David and Bathsheba (1951)

David and Bathsheba (1951)

Director: Henry King
Starring: Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, Raymond Massey

King David falls in love with Bathsheba the wife of his soldier Uriah the Hittite, but as he piles on his sins, he faces God's wrath.

This one of the better Biblical epics. Usually they take too much liberty with the canon for the sake of filmmaking and don't succeed in telling a better story in the exchange. Sometimes, though, a telling comes along that presents an interesting interpretation to expand on the rather sparse narrative of the Bible itself. This is one such example. The stage is set for David and Bathsheba's transgression by painting him as a king highly acclaimed but not widely loved, distant from his wives (downright belligerent with his spiteful first wife), estranged from his sons and even from God. Uriah is presented as an eager and loyal soldier but an unloving husband. Add in a backstory of Bathsheba admiring David from afar for years and their coming together seems only natural. There are some surprisingly subversive elements, from David's proto-feminist attitudes on women to his questioning God's justice. There are strong performances by Gregory Peck as King David, Susan Hayward as Bathsheba and Raymond Massey as Nathan. I recommend it, so give it a watch.

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