Judge David Johnson knows what this set needs: Amalekite smackdown!
"Let there be dubbing!"
VCI has a jumbo box set offering for you aficionados of Italian biblical epics from the '60s. How could you say no?
Facts of the Case
Epics of the Old Testament is an assemblage of individual VCI releases, with the added bonus of a half-hour short film called Genesis. All four films, plus Genesis, are four-decade old Italian productions, using dubbed English. The four films in the set are:
Telling the famous story of the shepherd boy who would go on to lead Israel as its greatest king. Before the glory (and illicit rooftop voyeurism) David has to cut his way though the sinister Philistines. And to do that, he would have to square off against their mightiest warrior, the towering Goliath, who's only weakness is a grossly over-inflated ego and an underestimation of the importance of helmets that cover the forehead.
The man in the technicolor dreamcoat is tracked from his early days as his father's favorite son, to the betrayal by his jealous brothers, his imprisonment in Egypt, and later, his ascension to his Karl Rove-like status in Pharaoh's court. But when his brothers come crawling back for help, will Joseph take pity on them or open up a can of whoop-ass?
Two heavy-hitters from the Old Testament split the spotlight: Gideon and Samson. Gideon is instructed by God to put together an exclusive fighting force to take down the scummy Midianites; and Samson would go on to be a legend because of his great strength, and his weakness towards cunning women.
And here's the story about Jacob, the, uh, man who fought with God. While hanging around the wilderness, Jacob finds himself confronted by a mysterious stranger. The two throw down for an obscene amount of time, until Jacob learns that he's been wrestling an actual angel. God sees the potential in this scrapper, and big things unfold.
Here are the Closing Statements from the individual movies, all of which I had reviewed previously. If you want a more detailed look, scope out the reviews.
Saul and David is large-scale Biblical storytelling, but, brother, it is slooooooooowwww. A bummer considering that David's is one of the more exciting stories to be found in The Bible.
Another decent dose of Biblical narrative, Joseph and His Brethren is a functional, if ugly, addition to your budding Pentateuch-on-Film collection.
Great Leaders of the Bible does the Old Testament old school well. The film is aged, and the technical merits do nothing to augment them, but the acting and design are impressive. Still, I couldn't tell you the ideal audience for this film.
If your bag is the Biblical Epic From Back in the Day, Jacob, the Man Who Fought With God will help piece together the puzzle. Kids will likely be bored, but a stronger presentation lifts this disc above its counterparts. Just know that Abraham, while denied top billing, commands about one-third of the film.
As for the bonus Genesis film, found only on this set, I say this: if you enjoyed any of the four films, you'll likely enjoy this. It works as a nice preamble to the features, running through three major Bible stories in its brief 30-minute runtime. First, you get the Creation story, narrated over pans and scans of paintings (thankfully we don't have to endure any awkward Adam and Eve scenes), then it's on to live-action, where we get the Cain and Abel story, and it all ends with the big capper, the story of Noah. Oh, and as an endnote there's a brief bit about the Tower of Babel. The Noah stuff is easily the coolest, packed with animals, pissy sinners drowning, and miniature boats bouncing through fabricated waves. It's not Michael Bay, but Genesis rounds out this set well.
Like the films it supplements, Genesis is presented in a no-frills non-anamorphic widescreen transfer, to varying degrees of quality. The mono sound mix does little to illustrate the vastness and majesty of the Creator.
Here it is—your complete guide to the Old Testament as told by red-headed Italians in the '60s.
The accused is offered a bowl of lentils in exchange for its birthright.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
• Genesis Bonus Feature
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.