Last night I had the unique opportunity to attend a pre-screening of the new NBC series A. D.: The Bible Continues, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Chaplain Barry C. Black, the Chaplain of the Senate, and Senator James Inhofe hosted the event at the United States Capitol. This is one of those fun perks of Donelle’s job.
First, I was excited to finally meet Chaplain Black. I’m so thankful to Sen. Inhofe for hosting the event, affording me the chance to meet the chaplain. As a speaker and teacher, he is as powerful as he is prayerful – and truly filled with the Holy Spirit. In fact, the word he shared about his experience with the Holy Spirit was particularly meaningful to me – but I’ll save that for another post.
On to the point, A. D. is impressive. I’ll let that sink in for a second. You have to understand that I am a very, very harsh critic of “Christian Entertainment” (scare quotes intended). I can often sense the spirit and the prayerfulness that went into a project, but am so incredibly underwhelmed by the finished product – or embarrassed. Google the music video of Carmen’s Satan Bite the Dust sometime.
The production value of A. D. is impeccable. It is made for TV, which I think works in its favor, because the audience isn’t expecting Micheal Bay-like explosions. But the set design flows seamlessly into CGI enhancement – transporting the viewer to 1st Century Jerusalem.
The greatest special effect moment is in the appearance of an angel. It’s certainly artistic license to show an angelic being through the eyes of the producers. You may or may not agree with it, but there is a clear and consistent theme in scripture of humans responding in fear at the sight of angelic beings. So I grant it to them to show it this way.
***END OF SPOILER ALERT***
The acting is remarkable and Kirk Cameron doesn’t appear once. Oops! I guess I gave that one away, too.
While the production does take liberties in the character development of Pilot and Caiaphas – both apparently had very strong-willed and vocal wives who influenced their leadership – it doesn’t seem to overstep, at least in the first episode. Rather, the character development does what it’s supposed to, further draw the viewer into the narrative.
Just Tell the Story
Other than that, the first episode endeavored to “just tell the story” and I can’t say how impressed I am to see that. The story of scripture is so powerful itself. If we would just tell the story! I remember sitting in John Lindsey’s teaching on the rise and reign of King David and thinking, “Wow, if they would just put that on screen! Instead of adding what they think would make it dramatic.”
The last thing I’ll say is that this production blessed me. I don’t know how that sounds to you, and it could just be because the first episode depicts the crucifixion and resurrection. Every time I witness a retelling of it, I’m pulled emotionally and moved in my spirit. But I’m trying to separate that in my mind and be discerning. It is masterful story telling that is faithful to the text.
The episode I saw will air on Easter Sunday night and my encouragement is that it would be a great way to end the day! Lifegroups should consider gathering together and watching it.