Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Year of Release:
Of all the big-screen adaptations of Biblical history, this one probably strays farthest from “what is written.”
The film opens with the beheading of Amalekite King Agag after King Saul had disobeyed God by keeping him alive, but like most other scenes it is inaccurate. Young David (Ian Sears) kills Goliath, but needs three shots to do it. David (played as an adult by Richard Gere) becomes a rival to King Saul (Edward Woodward). Saul’s second major sin, offering a sacrifice even though he was not a priest, is shown; but it too has been altered.
Depending on your tolerance and point of view, the graphic war violence could be offensive; what I consider more offensive is that almost nothing, even in the battle scenes, is shown as it actually happened. Of course, they did manage to include a scene of Bathsheba bathing, with a lingering frontal view; the wedding bed scene between David and Michal includes partial nudity also. Richard Gere is a Buddhist today; I don’t know what his beliefs were at the time this film was made. But the scene where he pretends to dance in joy before the Ark of the Covenant is so unconvincing that it’s almost laughable. Considering his acting skills in a variety of other roles, something seems very wrong with his work here. The greatest assault of all on the Biblical account is that while the Scriptures clearly point out that Saul and David were very different at heart and therefore came to different ends, the film uses trickery and imaginary events to set the careers of the two in parallel and portray them as essentially the same. This one isn’t worth a 99 cent rental; it isn’t even worth the trouble of carrying it home from the library.