brings scripture to the screen in a 10-hour, five-part docudrama miniseries premiering Sunday, March 3.
If you’ve been putting off reading the Bible and waiting for the movie, your time is up.
History presents the ambitious 10-hour, five-week miniseries The Bible, dramatizing the most famous tales from the Good Book beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation. Stories depicted include the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Flood, the Exodus, David and Goliath, and the Gospels. The series concludes on Easter with the story of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension and prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ. The series airs Sundays at 8pm ET, with the final installment on Easter, March 31.
“One of our intentions was to create a kind of cohesive weaving of an emotional narrative from the beginning to the end, so that it wouldn’t appear so much as a series of stories but would tell one great story, one grand narrative,” says Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel), who with husband Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice) created and executive produced the series.
Burnett and Downey gave highest attention to authenticity for the project. “We brought onboard a team of experts and theologians and scholars, and made adjustments each step of the way to make sure that we were telling the story accurately,” Downey says. “As moviemakers, of course, there’s poetic grace from time to time, but the story is always told with the spirit of the book.”
No longer limited by special effects that can’t meet the challenge of the material, Downey feels that the time is right to update our mind’s eye. “We were able to create miracles on the screen with CGI that have not been seen before from Bible stories,” Downey says. “Many of us still have in our minds the Red Sea parting from [Cecil B. DeMille’s] The Ten Commandments, which is now over 50 years old, and of course technology has advanced so enormously since that time.”
The results are visually breathtaking, and the score by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer and narration by Keith David help give the series a grand, epic scope.
“We [hoped to] breathe fresh visual life into these stories,” Downey says. “Many people think they know these stories, but we have told them in a way I think that will leave people feeling that they’ve seen something new — that it’s being brought to the screen in new and interesting ways, with nuance and in a way perhaps that they hadn’t considered before.”
The Bible gives a richer political and social context to the stories, and shows their interconnectivity. Biblical figures are humanized and their motivations are relatable to a modern audience. Viewers will also recognize themes of church vs. state, and priests and politicians interpreting God’s will to justify violence and war.
“It’s our story. We can identify and relate with the characters, because their situations might be 2,000 years ago, but the things that they’re feeling and experiencing, the dynamics that are going on within their families, it’s the same issues that we have today,” Downey says. “Human nature hasn’t changed that much. The mistakes that the characters are making back then, we’re still making those mistakes today.”
Photo: © Lightworkers Media/Hearst Productions Inc. Credit: Casey Crafford