A new epic film of the Bible in the works
I’ve just spent four days in the desert of Morocco at a world class film centre in a hard-to-pronounce Ouarzazate where Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator, among dozens upon dozens of other films have been produced. (Google it and check out what has been nicknamed “The door to the desert.”)
This ten hour story of the Bible–from Genesis to Revelation–is being produced by two remarkable Christians with top-drawer film experience and reputation: Mark Burnett (he conceived of, produced and owns the many productions of Survivor, The Apprentice and The Voice) and his wife Roma Downey, actress and star of Touched by an Angel.
It is being filmed over 5 months with close to 2000 extras, a few hundred speaking actors, including Shakespearean actors doing the main parts. This will be aired over 5 Sunday evenings in the spring of 2013. Most of the film crew are BBC experienced and from England.
Film making is like watching paint dry. But to be at the centre of the making of this epic was an enormous privilege. Hanging out with these actors, film crew, writers, directors and producers, I could feel their intense love and passion to not only get the Bible stories right (according to the text) but to act them out with the greatest of skill. Their ability to move from one end of the grand narrative to the end is a remarkable feat in itself. How they allowed the story of creation to move quickly into the narratives of the Old Testament will amaze you.
I got involved when asked to provide some editing of the script, giving it a biblical and theological review.
This area–the back side of the desert–is a perfect set. As well, over the years with the making of many movies, many of those sets remain intact. These sets built for other movies, along with the new sets built by The Bible film crew, provide for realistic and easy-to-believe settings and backdrops.
Here for me is the thrill: for decades to come, tens of millions of eyes will see this story, told with visual and acting power, what God has done through Jesus in his reconciliation. Never before in our history has this been done. Other productions have been made, including a number of Bible episodes done by the Vatican some decades ago (also in this town). But no one has produced the entire sweep of the Bible story for all to see. Imagine what a witness this will be for those who have never heard; for those who have, but are cynical or live in unbelief; for those from other faiths who have got the story wrong; for our children who by way of the visual media will hear and see what God has been about in the history of those he made — in his image?
Attached is a picture of Mark Burnett, Roman Downey, Geoff Tunnicliffe (Sec Gen of the World Evangelical Alliance) and myself.
Brian Stiller, March 2012, Morocco