The short answer? No! Throughout the 1950s, there were a number of highly successful Biblical epics made by Hollywood. The most spectacular was Cecil B. DeMille’s, The Ten Commandments. After a very long hiatus, the spectacular success of The Passion of the Christ renewed Hollywood’s interest in Bible-based movies. Recently, a movie called Noah was released and another, Exodus: Gods and Kings is nearing release. Both were made by directors who claim to be atheist or agnostic. Let’s Compare.
At the beginning of the movie, The Ten Commandments, director Cecil B. DeMille did something remarkable. He walked out on a stage to preface the movie with a few heartfelt comments:
Ladies and Gentlemen; young and old; this may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the picture begins, but we have an unusual subject: the story of the birth of freedom; the story of Moses. As many of you know the Holy Bible omits some thirty years of Moses’ life, from the time that he was a three- month old baby and was found in the bull rushes by Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh and adopted into the court of Egypt until he learned that he was Hebrew and killed the Egyptian. To fill in those missing years, we turn to ancient historians such as Philo and Josephus. Philo wrote at the time that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth; Josephus wrote some fifty years later and watched the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. These historians had access to documents long since destroyed or perhaps lost like the Dead Sea Scrolls. The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today. Our intention was not to create a story, but to be worthy of the divinely inspired story created 3,000 years ago in the five books of Moses.
DeMille’s understanding of the importance of God’s laws was further clarified in the souvenir book distributed along with the movie:
The Ten Commandments are not rules to obey as a personal favor to God. They are fundamental principles without which mankind cannot live together—THE TEN COMMANDMENTS are not laws. They are THE LAW. Man has made 32,000,000 laws since they were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God’s law.
The movie was clearly DeMille’s labor of love.
In contrast, a movie entitled Noah, about the Biblical worldwide flood was recently released. The director, Darren Aronofsky, is a self-proclaimed atheist. He departed widely from the Biblical account portraying Noah as the first great environmentalist and not mentioning God at all despite over ten references to God in the original. Another movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings is nearing release. The director Ridley Scott, is a self-acknowledged agnostic. Christian Bale the leading man has on separate occasions referred to Moses as schizophrenic and a terrorist. Scott’s rendering has God speaking to Moses through an angry child, rather than the burning bush and at least a few supernatural events, such as the Nile River turning to blood, are explained in natural terms. In the case of the Nile, a non-Biblical plague of crocodiles feeds on people whose blood turns the river red.
Can an evolution-driven humanistic director possibly make a God-honoring movie when he disavows the existence of God? The Ten Commandments was made to glorify God; the modern depictions of Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings were made to glorify Hollywood and the creativity of man. Cecil B. DeMille felt morally and spiritual bound to present Biblical history as accurately and respectfully as possible. Aronofsky and Scott claim no such allegiance. To them, the Biblical “stories” are merely a starting point. They feel free to depart from Scripture as often and as widely as they choose to achieve their goal of an agenda-filled entertaining movie. The state-of-the-art is such that the modern movies can be wildly entertaining but at what price?
Flashback! For decades preceding World War II, Hollywood elites were fascinated supporters of Joseph Stalin and communism in general. The pre-war communist influence in Hollywood has been well documented. At that time, American Communist Party leader Earl Browder discouraged the making of propaganda films. Instead, he encouraged movie makers to slip in “a drop of progressive thought” in regular movies, about five minutes in each movie. In the decades since WWII, Hollywood continued and still does have a love affair with socialism, which is communism-lite. The agendas in Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings are clear. Despite the entertaining nature of the movies, the makers want to discredit Judo-Christian tradition by displacing it with humanist values and goals.
In 1956, Cecil B. DeMille billed his movie, The Ten Commandments, as the story of “the birth of freedom.” It was the story of the Moses-led exodus of the ancient Israelites, following 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Many centuries after the Hebrews were freed from Egyptian bondage, that God-given freedom was codified successively in the Magna Carta (1215), the Mayflower Compact (1620), the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639) and the Constitution of the United States (1787).
It is difficult to avoid billboards. But YOU get to choose movie, television, and Internet experiences. All are powerful art forms, powerful because they reach the depths of the soul branding an imprint in a powerful and lasting way. No art form is neutral; it will either lift the soul toward God or drag the soul down. There is no movie, television show, or Internet experience that is just entertainment and nothing else. Even if the art form does not have an explicit agenda, it absolutely does reflect the worldview of its creator. As they say in the radio editorials, “That’s our view; we welcome yours.”
4 thoughts on “Can an Unbeliever Make a Credible Movie About a Biblical Event?”
I cannot believe that an unbeliever can make a credible movie about a Biblical event. The unbeliever is unable to discern the Word of God, which of itself states”thy word is truth”. Hence the unbeliever is relying upon another source of reference. This reference will be a world view of the Biblical event. It is as tragic as the old story of the blind men describing the elephant where their descriptions of an elephant were based upon the limited perceptions of the part that was before them.
That’s right, Mark. Since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been saying, “Did God really say _____?” Although movies made by unbelievers about Biblical events may be very entertaining, they tend to directly or indirectly ask Satan’s original question, casting doubt on scripture and the faith of the viewer.
For example, Ridley’s rendition of “Exodus: Gods and Kings” portrays God speaking to Moses through an angry child, rather than the burning bush and a non-Biblical plague of crocodiles attacking people, whose spilled blood turned the Nile red. It’s best for Christians to avoid such movies. Even though pride may claim immunity from the negative effects of the movies, the reality is that it is virtually impossible not to be adversely affected. What do you think?
I didn’t see Noah yet. If I had, I wasn’t going to compare to being Biblical because I knew it wasn’t. I did see Exodus & if I wasn’t a Christian, I would have liked the movie. However, as a Christian, I am angry that he blatantly changed DeMille’s accurate account into a mockery of the Biblical account.
Thanks for the eye-witness account. Movies about Biblical events that stray from the Biblical account risks becoming a powerful negative influence on the viewers. In contrast, Cecil B. DeMille walked out on a stage before The Ten Commandments movie started and explained exactly how they did the research to preserve the accuracy of the movie. He ended by saying that they only hoped that they would be considered worthy of even putting such a story on the big screen. What do you think?