“How did The Bible come to be? The Bible wasn’t always a book or even a series of books. In the beginning there wasn’t even a written language. The prophets and holy men who roamed these lands seeking the truth and preaching God’s word as they perceived it were talking to illiterate audiences who could only be reached by the witnessed testimony and the spoken word.”
That’s where Charlton Heston comes in. When it comes to the stories of the Bible, Heston is the ultimate storyteller. It all started in the early 1950’s when the actor was hired to play Moses in the DeMille epic The Ten Commandments. For Heston, the locations of the Holy Land provided him with a life-long passion and interest. He began to give live talks on the Bible and underwent a great deal of research on the subject. He would tell these stories with his easy yet commanding voice. As he continued his own fascination only increased. If The Ten Commandments can be seen as the beginning of Heston’s stardom, it might be most fitting that one of his final projects would be this mini-series. Here Heston takes on 4 areas of The Bible and brings alive the written word.
The series is broken down into 4 segments. Each is about 47 minutes long. The segments are: Genesis, The Story Of Moses, The Story Of Jesus Christ and The Passion. The segments pull two from each of the Old and the New Testaments. But, these are not merely dramatic readings from the book itself. Heston travels to many of the real locations in the Holy Land to deliver his performance. He gets around in a white jeep. At these locations he does deliver passages themselves. He speaks with authority and adds character to the various voices of the people speaking in them. He doesn’t stop there, however. Heston adds his own commentary both on the passages he’s read and on the people and times around which these stories takes place. He adds context that makes the message a little more clear than perhaps your priest or minister might do at a typical Sunday service. In many ways the performance feels like a one-man play.
There’s no question that his lifelong investment in the subject is important to Heston. He delivers his lines from the heart. While there most certainly was a script, each word appears ad-libbed and thought out. I think some of you will find this a rather inspirational program.
Each episode is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. There’s a bit of a contradiction here. Each disc contains only one episode and the same half-hour feature. That means a solid bit-rate. Still the image quality is absolutely horrible. Colors are dull, and it’s impossible to appreciate the wonderful locations. This looks very much like a dub, and I suspect Heston would be incredibly disappointed that the series uses four discs but provides terrible video all the same.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is strictly dialog.
Behind The Scenes: (27:42) This same documentary appears on each disc with no variation. It’s a good look at Heston and his son as they put together the project.
I don’t believe you have to be particularly spiritual or a Bible-thumper to appreciate the show. Heston is certainly a believer, but I don’t get that evangelical fakeness that all too many preachers have. He’s not trying to convert you here. You’re not going to hear any lectures about your own life. He’s not going to tell you to go to church. He’s merely trying to help you understand a book that has influenced our world about as much as any book before it. Both the Torah and Koran contain elements of some of the same scriptures. It’s a book and a mini-series that “speaks to believers and non-believers alike”.