Cue the “flood” jokes: this weekend, despite debate over how religious audiences would (or should) feel about it, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah pulled into the top slot at the box office, taking home $44 million. So, if a deluge of Bible-based movies follow, that wouldn’t exactly be surprising.
Some of the most recognizable Biblical names — from Noah and Moses to Joseph and his dreamcoat — have already had their moment in the spotlight, but here are our suggestions for a few other Old Testament stories that might make great movies:
Cain and Abel, by the Coen Brothers: In Genesis 4, Adam and Eve’s kids Cain and Abel take a bad turn. The elder brother, Cain, makes a disappointing sacrifice to God and — angry that he’s not in as much favor as his younger sibling — ends up killing Abel. Though Cain makes a case that he’s not his brother’s keeper, he ends up cast off of his land, destined to wander. The Coen Brothers have already given a Bible tale a go — A Serious Man drew comparisons to the Book of Job — but there are few other stories as depressing and mysterious (read: perfect for them) as this one.
Sodom and Gomorrah, by Quentin Tarantino: In Tarantino’s version of the story — in which Lot and his family escape the destruction of those cities only to have Lot’s wife turned into salt and Lot’s daughters seduce him so they can incestuously continue their family line — the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah would be a total bloodbath. (Not that it isn’t already.)
Jacob’s Wedding, by Judd Apatow: In Genesis 29, Jacob falls for Rachel and agrees to work for her father for seven years in exchange for her hand — but, when the time comes up, her father has her less comely sister, Leah, fill in. It’s dark on their wedding night, so it’s not till the morning that Jacob sees that he married Leah instead of Rachel. Jacob ends up working another seven years so he can be married to them both. The story doesn’t exactly scream comedy, but the two women end up more or less happy once they have kids, and there’s nothing like a mistaken-identity marriage plot to make a good, raunchy rom-com.
Wes Craven’s Witch of Endor, starring Angelina Jolie: In 1 Samuel 28, Saul consults with a woman who claims she can speak with the dead, even though he himself had all the mediums kicked out of the region. When she summons the ghost of Samuel, the ghost tells Saul that by the next day he’ll be dead, too. Saul ends up killing himself. The witch, while she’s been subject to lots of cultural interpretations, doesn’t have much of a back story — which is perfect for a prequel-style interpretation.
The Purim story, starring Jennifer Lawrence: Few Old Testament stories have as strong a female lead as the Book of Esther, the story marked by the Jewish holiday of Purim, which was celebrated earlier this month. King Ahasuerus, thinks he’s going to replace his headstrong wife with a pliable young lady — but instead he winds up with Esther. When the king’s adviser hatches a plan to kill the Jews in the kingdom, Esther reveals that she herself is Jewish and steps in to save her people.