In the Beginning
An all-star cast and spectacular special effects bring some of the Bible’s best-loved stories to life in this NBC mini-series which aired on Sunday, 11/12/00 at 9:00 PM ET/PT. A four-hour epic starring Oscar winner Martin Landau (“Ed Wood”) as Abraham; Emmy nominee Jacqueline Bisset (“Joan of Arc,” “Jesus”) as Abraham’s wife, Sarah; Golden Globe nominee Billy Campbell (“Once and Again”) as Moses; and Eddie Cibrian (NBC’s “Third Watch”) as Joseph.
Night one begins 2000 years before the birth of Christ, as the charismatic figure of Abraham leads his followers to a new land and encourages them to stop worshiping false idols and instead believe in the one true God. Popular Bible tales dramatized include the story of Adam and Eve; the ultimate test of faith that God gives Abraham; the heated rivalry between Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob; and the story of Joseph, his coat of many colors and his jealous brothers, who sell him into slavery as Part I concludes.
The sweeping biblical epic concludes as Joseph rises from a common Egyptian slave to an adviser to the Pharaoh, and Moses struggles to free his people from Egyptian rule, miraculously parting the Red Sea and leading them to Mt. Sinai, where he receives God’s law, the Ten Commandments.
Director Kevin Connor, who last year directed “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” energizes the script with well-paced sequences and top-drawer performances. Besides giving the viewer two nights of grade-A entertainment, it may cause a renewed interest in Bible reading. Indeed, while we are giving it a 12+ approval due to some violence and mature thematic elements, if your children are able to handle battle scenes and visuals of God’s almighty power, I would think that this would be important viewing for impressionable minds.
While the opening credits denote that this film presentation reflects the spirit and historical significance of the stories of the Bible, and that some dramatic license has been taken, I found this to be one of the best film versions of the Old Testament that I have seen.