Monday, January 19, 2009


I'm cautiously excited about a new series NBC has coming out. It's called "Kings" and it appears to be a modern-day retelling of the story of David and Saul. You can learn about the show here. You can read the story of David here.

I've often thought that the Samuel/Kings/Chronicles narrative would make a fabulous movie or TV series (or comic book, or something). Film versions of Bible stories tend to be centered around either Exodus or Easter or the Christmas story (all of which are great, mind you) and tend to be depressingly traditional. Everybody wears bathrobes, like they stepped off a flannel-graph display, and everyone speaks in stilted, grand cadences. And until fairly recently, all the Jewish characters (Moses, Jesus, etc.) were suspiciously Norwegian-looking.

But so many more interesting things could be done with the stories. Make Jesus black in the South during Jim Crow, and make the Roman Empire into the KKK. Make Moses the adopted son of a factory owner at the height of the Industrial Revolution, leading his people out of unfair working conditions. Or zoom in a little bit. Tell the story from Peter's perspective. Or Pilate's. Or Judas'. Mel Gibson did this a little bit with The Passion of the Christ, in that the film is really just about Jesus' crucifixion (I wish he'd done more than this, actually; the flashback scenes between Jesus and Mary were the best in the film, but I give him credit for trying).

And the story of David and Saul is absolutely ripe for this kind of artistic interpretation. It's epic. It's tragic. It's full of Shakespearean intrigue. It is not a pious Sunday school story. Sex! Violence! Betrayal! Hundreds of foreskins! Revenge! Impotence!

You really could make a show about this that could last for years. David's rise from small-town shepherd boy, to new king favored by God, to arrogant rapist/murderer, to repentant yet inevitably declining monarch...he's a tragic hero the Greeks wish they'd thought of. Plus he's the rock star of the ancient world. Ooh, that would be interesting...David as young wannabe to Saul's aging rock god...

What biblical story do you think is unjustly ignored, and deserves a good retelling? How would you tell it?

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

No ideas. But "Hundreds of Foreskins!"--hilarious! I actually laughed out loud...