Here we have perhaps the most ambitious of all the biblical epics. John Huston’s film isn’t content with dealing with just one story from the Bible. Oh no. This is the first 22 chapters of Genesis. Needless to say, the scope is BIG.
Do you know your Book of Genesis? Then you know the plot. God creates the world, Adam and Eve screw up, Noah collects the animals, the tower of Babel is overthrown, and so on right up to Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. Huston gathered a big cas… for this. He himself plays Noah, George C. Scott is Abraham, and Ava Gardner is Sarah. Peter O’Toole gets to be the Angel of God. The film is spectacular, with some truly marvellous matte paintings. It is also about as solemn as it is possible to get.
There is some hiss on the soundtrack, but this is, after all, a 1966 film. Perhaps a more thorough restoration and remastering could have been possible, but the stereo sound is still appropriately big. The narration, in particular, comes through well, with the voice booming at you from all sides. Turn it up loud enough and you’ll think the Second Coming is at hand. Given how omnipresent the narration is, a good mix of that voice is crucial to preserving the film’s impact, and we’ve got that here.
The presentation preserves the (very) widescreen 2.55:1 ratio, so important in conveying the epic sweep of the story. The picture quality could, however, stand to be improved during the first 25 minutes in particular. There are some slight speckles and granulation here, but the main problem is a kind of milky flicker that washes over the entire screen, sometimes notably reducing the clarity of the image. There was one night scene in Eden where it took me a moment or two to figure out what I was looking at. After these 25 minutes, however, the picture improves noticeably, and the flicker vanishes.
The menu is silent and still. Navigation is easy, but there isn’t much to navigate to. The only bonus is trailers for this and other biblical epics.
It is too bad about the variable picture quality. Whether the fault was in the print or the transfer, it does affect enjoyment in the early stages of the film. On the other hand, it’s about time grand old epics like this got a widescreen DVD release.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer