The History Channel garnered record ratings for The Bible: The Epic Miniseries. Reverent and true to the spirit of the book (which the producers remind us about at the beginning of each section of this ten-part miniseries), The Bible offers a kind of Classic Comics Illustrated presentation of many of the most famous sagas present in The Bible. The first five episodes basically deal with events from the Old Testament while the second five concentrate on the chronicle of Jesus. While there are no deeply explored insights into the nature of faith due to the condensed nature of the storytelling, the set is sure to be a hit in Sunday schools around the world with its easy-to-understand plots and characters.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 7 Hr. 20 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case with two leaves
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/02/2013
Narrated by Keith David, the miniseries tells the often heartrending story of the Jewish people struggling eternally to receive and retain God’s promise to them of a promised land. From Abraham’s struggles down through the resurrection of Jesus and the aftermath, the ten-part miniseries covers many of the highlights from the Christian text that one is introduced to during a lifetime: Abraham and Isaac, Sodom and the story of Lot and his wife, Moses and the Pharaoh, Joshua versus Jericho, Samson and Delilah, Samuel and Saul, David’s rise to power and fall from grace, Daniel as a seer for Nebuchadnezzar and later Cyrus. And then, the miniseries’ second half which focuses on the birth of Jesus, His maturation, teachings, and eventual crucifixion leading to the work of His disciples spreading His word.
The Production Rating: 3/5
In keeping with the methods and precepts of modern storytelling, there’s an emphasis on action and battle sequences often in slow motion (the Jewish nation hasn’t survived without the necessity for much bloodshed), and while the fight scenes don’t quite enter Spartacus territory, they’re certainly reminiscent of the many confrontational battle scenes in that series. But there does tend to be a repetitiousness with the combat which makes watching the episodes back-to-back somewhat tedious. Since the stories being told don’t get to stop long for character development (having a narrator manages to ease over that singular lapse), the intense fight sequences do provide forward motion for the individual segments. For those who are dismayed with the truncated nature that many of the great narratives from The Bible like the stories of Moses or Samson are afforded will have to make do with the fondly remembered Cecil B. DeMille versions of many of these stories which do provide much more thorough (if slightly campy) treatments of some of these parables.
The extended five episodes dealing with the life and work of Jesus are undoubtedly the series’ high point as it affords the actors involved time to establish and develop real characterizations all the while covering very familiar territory shown in many previous films about the King of Kings. Diogo Morgado who plays Jesus is thoroughly convincing with his strength and humility in his performance making his journey a commanding one. As his disciples, Darwin Shaw as Peter, Sebastian Knapp as John, and Matthew Gravelle as Thomas are the most memorable of the group. Adrian Schiller as Caiaphas is also a noteworthy presence though Greg Hicks as Pilate is a bit too one-dimensional, and producer Roma Downey has little to do as the older Mary except to stand teary-eyed on the sidelines.
Here are the ten episodes which are contained on four Blu-ray discs in this set:
1 – In the Beginning
2 – Exodus
3 – Homeland
4 – Kingdom
5 – Survival
6 – Hope
7 – Mission
8 – Betrayal
9 – Passion
10 – Courage
Filmed digitally, the series is presented in the widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Generally, the quality is quite sharp and solid though there are occasional soft shots and some unusual milky contrast on occasion for no good reason. Flesh tones look very natural. The image quality is good enough to betray the limited amount of special effects budget the show had to create some of miracles from the Good Book. Black levels can be striking but aren’t always. Each installment has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is very impressive for a television miniseries. While the entire surround soundfield isn’t always constantly engaged, enough is done with it in most episodes to immerse the viewer in the ongoing action (especially the multiple battle scenes). There is quite notable use of the LFE channel on occasion to add heft to the sound quality. Dialogue is always well recorded and has been placed in the center channel though some ADR is noticeable at odd intervals.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
The Bible: Genesis (9:35, HD): Producers Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and Richard Bedser introduce their conception for the series.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
The Cast of The Bible (13:36, HD): Many of the actors playing major roles in the miniseries introduce themselves. At least half of the featurette involves the search for an actor to play Jesus and on-camera interviews with Diogo Morgado.
The Bible: Creation (42:09, HD): An in-depth look at the making of the production with interviews with many key members of the crew (production designer, costumer designer), the three directors who helmed the ten episodes, and production stories during the making.
Scoring The Bible (8:54, HD): Interviews with composer Hans Zimmer and choral soloist Lisa Gerrard as well as footage at an improvisational recording session.
Believing in Miracles (7:59, HD): Various members of the cast and crew speak about what making the production meant to them.
The Bible: Visual Effects (3:41, HD): A progression of shots showing how special effects were woven into the camera footage transforming it into ancient times.
“Mary, Did You Know” Music Video (3:41, HD): Footage from the miniseries is used to visualize the song sung by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna.
An enjoyable if not profound retelling of various Biblical tales, The Bible will be a miniseries much used in Sunday schools and churches for decades to come. The Blu-ray release boasts impressive video and audio transfers and some informative bonus features which show what a labor of love the project was for its producers.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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