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The biblical films can be divided into two sorts of screen adaptations:
accurate ones and sheer travesties. While the first group refer to
movies that treat the biblical content seriously and result in accurate
depictions, the latter ones refer to freely adapted Hollywood
productions that are rather 'celebrities vehicles' than 'biblical
stories.' And among such Old Testamental figures popular in cinema like
Abraham, Jacob, Moses, there is also Solomon, the son of king David, a
great ruler of Israel known for his wisdom, the king who built the
Temple of the Lord in the city of Jerusalem. But is it the only thing
to know about Solomon?
Of course, the significant factor for many people is the artistic side of the movie. Directed by Roger Young (known for having made quite a few biblical epics), the movie is made with a flair for history concerning sets, locations, wardrobe, music and the general mood of the distant past in which the action takes place. Pure imagination, at moments, that occurs convincing. Most of the scenes, including the funeral of David, the entrance of Queen Sheba, the wise judgment by Solomon or the daybreak of temple solemnity will stun you as a viewer and an epic buff. In spite of the fact that there aren't many extras in this movie, the producers make a perfect use of their budget limitations.
Besides, referring to the words of the Norwegian reviewer, I absolutely agree that the cast in the film are really unforgettable, including the famous celebrities as well as the unexperienced ones who are given the supporting roles. Ben Cross in the lead leaves a lasting impact on the viewer's imagination. He does a brilliant job portraying Solomon's weakness combined with wisdom, Solomon's deepening reason combined with growing tolerance. Vivica A. Fox calls our attention to the southern beauty that the famous Queen of Sheba must have been. She once again portrays a figure so popular in cinema and portrayed by Betty Blythe in 1921 and Gina Lollobrigida in 1959. There, however, the "Shebas" focused on the queen's "sex appeal" (using today's terms), Ms Fox, however, adds to it such virtues like affection and subtleness. Anouk Aimee is memorable as Bathsheba, now the elderly woman who is no longer absorbed by sensual love but what she concerns about is reign. Here, a note should be made of Max von Sydow as old king David in the first 50 minutes of the movie. But acting and visual merits are not all that make the film worth seeing.
SOLOMON is a new challenge for biblical movie buffs primarily because it is the first film that gives us a clear and a very accurate insight into Solomon, the king and Solomon, the man. Solomon, considered one of the wisest men of the Bible, is, at the same time, more revealed with his weaknesses and idolatry that appeared in the later years of his life and are indeed historical. The movie, in this case, seems to break a kind of cliché that arose at the Israeli king. Solomon, searching wisdom and asking for wisdom in the famous prayer to God, receives this and uses this for the goodness of his people. Yet, in the very depth of his heart, he lets himself be absorbed by personal choices over political ones; in other words, he begins to think of himself more as a man than as a king and that leads him to confusion and division of the kingdom. It is the Solomon who once built the Temple of the Lord and now finds everything vain. It is the Solomon whose heart was once devoted to one True God and now offers sacrifices to mute idols. It is not the Solomon absorbed by lust only, like it is in case of SOLOMON AND SHEBA, but the controversial personality that we find in the Bible. How universal it is!
Therefore, I would recommend everyone to see this film. Perhaps, it won't make you love biblical movies. Nevertheless, it will truly make you reflect that all the wisdoms of today's world are never able to achieve the spirit and psychology of a single biblical story.
Where this video is out of tune: Rehoboam is born in video AFTER Solomon is crowned--where the math of Scripture indicates he was born PRIOR ("Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king and reigned 17 years in Jerusalem"); Solomon's reign is described as 40 years. Rehoboam is described in video as if born to a Jewish mother--when his mother was Ammonitess named Naamah--this also leads to obvious plot-hole later (Zadok's statement that son born to Sheba-queen cannot be heir--when obviously not the case, as Rehoboam was born to Naamah) A great deal of the video centres on the Queen of Sheba--where Scripture has a few lines; in contrast, much less time is devoted to the construction and dedication of the Temple (to which Scripture devotes entire chapter, as it was the king's crowning-glory) Jeroboam is shown in rather good light, as being zealous for God and rebuking Solomon when the latter deviated--Scripture does not indicate Jeroboam as godly prior to becoming king of Northern Kingdom, and also indicates that he went further from God than Solomon, even to the point where he could not be turned back to God.
Although at times the story does drag, this television movie about the
man who took the Kingdom of Israel to the apogee of its power only to
have it fall apart after its demise, the film does stick pretty close
to biblical scripture as is dramatically possible. After all we do have
to make the story interesting and their are a lot of blank spaces left
in the Bible. All the better for a little dramatic license.
This is quite a bit different from the film Solomon and Sheba in which Yul Brynner took over from Tyrone Power. That film stopped with the defeat of brother Adonijah and his attempt to topple Solomon. This goes on right until the death of Solomon and the aftermath.
Ben Cross is a most human Solomon, granted by God the wisdom he sought to rule his kingdom, but still subject to human frailties. Cross as Solomon has a most healthy sexual appetite. In fact people including his greatest love, the Queen of Sheba played by Vivica Fox make him a present of some dancing girls, that is before she gives in to him. Like later rulers, Solomon makes political marriages and in those days if you could afford more than one wife men enjoyed polygamy. When he allowed foreign wives to worship their own Deities, that got everyone including the self described jealous God Jehovah upset.
After husband David's death, Bathsheba as played by Anouk Aimee exercises a great deal of influence behind the throne. She's a clever woman, the way Aimee plays her, she's not all that different from Sian Phillips as Claudia in I Claudius.
Another guy too clever by a half is Joab who moved to get Adonijah the throne. Joab was the commander of Israel's army under David and a man who took a lot on his own. Earlier in scripture he slew Absalom another of David's sons against the express order of his king. Played by television's Hercule Poirot David Suchet, Joab emerges as a reckless sort who gets dispatched probably for the good of Solomon's reign.
It is said in the Bible that Solomon's wives numbered in four figures and while that may have been good foreign policy, it didn't say much for the stability of home life and the example the king should set. After a while his own subjects are saying he's thinking with his groin, especially after the Queen Of Sheba leaves with their son, but Solomon increases the tax burden to set up an Israel to the south. We call it Ethiopia today.
Cross, Fox, and the rest of the cast do yeoman like service to the story of Solomon a complex figure that even religious scholars debate the merits of today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
King Solomon led a grand life, thus rating this epic movie
entitled,Solomon - the ninth in a series of TV movies dramatizing
famous stories from the Bible.It stars Ben Cross in the title role
together with Anouk Aimée, Vivica A. Fox, Max von Sydow and Maria
It is told in two parts.Director Roger Young chronicles the king's rise from the weakling mama's boy of Bathsheba to a ruler known for his wisdom, international alliances, construction of the Jewish temple, and oh yes, those thousand wives with concubines included.
The first part spends the first hour tracing the rivalry of Solomon with half-brother Adonijah, before and after the death of their father King David. It then makes a 10-year leap to dramatize his famous method of divining the true mother of a contested infant.
In the second part, the filmmakers embrace the legend that Solomon and the Queen of Sheba had a romantic as well as political alliance, suggesting that they were the star-crossed loves of each other's life and introducing some soft-focus nudity. With the queen's departure, Solomon descends into materialism and idolatry.
The performances are strong and the script, penned by Bradley Winter, artfully weaves in background information to give the viewer helpful historical context.Also,it makes the viewer realize the spiritual failures of King Solomon with his sins of idolatry,pride,arrogance and being a womanizer.Unfortunately,it fails to bring to a point that he happens to be the wisest man who lived on earth.And that what makes this adaptation lacking.It instead focused on Solomon's sins rather than his wisdom.
I fist saw a rather abrupt cut of Roger Young's "Solomon" in a bible
collection. Still it was so good I was determined to see the full
version. Boy was i glad I did! Ben Cross does an absolutely amazing job
as the title character, much like in "Jesus" and "Jacob" The film
makers aren't afraid to present these legendary people as people! They
have loves and fears and aren't so perfect and aloof. Cross is young
and a bit arrogant at first, but very loyal to his father David, played
beautifully by the great Max von Sydow, and his mother Bathsheba. The
early part of the movie has him dealing with his scheming half-brother
Adonijah and the general Joab, played by David Suchet. overcoming both
he asks God for wisdom to rule his people wisely. Like any of us would
be God is impressed and Solomon makes great judgments, never allowing
his priests or prophets to rule him.
The legend of his wisdom grows till it reaches the beautiful Queen of Sheba, played with nice understatement by Viveca A. Fox. She journey to Isreal to see the truth of this legend. Here Solomon finds true love at last, but under pressure and unable to convince Sheba to stay in Israel he is left alone and despite still ruling wisely begins to anger the people by allowing freedom of worship. Hmmm. like the U.S.? Upon his death the kingdom is divided again and Israel will never again be a world power as it was under him.
I thought he acting, sets and photography were all first rate. I really like this move, yes it's long, but it's well worth your time, even if biblical epics aren't your usual speed. Well recommended.
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