Tag Archives | Jove’s Witnesses

Middelboe Chronicles, Part 35: Elijah

The theme of unreasonable rulers continues with Elijah (“Testament: The Bible in Animation,” 1996). The music is from Mendelssohn’s Elijah Oratorio.

The irony of the Jehovah/Ba’al rivalry is that they appear, from most of the historical evidence, to have originally been the same god under different names, like Jupiter and Zeus, or Odin and Woden.

In popular culture, the name “Jezebel” is most associated with Frankie Laine’s song:

Back in the 1970s in San Diego, my grandmother once shared a cab with Frankie Laine. She only vaguely knew who he was, and he of course had no idea that this sweet little old lady was herself “a devil … born / without a pair of horns.” He gave her free tickets to his show, but she didn’t go. (It didn’t occur to her to give the tickets to, say, her daughter and grandson.)


Middelboe Chronicles, Part 33: Moses

As with yesterday’s The Magic Paintbrush, so with today’s Moses (“Testament: The Bible in Animation,” 1996), a cruel and unreasonable ruler receives a magical comeuppance:

I mentioned last week that Ben Kingsley had played Potiphar. He has also played Moses. In this clip, Moses has dragged the Israelites to a concert by Hotblack Desiato’s Disaster Area but they are not as into it as he is:


Middelboe Chronicles, Part 26: Joseph

From one Biblical captive and interpreter of kings’ dreams to another, we pass from Daniel to Joseph (“Testament: The Bible in Animation,” 1996):

From a libertarian economic standpoint, there’s something a bit dodgy about Joseph’s story: “A famine is coming, Sire! We must institute central economic planning!” [seven years later] “Oh look, we have a famine.”

Joseph’s story is also a version of the Oedipus / Samarra paradox: what the brothers do to prevent the prophecy from coming true is exactly what leads to the fulfillment of the prophecy.

And while we’re on the subject of Joseph, it turns out that the entire film of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version, with nearly every song in a different musical genre (and with Dutch subtitles, because je kunt nooit teveel Nederlands hebben, heb ik gelijk?) is online:

I’m particularly fond of the performances of Jeff Blumenkrantz and Maria Friedman in this.

And as a bonus, here’s a clip of Ben Kingsley as Potiphar in yet another version of Joseph:

The downside of casting Ben Kingsley as Potiphar is that you don’t really remember any of the other characters. But the positive side is – Ben Kingsley!


Middelboe Chronicles, Part 25: Daniel

More enchanted lions – this time, enchanted on behalf of the Biblical prophet Daniel (“Testament: The Bible in Animation,” 1996). This one has an interesting modern-day framing device that poses questions about the desirability and limits of Jewish assimilation into Gentile society:

This animated version also ends with Daniel pleading for clemency toward those who had accused him, and for “mercy and forgiveness for all, and deliverance for all people everywhere” – though whether this plea is granted or refused goes unmentioned. By contrast, in the original Biblical story, “the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces” – and Daniel raises not a peep of protest.

Incidentally, while I’ve been calling this Russian-Welsh series of animated versions of classic stories the “Middelboe Chronicles,” from the involvement of Penélope Middelboe as one of the main people behind the series, I notice that her name is often paired with that of Martin Lamb, to an extent that suggests that these should really be called the “Lamb-Middelboe Chronicles.”

However, it’s too late to change it now; for the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.


Middelboe Chronicles, Part 15: David and Saul

From Carmen to another (rather different) tale of love turned through jealousy to murderous enmity: the tale of David and Saul (“Testament: The Bible in Animation,” 1996). Interesting side note: Paul McGann provided the voice of David for this story, in the same year that he played the Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who tv-movie.

Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that the story of David and Saul is how Kylo Ren sees his own experience with his Uncle Luke:


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