Thursday, April 30, 2015

Biblical Epics Are Not Documentaries

By Alissa Wilkinson
Artists who work in nonfiction, by contrast, try stick to the contours of what happened while primarily serving the themes of the story. Journalism aims to inform a citizenship about the world; art aims to evoke in the audience an experience of the world. Both want to make the reader or viewer see the world in a new way, but journalism is doing that through facts, and art is doing it through emotions. Whether the artist is justified in tweaking the facts is still hotly debated, a long-running argument about ethics that can't be settled in a column. What's interesting here is the this concern and its Biblical movie analogue. [link]

There are, as far as I can tell, three camps of viewers when it comes to movies based on stories from the Bible.
  1. The first is the literalists: if anything appears on screen that isn't on the page, then they turn it off. 
  2. The second group of Bible film watchers see the Biblical story as inspiration, but are fine with whatever happens on screen, no matter how off-book it goes. 
  3. The third group lies somewhere in the middle, seeing the story as an outline that ought to be followed in general, but reserving the freedom to change in minor ways, invent, or draw on other texts to serve the cinematic medium—and, more importantly, to serve the story of the text, and to evoke an experience in the reader.