Joseph (1995– )
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'Joseph' captures the power, pathos, and splendor of the greatest of Bible characterizations--Joseph, the hated brother, becomes not only lord over his entire family, but the second most powerful man in the ancient world. Ben Kingsley, as he did in 'Moses', and Martin Landau (as Jacob) steal the show, but Paul Mercurio does an admirable job as the main character. Vincenzo Nicoli is outstanding as the vengeful brother Simeon, and, as the last to confront the powerful Joseph--now his savior, Nicoli does nothing less than reduce us to tears.
The film is also true to the many nuances of Egyptian and Hebrew history, which most audiences would neither notice, nor care to notice; yet, such nuances prove highly effective! To note the Egyptians' penchant for cleanliness, and to depict Joseph's famous coat as not necessarily 'many colored' shows the expert research which went into this film.
Although some explicit (though historically accurate) sexual scenes must be screened from the very young, this film captures not only the drama and climactic ascension to a powerful emotional conclusion, but also the characterization of moral goodness so extant in Joseph. I watched 'Joseph' with my middle school students, and as they busily synthesized their thirty or so 'characteristics of a role model' into an essay, one of them asked why there were no such heroes today. The question at once revealed not only the impression this film made, but also the perceptive dearth of role-models in our modern society.
Though including a few anachronistic liberties (such as Joseph's "My God, my God..." paraphrase of Christ's cry from the cross, 'Joseph' is a winner! It is THE best of the TNT series, of which only 'Jacob' was a flop. Kudos for the direction, musical score, and casting directors; they are well-deserving of the awards which this film has earned. To quote Potifer: "...what matters most is the truth", and 'Joseph' delivers it with Biblical reverance and Hollywood expertise. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Since my school classes covered the story of Joseph with Old Testament commentaries, I am impressed with the remarkable precision in the film from a Jewish perspective. They include Joseph's meeting with a "man" (i.e. angel), his title as "Tzapaneth Paneah", and the incident of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. While some of the brothers dispute with their father Jacob, it is Judah who redeems himself from his errors.
The casting is well-credited with Ben Kingsley (superb as ever) as Potiphar. Paul Mercurio as Joseph is a quiet and righteous man who restrains himself in the face of fear and temptation.
The simple backgrounds and sets work well and while this is not an elaborate film, it is a great biblical one. Whether others are watching this film for educational, spiritual, or personal reasons, I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.
The production values and script are as great as ever for this series, with the Moroccan locations perfectly standing in for Canaan and Egypt (the depiction of the famine in particular is terrifyingly realised). What stands out most, though, is the calibre of the cast in this one.
Ben Kingsley far and away steals the show as the complicated Potiphar; he's a man you could easily hate when he first shows up, but there's much more to him than that. Kingsley isn't the only winner here. Martin Landau, as the ancient elder Jacob, is also outstanding, adding real heart to the production. Lesley Ann Warren is sexy and delicious as Potiphar's scheming wife. Paul Mercurio (STRICTLY BALLROOM) makes a charismatic Joseph, even if he didn't entirely lose his Aussie accent, and it makes you wonder what happened to him.
Yes! That is the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, the story of a young boy sold into slavery by his envious brothers who overcomes particular hardship and injustice in order to be placed one day over the Pharaoh's house, his people and his entire kingdom, in order to become "Zapaneth Paneah" – a 'saviour' for Egypt and all surrounding lands; finally, in order to embrace his brothers in tears of pardoning.
Although the story of Joseph was, for a long time, quite neglected in cinema, the new biblical project in the 1990s could not skip this significant tale after ABRAHAM with Richard Harris and JACOB with Matthew Modine. I was quite skeptical about this movie in the mid-1990s taking into consideration some critics' opinions. The director, Roger Young, is known for taking liberties with historical content and, as he was not known in my country at that time, some critics spread negative viewpoints about the production before its TV premiere in Poland. Nevertheless, what we saw during the 1996 Easter time was far beyond our expectations. Again, critics disappointed us terribly...
The entire movie is faithful to the Bible to such extend that there are hardly any changes, even minor ones, which makes it one of the most accurate productions ever. Yet, it is not a sort of sheer continuous narrative in accordance with the Bible but a very innovative execution of the captivating, mesmerizing content. The story in most part of the film's first half is told 'in media res.' We get the insight into an Egyptian slave market and a slave boy of Canaan who opens his mouth only in prayer bought by a rich master Potiphar (Ben Kingsley). Although things begin to improve for both, a woman steps in... Joseph (Paul Mercurio) tells his dramatic story to his master just after the unfair accusations have been made up by Potiphar's wife (Lesley Ann Warren) and... everything gets so vivid, combined with emotions and personal suggestions. Thanks to that, Potiphar is more aware of Joseph's innocence. In a memorable scene, his wife asks him sarcastically: "What is more important to you? His God or my good name?" his thrilling answer sounds "Truth" ... At the same time, Joseph shouts desperately "Lord, my God why have you forsaken me?" Events to come truly prove that his God was with him...
However, besides the story that has overwhelmed lots of different people for centuries, "Joseph" offers much more. When the story itself does not suffice for many (that is the case with all biblical material) what we want, as viewers, is something that will remain in our memories, that will leave us breathless, something awesome within the perfectly familiar walls of our knowledge and experience. Something like that may be provided only by certain artistic merits. "Joseph" as a movie offers us all of them including lovely cinematography, memorable sets and very good camera work. While watching the movie for the second time, I paid particular attention to camera work, to single images and I was mesmerized by some moments which are both symbolically and visually significant.
The cast... Paul Mercurio in the lead portrays a man of integrity, a man of forgiveness, a man who has truly seen the evils of rape and vengeance and, consequently, appears to be "endowed with a spirit of God" as poetically described in the script, or, more realistically, very reliable to all the people around, even to such greatness itself like the Pharaoh himself. He is boyish for women, upright for masters, gentle for brothers and faithful to his values. All these unique features of Joseph are beautifully portrayed by Paul Mercurio. The supporting cast include great stars of cinema as well as unknown actors who do equally fine jobs in their roles. Ben Kingsley as Potiphar focuses on patience, Martin Landau as Jacob emphasizes father's love, Stefano Dionisi as Pharaoh highlights confusion of a ruler and Vincenzo Nicoli as, perhaps, Joseph's most wicked brother, Simeon, stresses integral aspect of jealousy and hatred. A mention must be made of beautiful Monica Bellucci as Pharaoh's wife. But a nice contrast is highlighted by two women: Valeria Cavalli as Asenath: a subtle, beautiful woman pleasing to Joseph and Lesley Ann Warren as wicked, lustful and cruel Potiphar's wife.
In short, for me, Joseph has been a biblical experience on screen, a movie that touched me to tears, a motion picture that addressed my heart. Whenever I am depressed, sad or tired of earthly vanity, it is one of the films that takes me into a consoling reality. Timeless story of a gentle heart that brings all worldly revenge, cruelty and jealousy to their knees, which never stops saying "Forgiveness is greater than vengeance; compassion more powerful than anger"
Also excellent is Ben Kingsley, Martin Landau, Leslie A. Warren. This film is thoughtful, beautifully photographed and directed. For me it is essential viewing for audiences who want accurate Biblical stories, as well as for those who simply like well-produced movies.
Joseph truly has a character to aspire to as followers of the deeper nature of humanity, and his characterization is both believable and amazing in this rendition. Because it isn't certain who really made this story work, I have to give everyone in the production credit.
But aside from those minor qualms, this was an exceptionally rewarding film. The high point of the entire movie was when Pharaoh unexpectedly promotes Joseph. You can almost see the waves of spiritual promotion wash over him, with him barely comprehending what is happening, each wave justifying and triumphing over all the pain that led to this moment, and you feel yourself there with him. This was an unforgettable tribute to the Lord's faithfulness. That and a few other scenes were so well done that they will permanently color the way I now read the text.
Landau as Jacob, Kingsley as Potiphar, the guy who played Pharaoh and the woman who became wife to Joseph (wise as well as beautiful) were superb supports to the title role.
Also, the musical score to this film is notably beautiful and stirring. It never overbears, but sublimely supports the essence of what is going on in the movie.
Catch this gem if you haven't yet.
Paul Mercurio plays the title role together with a great and talented cast of supporting actors and actresses such as Martin Landau,Ben Kingsley,Lesley Ann Warren and Monica Belluci playing important roles such as Jacob,Potiphar,Potiphar's Wife and the Pharaoh's wife respectively.
This three-hour film takes us to different stages of Joseph's life from his childhood,his life as a slave,his tenure in prison,his promotion as governor in Egypt and when he and his family get reunited together during the period of world famine.
This film was definitely inspiring especially to those who is familiar with the story of Joseph.Its themes of faith,hope,forgiveness,compassion,humility and moral uprightness will definitely inspire Christians and non-Christian viewers alike to hold the same virtues in their life especially during tough and challenging periods of their life.Also,the acting of the film was also wonderful especially the talented supporting cast like Ben Kingsley,Martin Landau and Lesley Ann Warren.Mercurio did a commendable job as Joseph.Finally,the soundtrack of Italian film composer Ennio Morricone of the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly fame is also worthy of mention.
This film is Biblically accurate, well-acted, and the producer and director are to be praised for the sound Biblical research.Although some of the sexually explicit scenes,it should be screened from the very young.It is an ideal platform from which teens can search out characteristics of moral uprightness in Joseph.
The performances were great.Kingsley steals the show while Mercurio does an admirable job.The only flaw I could find in it is that it isn't powerful as other Biblical films and TV movies.But nevertheless, it still tells a good story of a man who never lost faith in the Lord amidst all the trials and sufferings that he experienced before achieving success in life.
Mercurio was perfect for the role and Kingsley is always exceptional. What a shame this film and others like it are not out on DVD. Pardon my saying so, but thats a sin!
Joseph (1995) (TV) revealed to me Kingsley's non--negligible talent and instantly turned me into a fan of his;I remember I have found something about him in an old almanac, and I was gathering every information available about this unbelievably subtle and endearing actor.His role showed a finesse that it is not so uncommon in some TV productions (I think mostly about Volonte in the TV Charterhouse;or about some roles in the LA PIOVRA series--performed by giants of the screen).In Europe,such finesse is appreciated in the TV movies.
As an artist, Kingsley is, much like Landau, uneven; GANDHI is an execrable movie. Even if generally crushed by too bad scripts (and/or by crap roles), Kingsley is nonetheless uneven himself. Often uninspired, maybe bored, even inept. Yet he could have had his share with the best; as I remarked him in this Biblical story, it seemed to me he was one of the supplest and imaginative and delicatethat gleam of tenderness and kindness of his .As a weird ,peculiar looking Egyptian, he gives a gentlemanly performance. He puts and gives some real understanding of a life context. I have never found again this beauty of performance; was he an oneshot actor?
But the story would not have been so greatly told without top-notch performances. Paul Mercurio portrays Joseph, whose witness to these sins allows him to grow into a man of unquestionable moral value, along with the ability to forgive even the most grievous actions toward him (witness how he treats Adnan, played by Warren Clark, the foreman who at first abuses him, then helps when it comes out that the man cannot read).
Ben Kingsley portrays Potiphar, chief of Pharoah's palace guard. He plays the role with a certain humor, though ultimately confused when he gives Joseph run of his house, only to find Joseph accused of betraying that trust. His decision how to handle this shows a man with great strength of character.
Martin Landau gives his usual bravura performance as Jacob, head of the tribe of children of Israel. Jacob is flawed, perhaps naively causing the resentment felt toward Joseph by his brothers, but he is thoroughly justified in the actions he takes after the behavior of his sons.
The only misstep in casting, IMO, is that of Lesley Ann Warren as Potiphar's wife. Her giggly style of acting is just a little out of step with the fine actors in the other roles.
This is a biblical epic even an atheist can enjoy. Very well done.