Sony // 1998 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // May 18th, 2010
Patrick Dempsey gets Biblical.
Jeremiah is a made-for-TV Bible movie most people would forget were it not for young hunk-in-the-making Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy) in the lead role. Surprisingly, the film follows the religious source material pretty well and keeps a bleak tone throughout, which is wholly appropriate for the tale of a man who prophesied the fall of a great city. There is a lot of temple politics and Babylonian destruction depicted, and there are not many happy moments for a tortured prophet of God saying unpopular things. It's certainly nowhere near The Passion Of The Christ levels of intensity, but for a television film it has some grit and an authentic 600 B.C. feel. Jeremiah was a prophet who was told by God of the imminent fall of the religious city of Jerusalem. He was imprisoned and tortured for voicing his convictions and speaking the Holy word. He lost everything by being pious and following his faith. He lived a lonely life, considered a raving lunatic by his community, and then was sadly proven right.
In the late '90s there were a long-running series of Biblical made-for-TV movies, all produced by a company called Five Mile River Films, which often had the financial backing to make these with pretty big names in the cast. Aside from a young Patrick Dempsey, Jeremiah also features one of the last film performances of Oliver Reed (Gladiator). Impressive sets and exteriors shot in Morrocco make the whole thing feel quite authentic and well done. They do compress a lot of history in a short amount of time, and religious students will note the absence of many episodes in Jeremiah's life for the sake of movie pacing. But the acting is fine throughout, and overall there's not much to complain about, as it respects the source material with a reverent tone.
The full screen transfer looks a bit like video, though with a constant wash of grain and a flat feeling. Particularly rough are night scenes or anything requiring great black levels which lack depth. Day scenes fare better with bright colors and clear images, yet they have grain and flecks of dirt throughout. Sound is a decidedly thin stereo which provides a bit of muddle for the dialogue, score, and atmospheric sounds. You may well need to enlist the help of the English subtitles now and then, because sometimes lines are tough to make out. There are no extras on the disc, which seems a shame given that you could easily round up some scholars to talk about Jeremiah the prophet or at least send somebody out to find out what Patrick Dempsey thinks about it all twelve years later.
Jeremiah will certainly entertain anybody looking for a Biblical epic of the kind that Hollywood no longer seems to make. Patrick Dempsey does a fine job in the lead role, we get a glimpse of Oliver Reed, and the handsome production values help set the right tone. Sony's DVD release is bare bones, and not much has been done to make it look very sharp, but it's finally released on DVD for fans. It's nice to see Bible stories told in a way the entire family can enjoy, so this one is a very safe bet for religious families who admire the tale of Jeremiah.
Not guilty and quite reverent to its source material.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Five Mile River Films