"Bible stories are hot and Hollywood studios are rushing to cash in. "
Bible stories are hot and Hollywood studios are rushing to cash in. Leading the pack, Viacom is teaming up with Paramount Pictures for a $125 million epic, Noah
, starring Russell Crowe. MGM is planning a remake of the 1959 blockbuster Ben Hur
, which will place greater emphasis on Jesus. And Time Warner is developing a a film about Moses, with Steven Spielberg mentioned as the possible director. These are just a few of a "boatload of religious films" expected from major movie studios, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Although these films are capitalizing on public interest in the Bible -- the bestselling book of all time -- and the heroes and villains of religious history, there is one story, says eminent filmmaker Armondo Linus Acosta, that has never been made: The Last Supper. Yes, The Last Supper is celebrated in artworks and religious ceremonies, but no film has ever explored the inner worlds of the Apostles and Jesus in this seminal moment for Christianity and the world. Acosta's passion to tell this story, entitled The Last Supper According to Judas, was evident in my Skype interview with him at the Academy of the Film and the Arts in Belgium, which he founded. Here are portions of our interview:
Starr: Bible films have a long history. What do you think about them? And do you have a favorite?
Acosta: Long before I began working in the film industry, I was a voracious film buff. As my mother and father were in "showbiz" I saw virtually every major film that was released from the late forties till the mid sixties. We have to remember that the blockbuster spectacle films of the day were the Biblical films. In terms of genre films, there is no question that every major studio made their Greatest Story Ever Told -- which I have to say is my favorite Biblical film of the three that I consider to be filmically masterful: The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Bible, and Franco Zeffirelli's most lyrical Jesus of Nazareth. Remember that the directors of The Greatest Story Ever Told, George Stevens, David Lean and Jean Negulesco, are three great storytelling film directors. With The Last Supper, I have no intention whatsoever of making another Biblical film as such. We have come a long way in storytelling on film. I believe all those rich, religious films of the past have invited us now to go deeper into the intimacy of the characters, and deeper into in the minds and feelings behind the words. Now, we can let visual beauty be the storyteller. Man has the tendency to forget what he has heard -- but rarely what he has seen.
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