Thursday, March 17, 2016

“The devil in the details”

    One of the most controversial things a movie producer can do is make a movie about a Biblical character. There is no way on earth you’re going to get the story right. That’s because Biblical stories, for the most part, suffer from a dearth of details.

    In the Old Testament, the prophets wrote down “what” happened, but seldom shed light on “how” it happened. When I was a kid in Sunday school, most of my questions were answered with “If God wanted you to know, He would’ve told you.”

    I’ve seen the first episode of “Prophets and Kings”, and, though not a lot happened in the first hour, there was a bunch of made up stuff. And, there will be a lot more fabrications in the subsequent episodes, but I’ll still watch.

    One Bible Story that Hollywood hasn’t done much with is the story of Adam… before Eve showed up and the focus became nakedness. There is an account of Adam in Genesis that just begs for explanation. Let me read it. Genesis 2:19. “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”

    If you’re a moviemaker, how do you portray something like that? With no more than we’re told, you’d pretty much have to turn it into a comedy. Personally, I would choose not to make up dialog for God. Even though I see Him as having the best sense of humor there is, while others may read it as blaspheme and decide to carpet bomb my mangy rear.

    No, I’d have God send an angel over to Adam to checkout his progress on animal-naming. The angel walks up to Adam and asks him how it’s going. Adam tells him that he’s named a few of the animals but keeps forgetting what he named ‘em. He asks if he should be writing stuff down.

The angel asks Adam how he would choose to write the names down. “I don’t mean to insult your intelligence,” the angel says, “But what are you going to write with and what are you going to write it on? More to the point, you don’t know even know what language you’re speaking. And you wanna write stuff down? Criminee, Man! Get your head in the game!”

The angel suggests Adam just make up ways to remember the names. “For example, take that four-legged creature over there that’s always chewing. It’s got that four-handled bag attached to its underside and occasionally makes an unusual noise. Come up with a name that might convey one or two of these features. -- Cow? Where did that come from? You’re just pulling stuff out of the air. No wonder you can’t remember names.”

The angel suggests Adam call the animal a “Moo” since that was the sound it was making. Adam agrees to a compromise, and calls the animal a “Moo Cow.” The angel then points to a huge creature with four legs, with huge ears, a large nose and two huge, white horns coming out on each side of it’s nose. The angel says, “Okay, what are you going to call this giant creature with the big ears, long nose and the big white horns?”

Adam tells the angel that he’s already named the creature and settled on the name “Elephant.” The angel slaps his forehead, nearly dislodging his halo. “For the life of me, I don’t know where you come up with this stuff. I mean, look how big it is. You could call it Big ‘un. Or Jumbo, Flat Ears, Trumpet Nose… But Elephant? – Give me a second to reread my instructions.”

The angel pulls a tablet out and reads, “’And whatever Adam called each living creature that was its name.’ – All right. Elephant it is. In a few centuries there will be a little something called The Tower of Babel and at that time all these names will probably be changed.”

Adam says, “I’m only catching onto a fraction of what comes out of your face opening. To tell the truth, I don’t know why I have to name these critters. I’m the only one here, and I don’t give two hoots what their names are.

The angel says, “Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that God hasn’t told you about other humans showing up?  Whoa.” The angel goes on to tell Adam that God was making these creatures out of dirt, so that Adam might find a “help mate” for himself. But, that wasn’t going to happen, so God was going to make Adam a partner by removing one Adam’s ribs.

Adam goes berserk. He says, “Wait a minute! God made me out of dirt and he made all of these creatures out of dirt, but he’s going to make me a friend by taking a rib? What’s a rib? And, do I have any spares? What other surprises do you have for me?” 

The angel calms Adam down and assures him that he’s going to like his friend. “And, God’s going to let you name your friend. Any ideas? --  Phyllis? – That’s not going to fly. Let’s skip that part and get back to the animal names…”

See what I mean? The only way to write a script that doesn’t stray from the text would be to use a God given gift called “imagination.” Something tells me that God does not fear man’s imagination. . – Of course, I would’ve drawn the line at the rock people that showed up in the movie “Noah.” -- I’m just saying.


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