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Regardt van den Bergh
The tribes of Israel need to defeat the superior might of the Philistines: "Now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." (I Samuel, 8:5). And so the prophet Samuel gives the Hebrews their first king, Saul, a simple farmer, who with God's help becomes a brave and mighty warlord who leads the united tribes of Israel against their enemies. Saul, however, has incessant doubts about his mission. Not trustful enough of divine wisdom, he acts of his own accord and thus sins against the Lord. The influential prophet Samuel turns away from Saul in order to select a new king according to God's will: David. He is still a young boy, tending sheep in the fields, when, secretly Samuel oints him as the next king of the Israelites. When David - as courageous as he is intelligent - emerges victorious from his encounter with Goliath, the Philistines' most powerful warrior, he becomes a hero. His fame arouses the jealousy of King Saul, who senses that David is going to dispute his... Written by
A few solid performances surmount low-buck production.
David has been described as "the most winsome figure in the Bible" and in the dictionary "winsome" means charming. Unfortunately there is little charm in the stiff and mannered performance by Nathaniel Parker as the adult David. Nor is the Saul of Jonathan Pryce any better. Slight and balding, Pryce lacks the physical presence to make a convincing Saul--first king of Israel and a character as tragic as David was charming.
However, among a mainly British cast there are a few standouts. Most memorable are the portrayal of Absalom the rebellious son by young Rowan, the portrayals of Abner and Joab-- generals to Kings David and Saul--and in a small role, the actor who played adviser to Absalom in the very late sequences--and took his own life knowing that when his excellent advice went unheeded, it sealed his and Absalom's doom.
As Samuel, Prophet in Israel, a bearded and heavily made-up Leonard Nimoy seemed more an East European **rebbe** of the late 19th century, folksy and unpretentious, than a character of 3,000 years ago. Yet this contrasted nicely at times with the stagey manner of the other lead players. Sheryl Lee--more dancer than actress--did her best as Bathsheba, the woman beautiful enough to make a man disobey God but her acting had little conviction nor did she look all that dazzling.
It is in the outdoor and crowd scenes that that cheap production values of this made-for- cable video become painfully evident. It was filmed in Morocco, actually a promising location for a Bible epic, but apparently rushed to production with little attention to realism or coaching of locally recruited extras.
"The Story of David" (1976) starring a young Timothy Bottoms in Part I and filmed in Israel did much more with as little or less. THAT David truly was winsome--and "ruddy" as the Book of Samuel describes the shepherd boy who became king.
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