Film “Judith” Instead of “Noah”

Alex Knapp figures the big-budget movie adaptation of the Noah story will disappoint due to the straightforwardness and unsustainability of the plot, and I’m inclined to agree.  The myth of Noah wouldn’t be the first biblical narrative I’d give movie treatment. That honor would go to the Book of Judith.

For those unfamiliar with the deuterocanonical book, it tells the story of Judith, a God-fearing widow of a besieged city who upbraids her fellow residents for their failure to trust in God and for putting their God to the test.  Her piety is pretty hardcore given that the city’s water supplies have been cut off and children are collapsing in the streets, consumed by thirst.  However, she doesn’t simply admonish; she goes out into the enemy camp, charms the enemy general Holofernes and gains his trust, and, when he’s intoxicated, decapitates him with two swipes of a sword, saving her city.  Good times.

With Judith, you have a fairly simple plot with lots of potential for talented filmmakers.  You’ve got political intrigue, war, the panic in a city struck by siege and famine, religious conflicts, the deification of a king, deception, and, best of all, the chance for dramatic, cutting exchanges between Judith and her people and between her and Holofernes.  I’d love to see the actors playing these two figures bring to light the unique ways in which their respective religions inform and guide their actions. Religion tends to get superficial treatment in movies, but there’s potential here to take a serious look at religious motivation and consequence.

I can’t decide whether I’d prefer to see the biblical tale itself filmed or a movie re-imagining and re-setting of the basic story, so why not both?  Judith would make a great big screen heroine in any case.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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5 Responses

  1. Brandon says:

    It really would make a good cinematic story; it kind of makes me sad that no one seems to have done it in the Studio Era. The story could bear a full-scale Ten-Commandments-style extravaganza treatment that Hollywood can no longer manage very well, and therefore that we will never see. It’s sad, because Sophia Loren would have made an awesome Judith. (Rather ironically, one of Sophia Loren’s roles was a Jewish woman named ‘Judith’ in a very disappointing movie of the same name, although it had nothing to do with this Judith.

    Apparently there was a famous silent film on the story, though.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      Yes, she would have. I was thinking Monica Bellucci as the lead in our day and age.

      • Brandon says:

        I think you’re right that she would fit, and for some of the same reasons, too; Loren’s swing from piety to allure to steel would be a larger and swifter swing, but Belluci definitely could cover the same kind of change.