Stage-trained Swedish actress Pernilla August (nee Wallgren) is the latest heir to the tradition of radiant actresses (i. e., Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Eva Dahlbeck and Harriet Andersson) immortali...
As many different versions of The Bible there are as a holy text, there are even more versions as TV movies and miniseries. Oddly enough, they all look exactly the same: arid, sun-baked landscapes, costume beards, swords and spears left over from a fraternity toga party, a kneejerk disavowal of getting inside these character’s heads —especially Jesus, lest he appear “too human.” First, there was Franco Zeffirelli’s seminal eight-hour opus Jesus of Nazareth in 1978, which probably remains the best of the lot, probably because it’s the only one truly interested in exploring spiritual ideas beyond the level of a rote Sunday school lessen. Over the years there have been many others like In the Beginning (2000) and Noah’s Ark (1999), with Jon Voight as a wisecracking Noah and F. Murray Abraham as a gleefuly amoral Lot (even though Lot doesn’t appear in Genesis until the stories of Abraham set centuries later, but no matter). Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999) starred Christian Bale as Christ and Pernilla August (Anakin Skywalker’s enslaved mom in The Phantom Menace) as the Virgin herself. Charlton Heston’s The Bible (1997) saw the actor who once boomed “Let my people go!” in The Ten Commandments visit the Holy Land himself and explore the historical basis for some of the Bible’s stories. Even Jesus’ betrayer got the small-screen treatment in 2004’s Judas. Perhaps the best—and certainly most original — TV Bible adaptation since Jesus of Nazareth was The Miracle Maker (2000), a Claymation version of the Gospels, with Jesus voiced by Ralph Fiennes. That version actually teased out the full-bodied emotion of the story in a way that many of these flesh-and-blood versions often fail to do.
It’s been a few years since the marketplace was that oversaturated with the Bible on TV. Now, History is trying to correct that with their ten-hour Mark Burnett/Roma Downey-produced take: The Bible. The Survivor producer has promised a complete Genesis to Revelations arc for his series, but other than the sheer completest factor, and an excitable Hans Zimmer score to build urgency, there doesn’t seem to be that much different in this version than in all the other small-screen takes. All the male actors are wearing their fake, Fellini-esque eyebrows and beards, gravel-voiced actors deliver dialogue like “I will make them bow!”, and chroma-keyed backdrops and twinkly special effects accompany moments like the parting of the Red Sea and Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt. Also, there's your signature bombastic voiceover — in this case courtesy of Keith David. The only thing that seems legitimately new about this interpretation are the ninja angels who kung fu chop their way through the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah in slow-motion.
The reviews haven’t been kind. Glenn Garvin of The Miami Herald says, “With the pace of a music video, the characterizations of a comic book and the political-correctness quotient of a Berkeley vegetarian commune this production makes Cecil B. DeMille look like a sober theologian.” And yet audiences seem to be loving it. It debuted March 3 to an average of 14.8 million viewers during its two-hour premiere, making it the No. 1 cable entertainment telecast of the year.
So, if you are tuning in to The Bible, we’ve got one question for you: why are you watching?
&amp;lt;a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/6954390/"&amp;gt;Why Are You Watching History's 'The Bible'&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Lightworkers Media / Hearst Productions Inc.]
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Portrayed the dizzy, sexually generous nursemaid in Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander"
Had featured role in "Agget", directed by Daniel Bergman (Ingmar's son)
Reteamed with writer-director Bergman for "In the Presence of a Clown"; again played character based on Bergman's mother in this semi-autobiographical film made for Swedish television
Had leading role in the Swedish film "Gossip"
Played Shmi Skywalker, mother of Annakin (the future Darth Vader), in George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace"
Reprised her role as Anna in Liv Ullmann's "Private Confessions", scripted by Bergman
Ingmar Bergman wrote part of Anna (based on his mother) in "Best Intentions" expressly for her; met director Billie August during pre-production; married during a break in filming; miniseries version broadcast as part of PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" in Augu
Worked with directors Yuri Ljubimov ("Feast in the Time of the Plague") and Lennart Hjulstrom ("Master Olof") at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre
Returned to the stage in Royal Dramatic Theatre production of "The Winter's Tale"
Acted in Bergman-directed stage productions of "Hamlet" (1986, as Ophelia) and "A Doll's House" (1989, as Nora) at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre
Cast as Mary in the NBC biblical drama "Mary, Mother of Jesus"
Spent several years working with Swedish Television's theater ensemble
Appeared at Sweden's Gavie Theatre in many plays including August Strindberg's "A Dream Play", directed by Peter Oskarson
Began dabbling in theater at a Stockholm drama school for children at the age of ten (date approximate)
Stage-trained Swedish actress Pernilla August (nee Wallgren) is the latest heir to the tradition of radiant actresses (i. e., Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Eva Dahlbeck and Harriet Andersson) immortalized on screen by Ingmar Bergman. Her first association with the master came playing the nursemaid-mistress of a restaurateur in his feature directing swan song, "Fanny and Alexander" (1982). Subsequently, the attractive brunette portrayed Ophelia in "Hamlet" (1986) and Nora in "A Doll's House" (1989) in Bergman-directed stage productions at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre. Despite his official retirement from directing, Bergman continued providing Scandinavian filmmakers with potent screenplays of a personal nature, writing the part of Anna (based on his mother) in "Best Intentions" (1991) expressly for her and entrusting it to Danish helmsman Bille August. In the role, she displayed a Himalayan emotional range, ripening from a spoiled kittenish 18-year-old to a life-hardened, resolute woman, and won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award as well as the heart of her director. Divorced from screenwriter Klas Ostergren, she married August during a break in filming in 1991.
married in 1991 in Copenhagen; worked together on "Best Intensions" and "Jerusalem"; divorced in 1997
born c. November 1991
married in 1982; divorced
About her nine-month immersion in the role of Anna Bergman for "Best Intentions": "It was filled with so much love, to do this part, and she's so close to me. When we stopped, I was so angry. I was so angry at the family and the Bergman story and the relatives. It was so strange, I didn't even want to talk about it." --Pernilla August to THE NEW YORK TIMES, July 20, 1992