In An Open Book, John Huston elucidates on the making of The Bible and most fondly about the animals used during the epic’s only good if not triumphant sequence—Noah and the Ark. His pages bring back the beauty and the challenge of creating a mini-masterpiece within a dud spectacular. Even though Huston wanted Charlie Chaplin to play Noah, and then Alec Guinness, he came to realize that only someone affectionately familiar with the animals, on petting and feeding terms, would do, so he chose himself. Implicit, of course, is ego. Audience-pleasing his mugging is, though I much prefer his similar kind of wink in The Cardinal. No one who has seen this movie on the big screen will forget the animals-by-two departure from the Ark to a water-soaked paradise—the most primordial moments witnessed in a Huston picture. The Adam & Eve portion is not only enough to set feminists howling but also evidence that God censors the full Monty; the Cain & Abel sequence mind-bogglingly lacking of biological reproductive sense; the Sodom & Gomorrah segment Max Factor gone gay adult book store camp; the Tower of Babel sequence visually a knockout but halted too quickly to have intended impact; and the Abraham & Sarah chapter sedated barbaric soap with a climax that may still anger those who, believing the contents of the great tome to be implausible, see sadism being used to prove allegiance. Huston wrote that he doesn't “profess any beliefs in an orthodox sense...the mystery of life is too great, too wide, too deep, to do more than wonder at. Anything further would be an impertinence.” As an artist he gave respect to material he understood was conceived as myth and legend; as moviemaker he was done in by its inherent irrationality. Oscar-nominated for best original musical score (Toshiro Mayuzumi). Filmed in Dimension 150, a glorified TODD AO.
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Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.