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holy landDavid and Goliath

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

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David and Goliath on IMDb

Plot Overview

In ancient Israel the aging prophet Samuel (Hilton Edwards) proclaims that Yahweh will choose him a new king to replace the enthroned King Saul (Orson Welles) … other than one of Saul's sons. This doesn't set well with the king. Samuel travels to Bethlehem where he anoints the shepherd David (Ivo Payer) telling him to keep it a secret, and then he sends him to Jerusalem to seek his destiny. There David becomes a rabble-rouser attracting the attention of King Saul who invites him to his court to explain himself.

David swears fealty to the king and becomes his court musician and wise advisor. Abner (Massimo Serato) Captain of Saul's hosts conspires with Merab (Eleonore Rossi Drago) daughter of Saul to have the upstart David ambushed on a diplomatic mission to Asrod (Furio Meniconi) King of the Philistines. King Asrod retains the giant Goliath (Kronos) of Gath to do it for the promise of gold and “the most beautiful girls in Philistia.” They dance to entice him. Once their frolicking becomes a lap dance and the near­sighted giant can view the goods, he's all in.

boy w/slingDavid is handy with a slingshot in order to protect his flock from wild beasts. He can hit a tree square on at a distance, but a moving target on a field of battle might be a different story. Goliath for his part can't seem to spear a shifting David. David distracts the visually impaired giant further by getting him to look up at three circling buzzards, interfering with his double vision. The giant stands still to bring his target(s) into focus, which makes him a sitting duck.


The movie opens with David a strapping young man tending his father's flock. Any question of how those sheep might look to him out on the hill is quickly allayed by a visit from Egla (Simonetta Simeoni) a lovely Jewish maiden. The starry-eyed couple whiles away the whole day, seeking shelter in a cave when it rains. When she must part, she worries about the rain preventing him from coming to see her. “I shall be with­out thee for so long,” she laments. David replies with the sweet nothing, “I would run to thee even were it to be another flood.” He was referring to the flood of Noah and probably had in mind some­thing along the lines of, “Noah's Wife Lived a Wonderful Life” by The Hoosier Hot­shots, 1940: “'Cause Noah had to stay home.” There was no place for the ark's builder to go out carousing to, he wasn't into smooching any cow or necking with a giraffe, and his nuptial honey­moon lasted forty nights. Awesome!

traderDavid's first order of business when he gets to Jerusalem is to purchase two Moabite slaves from a trader and immediately set them free. That stirs up contro­versy, of course, and Bob Dylan's words from “Blowing in the Wind” come to mind asking, “How many years can a people exist/ Before they're allowed to be free?” Well, that depends on the kind of slaves.

After the ark made landfall, its eight passengers settled in their enclave. (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth over­spread.” As yet there were no inns for Noah to visit, so he had to brew his own hooch. His wife couldn't abide a drunken Noah, so she went to visit her youngest son Ham over yonder. Being a respectful woman of God, she would have told her son to leave Noah be for the present, which unfortunately piqued his curiosity and he went over to his father Noah's tent. The Bible picks up the story.

(Gen. 9:20-23) “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” This was not a good move on Ham's part, not by (Prov. 30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Here his eye represents his whole person who mocked his father and disobeyed his mother. The ravens of the valley are the raven (Gen. 8:7) a traveling bird that Noah sent forth from the ark to scope out a drained land. The young eagles are a bird with a long gestation period representing a long time. Ham's line will be segregated from the rest of humanity (eye plucked out) and wasted over a long period of time.

Indeed, that is how Noah called it, (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Canaan being Ham's youngest son represents a continuing generational curse, and Japheth being enlarged means the slavery will be spread out far and wide. From Shem come the Semites, of course. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Generally, from the Middle East in the land of Shinar (modern-day Iraq, where Babel was), Japheth's descendants went north toward Europe and Asia, Ham's went toward Africa, and Shem's remained in the Middle East” (183). Hodge reiterates that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62).

Eventually Christ on the way to his crucifixion needed someone to help him carry the cross, so (Matt. 27:32) “as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” Cyrene a city of northern Africa (modern day Iran) was where dwelt descendants of Ham, one of whom was compelled to involuntary servitude by the Romans, descendants of Japheth, to bear the cross of Christ a Semite. We are fortunate this servitude lasted to there and then.

The Israelites of old also had an indentured servitude where an Israelite was only allowed to be in bondage to another Israelite for six years and in the seventh he was to be set free. He was not to be ruled over “with rigour” (Lev. 25:43). The two slaves that David freed were Moabites, how­ever, with whom Israel was at war. They were to serve with rigor until they were worked to death. Bummer.

Fortunately for them, David's great grandmother was Ruth a Moabite woman who'd married Boaz—see Ruth 4:21-22—in David's line. David was just liberating two of his distant kin, not every slave in the market. One looked to be about his father's age and the other his grandfather's, showing a generational count­down to David. This would be of great concern to Saul of the tribe of Benjamin, because the kingly line was to be from the tribe of Judah. But Judah's son Pharez was a bastard and a bastard was not permitted into the congregation of the Lord until the tenth generation. The tenth generation would be—see Ruth 4:18-22—David. Look out, Saul. This is not explained in the movie but could be a sensitive issue to Jews in the know, like savvy Abner.

Production Values

Samuel commends David saying, “it is written, Far better a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king.” This is actually from David's later son Solomon's old age memoir, (Eccl. 4:13-14) “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.” This cryptic passage refers to language development, good words falling into disfavor—poor use—over time while the dominant ones take on a dirty patina. Take this example from K.j.a. Wishnia of “crude language. Spray painted on the wall behind them is a most peculiar graffito expressing a dislike for the people of a single West African country: NIGERS OUT. I wonder how they feel about Mali” (65–6). Niger is Latin for black, which we hear rarely, referring to a country or a river or to a prophet or teacher in (Acts 13:1) “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger—” A perfectly good word though seldom heard, its derivative nigger is heard all too often, especially in prison talk. Or take, “Whatdaya mean, ‘fuck’?” ¶“Fuck. Push. Thrust. Copulate. From Middle English fucken, probably akin to the Dutch fokken and the Swedish fock” (ibid. 209). We hear fucken pretty much not at all, unless someone slips it in as a prefix in fucken-A. But we hear fuck all too often, especially in prison talk.

Modern movies are incorrigible in their use of n-words and f-words, but this “David and Goliath” feature uses a clean dialect in a cross between Shakes­peare and the King James Bible, where much of its vocabulary though dated, is clean to the extreme. And why shouldn't it be? Or why, for that matter, must our sacred Bible dialect be deprived of its distinc­tive­ness by modernized translations? As George P. Marsh offers in an 1859 graduate lecture on the English Bible, “no man thinks of conforming to a standard that, because it is too common, can hardly be other than unclean” (449).

” (1960) was directed by Ferdinando Baldi and Richard Pottier, and for his own scenes by Orson Welles. It stars Orson Welles, Ivica Pajer, and Eleonora Rossi Drago. Welles is a consummate professional who plays a peripheral character, compared to which the rest of the acting is flat. Massimo Serato as Abner does a passable job as a military man involved in intrigue. The women are babes, all of them, and the Philistine hotties wore mini-skirts. You've heard of acting parts with only one line; well, Kronos the giant has only one word, a grunt, but I'd hate to meet him in a dark alley. Except for Hilton Edwards playing Samuel and Welles King Saul, all the other (Italian) actors were dubbed.

This movie is not rated, but a bloody sword cut and a tripping horse were cut from my copy. In fact eighteen minutes were cut from its US release to give it a runtime of 1 hr. 35 min. The plot is easy enough to follow though it used a lot of creative editing tweaking the Bible story on which it was based. As a movie it doesn't suffer from the loss but biblical purists would cringe. The sets are nicely decorated. The score is appropriate.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This cheesy but entertaining sword-and-sandals movie achieves a limited goal of mindless adventure with a steamy but chaste sexuality. If your parents limit your screen time to educational movies, you can probably get away with this one as long as they don't watch too much of it. People see what they want to see, and this is a classic story regardless of serious editing. The way I figure it is we don't accurately remember stories from the Bible anyway, so why not have some fun with a movie?

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Some moments of suspense. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

Marsh, George P. “Formation of our English sacred dialect.”
       Lectures on the English Language. London: John Murray, 1863. Print.
       ——available to read or download at www.bibles.n7nz.org.

Wishnia, K.j.a. Red House. Copyright © 2001 K.j.a. Wishnia. New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2001. Print.