The world’s oldest story – the origins of Mankind, as told in the Book of Genesis – is put upon the screen by director John Huston and producer Dino De Laurentiis with consummate skill, taste and reverence.
Christopher Fry, who wrote the screenplay with the assistance of Biblical scholars and religious consultants, has fashioned a straightforward, sensitive and dramatic telling, through dialog and narration, of the first 22 chapters of Genesis.
A lavish, but always tasteful production – assaults and rewards the eye and ear with awe-inspiring realism.
Huston’s rich voice functions in narration, and he also plays Noah with heart-warming humility, compassion and humor.
The seduction of Eve by the serpent, the latter well represented by a man reclining in a tree, cues a sudden shift of mood and pace. Richard Harris plays the jealous and remorseful Cain with a sure feeling, while Franco Nero’s Abel conveys in very brief footage the image of a sensitive, obedient young man whose murder provoked a supreme outrage.
The 45-minute sequence devoted to Noah and the Flood is, in itself, a triumph in filmmaking. It plays dramatically and fluidly, and belies monumental logistics of production. Huston’s Noah is, again, perfect casting.
Stephen Boyd then emerges as Nimrod, the proud king, whose egocentric monument became the Tower of Babel where the languages of his people suddenly were changed. The remainder of the film is devoted to Abraham, played with depth by George C. Scott. Ava Gardner is very good as the barren Sarah who, to give her husband a male heir, urges him to conceive with her servant, Zoe Sallis.
1966: Nomination: Best Original Music Score