Samson and Delilah (1949)

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    Judges 13–16 (KJV and hereafter) recounted the divinely sanctioned rise and spectacular demise of the most famous judge of the Old Testament – Samson, the Danite. This Hebrew Hercules was the real Incredible Hulk who became a veritable Che Guevara of the Sinai Peninsula, warring against the Philistines when cheated out of a riddle prize (Judg. 14:12–18) and Philistine bride (Judg. 14:20–15:1–2). His name has entered the English language as a synonym for phenomenal physical strength, especially when the spirit of the Lord came upon him: he easily tore apart a young lion barehanded (Judg. 14:5–6), slayed thirty Ashkelon men for their garments (Judg. 14:19) and slaughtered a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (Judg. 15:15). Even when not acting as God’s spirit-filled weapon, Samson easily broke his bonds (Judg. 16:7–9, 11–12, 13–14), captured three hundred foxes and attached firebrands between their tied tales (Judg. 15:4), slaughtered Philistines ‘hip and thigh’ (Judg. 15:8), and carried far uphill the door, posts and bar of the Gaza gates straight after a night of lovemaking (Judg. 16:3). He was a comical, trickster-figure of mythological proportions that challenged DeMille creatively to balance the mundane with the hyperbolic without causing audience incredulity, yet still jibe with scripture, theological trajectories and twentieth-century cultural expectations. DeMille was a master at this. ‘For all its hokeyness Samson and Delilah is a brilliant film’ (Exum 1996:13) and ‘a masterpiece of biblical film-making (it gets better after repeated viewings); the 1949 film sparkles in spite of its age, with memorable dialogue and impressive overacting’ (Exum 2002: 255).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBible and Cinema
    Subtitle of host publicationFifty Key Films
    EditorsAdele Reinhartz
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Electronic)9781136184000
    ISBN (Print)9780415677196, 9780415677202
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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