Along with its obvious echoes of many biblical films, JACOB by Peter Hall, in accordance with the spirit of its two predecessors in the 1990s international productions, takes on an austere form. Simultanously, it can boast emotional resonance of a biblical story, its characters bring to mind people of our times with their desires, their fears, their constant quests for better world, their doubts blending with confidence. Meanwhile, JACOB is far from the mode of spectacular Cecil B DeMille who used the biblical source as a clever conceit to frame his plot and grandeur of spectacle but a faithful adaptation of the Bible with... surprisingly...only few liberties taken. Therefore, being a heartfelt and accurate adaptation, it is a pleasant Bible lesson on screen for young and elderly viewers alike. Yes, it is the film which, actually, depicts the life of Jacob, also called Israel (the one who fought with God and won) in a very linear but convincing manner skipping the spirit of preaching but, rather, adapting the spirit of identification with the viewer. Among a lot of merits of the film, one could name a few like great locations that evoke the Biblical atmosphere of the story, the music score as an effect of useful collaboration of wonderful Ennio Morricone and Monsignor Marco Frisina (the mainstays of these films), clever script somehow adapted to the needs of modern audiences (lacking the pompous, unrealistic utterances). To that point, however, many of the Biblical films may be likened. But the depiction of many important moments from the life of our protagonist...indeed, the protagonist who makes the whole film and the story vibrant and realistic, corresponds vitally to modern times. Jacob, portrayed memorably in the revelatory performance by Mathew Modine, is a character who undergoes development. More to say, he is a wayfarer no less than Abraham, no less than Moses, a typical Biblical hero who starts from nothing and has to rely on God, has to place all his trust in the supreme power of his everlasting presence, ever-present company and support. In a beautiful scene that has, in a way, become a symbol of Jacob's life, he sees the ladder to paradise (famous Jacob's ladder used in many contexts, including tourism in Wales) and sets on a journey unknown, a journey that requires confidence and purity of heart. Quite soon, as he leaves or rather flees from his home, having actually cheated his brother Esau played by another milestone actor, Sean Bean), he is showed to lose everything and arrive at his uncle Laban's (Giancarlo Giannini) with a stick as a wanderer of the desert. There, he has to win his respect and aims at being granted one of his daughters for a wife. Laban has two daughters but Jacob is particularly taken with pretty Rachel (Lara Flynn Boyle), falls in love with her girlish charm. One cannot go without the other, though... No wonder our protagonist will have famous 12 sons. There, a love story begins, love that will need lots of sacrifices... Played emotionally by Lara Flynn Boyle, Rachel is a manifestation or rather resemblance of highly positive women from the Bible. Just to spoil one thing, she gives birth to two of Jacob's most beloved boys: Joseph and Benjamin. Long is their way but, as it usually happens when a human being trusts in God, all must end well. The emotional resonance of the entire story and the dramatic tensions are brilliantly intensified by their variety displayed simultaneously within the story and by the performers, all those versatile, sometimes contrasting feelings that are not vague nor dated whatsoever for us today: jealousy, fear, favoritism, disappointment, loyalty, deception, idolatry, patience, faithfulness, exploitation, hatred, reconciliation, punishment and redemption (one could name endlessly). All of them somehow blend in a unique story. The supporting cast give fine performances from Sean Bean as Jacob's brother Esau (he is unforgettable in the famous biblical moment of being granted pottage in exchange of giving up the right of inheritance as the first born) to Irene Papas as his mother, Rebekkah. A note must be made of Joss Ackland as old Isaac, the father of Jacob who gives him the blessing that, initially, Esau had deserved. That is actually the moment which makes the two brothers enemies, symbolic 'successors' of Caine and Abel. Not entirely, though. A chance for forgiveness will be granted to them. There are some funny touches of the script, too. For instance, when Jacob comes to Laban with no dowry, he presents himself as a man having been robbed. Mr Giannini says a hilarious utterance: "We live in lawless times" (consider the fact the story takes place almost 4,000 years ago). Other moments of relief from the learned and serious source are the scenes of Jacob and Rachel flirting, one could say, like many today's teenagers. An interesting drama highly recommended! A humane story! The Bible being read by means of modern technology and powerful visuals! There is some slight piece of Jacob within many of us. In all this distance of time, solid and austere in its communication. 7/10
Biography / Crime / Drama / History
Biography / Crime / Drama / History
In the foreign land of Canaan lives Isaac, son of Abraham, with his clever, strong-willed wife Rebekah and his twin sons Esau and Jacob. The first-born, Esau, is a strong and fearless ...
August 26, 2020