When done correctly, Bible stories can be quite entertaining and highly interesting. We mean, old time animated series like Superbook and Flying House were essentially sci-fi premises that were lead-ins to morality stories. So here’s a few picks from recent years that you can line up for your Holy Week staycation binge.
Patterns of Evidence: Exodus (2014)
What’s the basis of the Exodus when it comes to archaeological facts and scientific proof? Documentarist Tim Mahoney tries his darn best to uncover and unravel the debate regarding the credibility of the Bible using scientific investigation methods to get his answers.
While there’s a certain Indiana Jones for real vibe to the whole proceeding, the narrative voice of Kevin Sorbo (yep, the dude who played Hercules) may put you off at moments when he’s just trying too hard to sound dramatic. At the very least, interviews with archaeologists, historians, and biblical scholars that educate and lay down a true-to-life timeline of the events leading to the Exodus, and the revelation of the existing artifacts and documents from Ancient Egypt, carry you enjoyably deeper into what’s been the subject of debate amongst experts for years.
Prince of Egypt (1998)
One of the most well-handled movies about Moses and his bro Ramses is this DreamWorks movie. Funny how an animated film can make a better and more entertaining impact than a lot of damn live action ones with A-listers. Since it’s a GP project you can watch this one with the whole family and nobody will cringe at the Egyptian slaughter of the babies.
The Red Tent (2014)
If you happen to know and like the very sordid and soap-ish story of Jacob then this one is for you. With just two episodes, but running at 87 minutes each, this miniseries is based on novel of the same name by Anita Diamant and is about the women of Jacob’s tribe (which includes Jacob's wives Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah) and the titular red tent that they temporarily live in during their time of menstruation.
Since it’s a no-men allowed housing arrangement the Israelite women have, unknown to the men, kept alive their old folk traditions, including goddess worship and herbology. The story that unfolds is full of drama about how women lived and fared in the Biblical days as played by some pretty talented names in Hollywood including Morena Baccarin and GoT’s Iain Glenn.
AD Kingdom and Empire (2015)
Coming from Mark Burnett’s production house, this series has a simple premise that plays out what it was like to live in the days after Jesus died. It starts with the Christ tomb being empty and continues with the first ten chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, focusing in particular on the social and political effects of the Christian faith’s ascent to prominence in the Roman Empire.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Director Ridley Scott uses state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion to bring to life the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he makes like a community organizer and rouses the Hebrews against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 400,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape. Scott saw all that and envisioned the Exodus from Egypt as the original and definitive heroic saga and gives it its due in cinematic vision and pounding action sequences.
One of the best scenes is seeing Bale in his Batman-carved body as Moses, accosting Ramses in the Egyptian stables post-exile, where Moses delivers God’s ultimatum with a diplomatic visit, proposing the liberation of the slaves. It's an understated version of the bombast in 10 Commandments, where Charlton Heston exhorts to Yul Brynner: “Ramses, let my people go!”
In Exodus: Gods and Kings, Edgerton’s Ramses replies calmly, in all honesty, and without malice: “That would be problematic right now because of the economy [of Egypt].”
If you haven’t seen the way they handled the intense and glorious parting of the sea scene here, then you’ve really missed out!