In the Beginning (2000)
Director: Kevin Connor.
Starring: Martin Landau (Abraham), Jacqueline Bisset (Sarah), Bill Campbell (Moses), Eddie Cibrian (Joseph), Fred Weller (Jacob), Alan Bates (Jethro), Steven Berkoff (Potiphar), Geraldine Chaplin (Yocheved), Amanda Donohoe (Zuleika), Christopher Lee (Rameses I), Art Malik (Rameses II), Rachael Stirling (Young Rebeccah), Diana Rigg (Mature Rebeccah), Victor Spinetti (Happatezoah, Pharaoh's Magician), David Threlfall (Aaron).
from creation to Moses
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
God tells Abraham to get himself to a new land. The year is around 2,000 B.C. There is a shortage of water in the area. At night Abraham tells the story of creation: the creation of man, Adam, and woman, Eve; and how Eve tasted of the forbidden tree of knowledge and how the human couple were thrown out of Eden. Cain killed his brother Abel.
Eliezer fights with a man from Lott's group. The latter asks Eliezer where is the land that Abraham promised them. Abraham arrives and Lott quarrels with him. Abraham says that he and Lott are kin and he will not fight with him. But they must separate. God tells Abraham not to be afraid. Abraham asks: "What will you give me, Lord?" God promises Abraham a son. Abraham's wife Sarah tells Abraham to take a concubine. She tells him to lay with her Egyptian servant girl Hagar. Abraham does so. Hagar becomes pregnant and runs afoul of Sarah who tells Abraham that Hagar will no longer obey her. Hagar runs away. God speaks to Hagar to tell her to go back. She will have a son and she shall be called Ishmael, a hunter. He will fight everyman and everyman will fight him. Hagar returns to Abraham and Sarah.
Sarah becomes pregnant. She gives birth to a boy who they call Isaac. Hagar soon feels that Sarah hates her and her son and soon leaves.
God asks Abraham to offer Isaac to Him as an offering. Abraham takes Isaac up in the the mountains. He binds him and starts to plunge his knife into his son. God stops him saying that Abraham's faith is "perfect". Instead, God offers a sheep to slaughter in offering.
Sarah dies. Now Abraham feels that Isaac must have a wife. Eliezer goes to look for a woman. He travels to other villages. In his travels, he asks many women to help him, but all refuse. That is, all except Rebeccah, who offers him and his flock water. Eliezer takes Rebeccah with him to meet Isaac. They both like each other. A wedding soon takes place. Abraham collapses. Ishmael and Isaac meet. Ishmael visits Abraham says that his people need to get another country and the he sees in the future how his people will suffer and be captive. But after the fourth generation, they will return and the Lord will give them the land. Abraham dies.
Isaac is now 60 years old. Rebeccah gives him twins. Jacob is a plain man dwelling in tents. Esau is a cunning hunter, a man of the field. Rebeccah favors Jacob, while Isaac favors Esau. Abraham tells Esau to bring him his favorite savory dish and he will bless Esau. To get the blessing for Jacob, Rebeccah dresses Jacob as Esau, puts an animal hair wrap on his left foreman to imitate the hairy Esau and gives the savory dish that she made herself to Jacob to give to his father. Abraham, thinking that Jacob is Esau, gives him his blessing. When Esau comes for his father's blessing, he learns that he is too late. Now Jacob will be lord over Esau. Esau becomes very angry and says he will kill Jacob.
Rebeccah sends away her son Jacob to the land of her brother Laban. Laban's daughter is named Rachel. She meets Jacob and likes him. And Jacob likes her. But Laban has several sisters and Rachel is not the oldest. Jacob agrees to serve seven years of indentured servitude to Laban to pay the bride price for Rachel. Jacob weds, but the morning after his wedding night he learns that Laban substituted Rachel with Leah. It is too late. Now Jacob and Leah are man and wife. When Rachel finally sees Jacob she says that her father forced her to stay in her room. Jacob is upset, but he wants Rachel so badly that he asks Laban to let him marry Rachel too in return for a total of fourteen years of indentured servitude.
On her death bed Rebeccah asks Esau for his forgiveness He grants it. She says she is being punished by God for she will never see Jacob's face again.
Jacob eventually gets out of his indentured servitude. His father-in-law will now pay cash to him for his expert services with the lambs. Jacob says he will give up the cash in exchange for part of Laban's flock. He even agrees to let Laban choose first and he will take what is left over. But the shyster Laban picks out all the good goats, the ones with smooth goats. Jacob's wife Rachel is very mad at him, but Jacob replies that the spotted goats are actually the better goats. Now it is the sons of Laban that complain about being cheated by Jacob for the man's goats are better than theirs. The brothers ask their father to kill Jacob. So they form a large group of men and chase after Jacob who has left for better pastures. They catch up with Jacob and his people, but Jacob is able to talk to Laban. He asks Laban: "Would you kill your own daughters?" Laban can't do it and so he leaves, much to the disappointment of his sons.
Jacob now goes to meet with Esau and ask him for his forgiveness. Jacob is nervous about meeting with Esau considering what has happened. But upon coming together, Esau embraces Jacob. He also tells Jacob that their father Isaac is dead. And Jacob dwelt in the land of Canaan.
Jacob has many sons, but his favorite is Joseph (even though Jacob denies offering favoritism to Joseph). But the sons are mad at Joseph when their father gives Joseph a coat of many colors. Then to alienate his brothers even further, Joseph says he had a dream in which his brothers bowed down to him. Jacob is not pleased with the dream.
Joseph meets with his brothers while they are at their camp. The brothers tell him that the well is dry. Joseph looks in the well and chides his brothers that the well is not dry. Rather it is only blocked by sand from a recent storm. The brothers tell Joseph to dig the well deeper for them. Joseph sees their wicked plan and resists. But the brothers overpower Joseph and throw him down into the well. They then sell Joseph to a passing slaver. When the brothers see their father, they tell him that Joseph was carried away by a wild beast and all they could find of him was his now bloody coat of many colors. Jacob cries.
Joseph is taken to Egypt and to the house of an important Egyptian adviser to the Pharaoh, Potiphar. Potiphar sets a trap for Joseph. He places coins in the shower for Joseph to find. But Joseph passes the test by returning the coins to his master. Potiphar, now trusting Joseph, puts Joseph in charge of his flock. Joseph now answers to no one except Potiphar himself. Joseph improves the flock and greatly increases its number. But there is danger waiting for Joseph. Potiphar's wife desires the handsome Joseph and she befriends him and tells him to come to her. When Joseph comes to her, she kisses him. He starts to kiss her, thinks better of it and runs from her. This infuriates the woman and she tells her husband that Joseph tried to rape her. Joseph is placed in prison.
In prison Joseph meets the Pharaoh's former chief cup bearer who insists to Joseph that he is innocent, a man framed by jealous colleagues. In jail, an inmate asks Joseph: "Where's your God now, eh, Joseph?" But Joseph is not defeated yet. He soon becomes known as an interpreter of dreams. He is placed in charge of the flocks of the head man of the prison. But with his tendency to speak his mind openly, Joseph gets thrown back in jail when he suggests that the prison should treat the prisoners better so they could be used as a labor force for the head man. That kind of talk was seen as seditious.
The cup-bearer is released. He resumes his old job of serving Pharaoh. The Pharaoh has a disturbing dream and no one can interpret it for him. So the cup-bearers suggests Joseph. Joseph listens to the Pharaoh's dream. There were seven fat cattle drinking from a stream. Then seven lean cattle, that were hideous to the eye, appeared and turned on the fat cattle, killing them. Joseph says that the dream means that here will be seven years of plentitude followed by seven years of famine in which Egypt will starve. The crowd gived out a collective gasp. But Joseph then offers a solution to the problem. The Egyptians must build grain stores so the surplus food can be stored to survive the terrible famine years. Joseph is placed in command of the food storage.
When the seven years of famine arrive, Joseph's father and brother are broken. All their wells are dry. They must go to Egypt to asks for grain. Benjamin, the youngest brother, has to remain behind. The brothers go to Egypt and there they meet, unknowingly, Joseph. Joseph tells them that they have the look of spies, but he sells them food and sends them back to their homeland. But they must return with Benjamin. To make sure they do this, Joseph grabs brother Simeon as a hostage. Back home the brothers discover their money in one of the grain sacks. They realize that this is a test of their honesty. So when they return to Egypt with Benjamin, they return the gold to Joseph. Benjamin enjoys his visit to Egypt and uses Joseph's gold cup from which to drink.
The brothers are allowed to return home. But on their journey back, they are stopped and searched. The soldiers find Joseph's cup in their possession. They are brought back to Egypt. The brothers protest their innocence, but Joseph says that he will keep Benjamin as his slave. The brothers protest that this will kill their father, who has already suffered greatly over the loss of another son named Joseph. Seeing their great anxiety, Joseph relents and tells his brothers his true identity. He tells his doubting brothers not to be afraid. He tears up the bill of sale and says he forgives his brothers for what they did to him.
Joseph tells his brothers to bring their people down into Egypt that they may live. When the brothers return they bring their father Isaac. When Joseph sees his father, they embrace. The old man now gives the staff of Abraham to Joseph.
But after two generations, there came a new Pharaoh that knew nothing of Joseph. The Hebrews came to be used as slaves. The Pharaoh's main adviser tells Pharaoh that they must do something to stop the Jews with their growing population from overwhelming the Egyptians. He comes up with the idea of killing the children of the Hebrews. The soldiers start grabbing Hebrew children.
A mother named Yocheved tells the soldiers that she has no other male child than the one they see, a little boy. When the soldiers leave, father takes down a basket hanging from the ceiling in plain sight. There lays their other baby boy. Afraid the soldiers will return they put the baby in a basket and float it down the Nile. Sister Miriam follows the basket down the Nile. She sees Pharaoh's daughter and maid servants fish the basket out of the Nile. The women are delighted to finda baby boy But they don't know of a suitable woman to nurse the child. Miriam shows up at this moment to tell Pharaoh's daughter that she knows a Hebrew woman who would gladly nourish the child. The Pharaoh's daughter agrees, but tells Miriam that the child must be returned to her once it has been weaned. The daughter of Pharaoh tells everyone that the boy's name will be Moses. When Miriam tells her father of her bargain with Pharaoh's daughter, he says it would have been better if Moses had died. It will be all the harder to part from the child when he becomes a young boy.
When Moses becomes a young boy he is taken to the Pharaoh's daughter.
Now we see Moses as a young man. He speaks with his adoptive mother about not being able to forget that he is Hebrew with a mother and father and siblings. Moses proceeds with his duties. One day he sees a supervisor beating a Hebrew slave. Moses strikes the supervisor knocking him out. When others try to raise the man on the ground, they realize he is dead. Someone says that Moses is a murderer and another that he be ceased. Moses jumps on a horse and rides away.
At a well in the desert, two men on horseback arrive to tell the woman there to take her mangy beasts away from the water. The woman objects that her father has paid what was agreed upon to water their flocks. The men demand that she leave now or face the flock being taken away and her being raped. At this moment Moses approaches the men. He has a rock in his hand that he soon crumbles to bits. The two men are intimidated. They tell Zipporah to tell her father that their boss demands a higher price and then they ride off. Moses speaks to Zipporah's father. He admits to him that the crumbling of the stone was a trick.
Moses goes up into the mountains where he sees a burning bush. God speaks to him from the bush. He wants Moses to free the Hebrews from enslavement in Egypt. He further tells Moses that the people will believe because He will provide Moses with various signs. Moses meets his brother Aaron. They go to speak with the new Pharaoh. The Pharaoh demands that Moses show him a sign of the power of his God. Moses gives the staff of Abraham to Aaron, who taps it on the ground and transforms it into a cobra. The people are astonished, but three other men throw their small staffs down and turn them into small snakes. Everyone laughs at Moses and Aaron but then the cobra kills and swallows all three small snakes.
Moses warns Pharaoh that plague and blight will fall down upon the heads of the Egyptians. Later Moses turns the Nile blood red. But Pharaoh's adviser tell him that the color is the result of the fine red sand in the water. But then comes a plague of frogs, then gnats, then biting flies, locusts, hail and lightning, and finally an eclipse of the sun. But the Pharaoh still says "no".
So God lets Moses know of another plan. The first born son , including that of the Pharaoh, will be killed in the night. The Jews are to mark their houses so that God will pass over the Jewish houses. The next morning the Pharaoh's son is dead. He tells his people to let the Hebrews go -- go get them out of his sight.
The Hebrews start leaving Egypt. Pharaoh's adviser tells Pharaoh: "They are fools. They don't see that it's a trap." But Pharaoh is still worried about the power of the Hebrew God.
Pharaoh and his army approach the Jewish refugees. One dissident in the group tells the others to go back to Egypt and pay homage to the Egyptian gods to placate them. Many people start to turn back. Moses stands on a small Mountain top. Around him rise great storm clouds with lots of lightening. A tornado creates a great sand storm. Then the tornado goes into and crosses the Red Sea, thereby opening it to be crossed. The Jews rush across the opening. When Pharaoh's troops follow them, the waters close upon them, drowning them.
Moses sees a sign on a nearby mountain. He goes up the mountain. While he is gone, the dissident tells everyone that Moses's God has deserted him and now Moses himself has deserted the people. The rebel suggests that they should build a golden idol to assuage the gods of Egypt. The people do contribute the gold and a statue of a golden bull is made. While the people appeal to the golden bull, Moses returns with two tablets upon which are written the ten commandments. He shouts to his people: "This is the law of God" He then throws the tablets down in disgust. He puts out the fire and turns over the golden bull. Later Moses gives the staff of Abraham to Joshua, telling him: "I cannot go with you." Joshua accepts the staff.
This is an ambitious mini-series and so nothing is really covered in depth. If you want a quick summary of the Bible from creation to Moses and Joshua this is your movie. And for what it is, it's an o.k. film.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. d.
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