Filmmakers seem to love outdoing one another when it comes to biblical tales. From Cecil B. DeMille (
The Ten Commandments
) to Richard Fleischer (
) to the team of film giants behind
The Greatest Story Ever Told
, which included George Stevens and David Lean, the obsession usually is to go big: big stars, big sets, and most definitely huge, special-effects-driven set pieces.
Darren Aronofsky accomplished the feat with last year's Noah, a phantasmagoric telling of the biblical patriarch and the flood that made him famous.
Now, just in time for Easter and Passover, comes the latest epic, Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Scott, who launched his career with groundbreaking sci-fi treasures such as Blade Runner and Alien, reaches high - as high as the Tower of Babel, some critics might say - with this $140 million dramatization of the events memorialized each year at Passover.
Featuring Christian Bale as the most brash, buff, trim, and sexy version of the hero of the Torah since Charlton Heston, Exodus presents Moses as a former general and would-be aristocrat who breaks from his adoptive family to lead his people out of slavery and back to their homeland.
The film boasts not only luscious visuals, gorgeous battle scenes, and intense drama, but also an all-star cast including Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. (www.foxconnect.com; $29.98 DVD; $49.99 Blu-ray; rated PG-13)
Stories about mythical women
The Red Tent. As biblical tales go, this three-hour adaptation of the Anita Diamant novel is far more modest in scope than Exodus and its brethren. But it is far more thought-provoking and emotionally engaging. Shown on Lifetime over the winter holidays, the mini-series is about the life of Jacob's daughter Dinah, a minor figure from the Hebrew Bible - and, alas, most of the women in the text have been minor characters. Starring Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen), Morena Baccarin, and Minnie Driver, the story shows the role heroic women played in the biblical narrative. (www.sonypictures.com; $26.99; not rated)
Outlander: Season One, Volume One. Adapted from the best-selling Outlander book series from Diana Gabaldo, this time-traveling fantasy stars Irish actor Caitriona Balfe as a World War II nurse who finds herself stranded amid the bloody conflict between English Redcoats and Highlander rebels in the 18th century. Romance, action, more romance, and even more action follow. (www.sonypictures.com; $38.99 DVD; $55.99 Blu-ray; not rated)
Solomon and Sheba. The latest entry in the limited-edition Twilight Time Blu-ray collection, this digitally restored edition of the 1959 classic from King Vidor stars Yul Brynner as the biblical he-man, and Italian sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida as his sultry lover. It is available directly from Screen Archives Entertainment. (www.screenarchives.com; $29.95; not rated)