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The Bible: In the Beginning… (1966)

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TIME    Monstrometer4

 

Horrible Bosses: Genesis

Starting with the most legitimate voice-over in the history of film, the ambitiously titled The Bible starts at Genesis 1.1 and treads majestically until the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first ten minutes or so are elemental stock shots, God’s PowerPoint on His creation. Gods creates stuff in the morning and evening of each day, so one wonders what he’s doing of His afternoons.

Then comes Adam, a thigh coily raised to avoid full frontal, but one’s get some butt candy, quickly followed by Eve, in full frontal with her wig glued to her breasts, then one’s salacious eye gets double butt candy and that will have to do until debauchery reigns supreme in the Cities of the Plains. So far it’s The Blue Lagoon with a Prokofiev soundtrack.

God, not unlike Barbe Bleue, likes to test His staff so he forbids A&E to tamper with “The Tree of the Knowledge”, because knowledge is power and power is evil, one assumes. Apart from this caveat, they are blessed and free to multiply. Not having knowledge of how one multiplies, Adam tries interpretative dance, jumping around Eve like a horny baboon.

Everyone knows what happens next, they bite The Fruit of The Tree of The Knowledge, Eve has her first orgasm and discovers grrrl power over men. Knowledge breeding fashion sense, A&E create the monokini. God, jealous not to have thought of it first, reverts to Olde English to fire his employees of the month from Eden Industries.

Interpretative dance is an effective multiplier: Eve gives birth to Cain and to Abel. By the time they reach adulhood, A&E’s fashion acumen has expanded to fur capes and leather shorts. Adam, reaching the twilight of his years by way of a fake beard and a stick, gives a last show and retires from interpretative dance, having trained Cain to succeed him.

But high art comes with a price: yes interpretative dance can multiply, but it can also divide, and substract. Cain kills Abel, the later moaning softly while the former pants heavily in a relatively awkward scene. The Eye in the Sky is pissed off and Cain is banished, multiplying a thousand times into vast tribes learning the secrets of the Earth.

A&E have one last dance and give birth to Seth, who in turn, etc. and here comes Noah (John Huston himself), ridiculed by his fellow tribesmen for building a boat on dry land. They take turn making jokes at Noah’s expense, inventing standup comic in the process. Noah is not fazed, and with nothing to promise to his brethren but a life of hardship with the occasional cruise, he scrupulously follows the Boss’ orders, even when his sons doubt them. “Thou shalt be ashamaid”, scorns his mother. “We have need of more pitch”, utters Noah, when, come on, this must have been the easiest movie to pitch to the studio like, ever.

Fourty days and night of rain are forecast, but humble as he is Noah does not build an executive cabin for his family so they share the hull with wild animals unused to being at sea and everything goes very well thank you. Luring them Hamelin-style with his double flute, Noah packs an Unesco list of the animal reign into the Ark, the male family members keeping themselves busy by fondling the ostriches’ behind. For obvious reasons, music turns to a pastiche of Saint-Saens “The Carnival of the Animals”, but there are no reptiles in sight. Are there no motherfucking snakes on that motherfucking Ark?

As right as rain as rain can be, rain starts right on time. Fellow tribesmen cry for help, inventing choral music before drowning. At this point one muses about the Ark capsizing, Poseidon-like, creationism then giving way to darwinism, a theory worthy of more investigation that this already too lenghty a review allows. One is helped in his musing by a rather long documentary on biodomics, but aren’t animal reaction shots cute? Look, they invented Hungry Hippos!

Fast forward to the summit of Mount Ararat, a not overly hospitable place, but it feels soooo good to touch stone while elevating music plays. Noah puts the whole family on speakerphone for the Boss’ congrats. By the way, God’s voice is also John Huston’s.

After a brief interlude during which Nimrod, a degenerate wearing gold lamé, make up and jewellery, shoots an arrow to the sky and God promptly fires him, ten generations pass. Ten generation, people. That’s a tad more impressive than the usual “Two years later”…

Then, boom, Abraham (George C. Scott) pops up, looking like a drifter and a drunk, two traits Ava Gardner could never resist in men. She plays his wife Sarah, wearing what appears to be a mix of two designers as old as the Old testament, namely Issey Miyake and Missoni, and she looks like a Texan divorcee unhappy about her prenup. “I bring love to thy tent”, says Abraham, to which she answers something like “I place thy hand over my bossom”, but she’s nonetheless menopausal so God creates pregnancy by proxy through cattle sacrifice, which seems to work as well as interpretative dance was in the old days.

So Ava weaves like Penelope, Abraham fucks the maid and Isaac , ” as his name should be called”, is born. By that time, thy stoppeth to be ashamaid to be just ashamed, which somehow depreciates the feeling. “I tried to wax the whole, should I have pleasure”, says Ava, but almost three hours into the movie one could have misinterpreted her line.

Meanwhile, some decadence is blossoming in Sodom, or Gomorrah, or either or both. Lot, his wife and his daughters are sent to said Cities of the Plains in order to multiply (have they ever heard of interpretative dance, one wonders) with the last righteous men possibly living there. There are under protective custody of three angels, all played by Peter O’Toole in a hood.

In Sodom (or is it Gomorrah?) interpretative dance has been pushed to its artistic limits by way of leather short shorts, bestiality and general promiscuousness. No righteous male being found, God nukes both cities, Lot’s wife is punished for her curiosity and Operation Sodom is a fiasco, not only they didn’t multiply or even save anyone but they lost one agent.

God still being an horrible boss, the movie finally reaches its climax with attempted human sacrifice. Abraham, senile by then, brings his son to a three day trip to Sodom in order to tie him up and penetrate him with a big blade. Ahem. A lenghtly guilty trip ensues, Abraham neveertheless proceeds but God, always partial to servile obedience, withholds his hand. The son smiles, because Dad is awesome, he did not kill him and stuff.

And then… And then the movie ends. One is snapped out of slumber thinking “What? I paid to see the Bible and I only got half Genesis!” As Baroness Margaret Thatcher, another horrible boss, would have put it, “I WANT MY MONEY BACK!”.

A quick IMDB check reveals that Dino de Laurentiis originally hired Robert Bresson as à director. This leaves even the most jaded film buff speechless…

IMDB page

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