View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Sunday, March 21, 2004

The Return of the Biblical Epic 

Mel Gibson is considering making a movie about the Maccabean Revolt, the historical rebellion behind the holiday of Hannukah. Naturally, Abe Foxman, having not learned much from recent events, is outraged. "The last thing we need is to turn our history into a Western."

Well, why not? Look, I know Gibson's a deeply religious Catholic who sees the Hebrew Bible mostly as the predecessor text to the New Testament. But if he can steer clear of that, well, why not? It's a great story, a great action picture, and if he plays the title role, for once he won't end up with his head on a pike. Exodus was a big hit in part because it showed Jews fighting for themselves, rather than cowering in a 19th-century ghetto.

Foxman seems to forget that biblical epics were once all the rage in Hollywood. Aside from the Ten Commandments, we had Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba, and probably a dozen others big-time efforts. And these were only the good ones. Bits of the Book of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and the Book of Daniel made it as an apparently awful film called "Slaves of Babylon," featuring, among others, Julie Newmar in a pre-Catwoman role as an assassin/dancer. I'm hoping for better things from a Mel Gibson movie.

Let Gibson make his film. It's just a shame it wouldn't be ready by this summer's Olympics.

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