Paramount // 2005 // 168 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 16th, 2006
Moseying with Moses.
In 2005, author Bruce Feiler released his book Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses, which documented his on-foot/camelback/Land Cruiser-driving adventure through the Middle East, tracking the big happenings in the first five books of the Bible. This DVD is a companion piece to the book, yet stands alone as a fine documentary in its own right.
Walking the Bible runs about 160 minutes in length, chopped into three 55 minutes chapters. Each chapter has Bruce tackling a section of the Pentateuch, and we watch as he traces the routes of the some of the major Old Testament heavy-hitters: from Adam and Eve to Noah to Abraham to Joseph to the big dog Moses, Bruce and his camera crew traipse all over the Middle East. Sounds fun, huh?
Thankfully, it's Bruce who has to deal with the armed guards and the border checkpoints, and we can just recline and soak up the desert atmosphere. Bruce is accompanied by a variety of guides; most frequently some guy named Avner who really knows his geography and Biblical history. Here are the three episodes:
* "Go Forth: From Creation to Abraham"
Bruce's journey begins in what was once Mesopotamia, as he tries to seek out the former location of the Garden of Eden, which, anticlimactically, was a swamp. After that, it's off to Mount Ararat, the rumored final resting place of Noah's Ark. Along the way, Bruce messes around with math to figure out how Noah was able to load his boat with all the required animals. When he gets to the mountain, he's met with a crazy Bedouin who cryptically admits he's found some kind of Ark-proof, but can't show it to Bruce (or us). Bummer. Finally, Abraham's story is next; as Bruce walks the same land tread by the man God made the first covenant with.
* "A Coat of Many Colors: The Israelites in Egypt"
The focus of the episode is Egypt, beginning with Joseph's story of getting screwed over by his brothers and sold into slavery. This segues into Bruce discussing Egyptian culture back in the day and a trip to the pyramids. He takes us into some of the ancient tombs, and even scales a big-ass pyramid to look out on the expanse of Cairo and the Nile. Did the imprisoned Israelites build the pyramids? Going by the Bible's historical records, Bruce arrives at the conclusion that, no the Israelites would not have been able to construct the pyramids. So the extraterrestrials' legacy is safe. The finale is the introduction of Moses and an overview of the plagues, leading to the Exodus.
* "Toward the Promised Land: Forty Years in the Desert"
We're back with Moses, as Bruce and his guides trek through the barren wastelands of the Sinai desert, to the assumed location of Moses' powwow with God and his introduction of the Ten Commandments. Bruce takes us through Saint Catherine's Monastery, built near this holy site, an impressive museum housing ancient texts. Then it's up the mountain itself, where Bruce, at the summit, takes a breath and soaks in the view, and the seclusions, which he admits fuels his sense of the Divine.
This is a really slick two-disc set, and the content should appeal to pretty much all types of religious followers (aside from maybe the Robot Demon Cougar Cult out of northern Botswana). Jews and Christians, though, will likely appreciate the program more than anyone, as the path Bruce takes is integral to their faiths. As a host, Bruce is amicable and articulate, and, best of all (if you're a person subscribing to one of the aforementioned belief systems) reverential. He tempers many of his monologues with talk of being "rational" and "scientific," yet by the end of his trip he seems downright ecclesiastical.
But the big star of this feature is the breathtaking scenery. Bruce's trip covers a lot of ground and it is captured in its entire arid splendor: mountains, deserts, lakes, seas, cities, and all monuments between. Walking the Bible is a real treat for the armchair traveler.
Unfortunately, all of this wondrous scenic beauty is cornholed with a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer. The video quality is nevertheless sharp and detailed, but the extra effort to make it anamorphic would have gone a long, long way. A soundtrack for the visually impaired (featuring a woman relating the on-screen action) supplements a 2.0 stereo mix. Aside from some photo galleries, the extras are limited to DVD-ROM content. There you can access book excerpts and a Q&A with Bruce.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 168 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Galleries
* DVD-ROM Book Excerpt
* DVD-ROM Author Interview
* Official Site