The 1966 motion picture, 'The Bible: in the Beginning' took 5 years to complete. In May 1961, Dino De Laurentiis decided to embark on a mission, to turn the entire book of humanity, the Bible (the Old and New Testaments also known as the Good Book) into a film. However Dino would need 40 million pounds to make 'The Bible' which would take 10 hours and 30 minutes to tell the story. Hence Dino decided to scale down in order to finish the project. 

The result: 'The Bible: in the Beginning' which examined only 30 of the 1,300 pages, about halfway through the 22nd chapter of the Book of Genesis (roughly 200 words). Since the filming of 'Passion Play of Bavaria' in 1897, Hollywood had turned to the Bible as a source of screen material. 'The Bible: in the Beginning' became the first film to tell in continuous sequence the story of mankind's beginnings. Critic Bob Thomas acknowledged, "It is very good. It is likely the best epic ever filmed from a Biblical subject."

The total movie costed $12 million to make. Christopher Fry spent 18 months researching and writing the screenplay. Director John Huston spent 2 years (from April 1964) filming 'The Bible: in the Beginning'. Shot on location in Rome, Sardinia, Sicily and north Africa, John Huston also acted, playing the part of Noah and was the narrator in the film. "The way pictures are made here (in the U.S.), the costs, the overheads and the salaries of stars make minutes precious," he explained.

The 7 separate stories to be shown under one film which lasted nearly 3 hours were: 

Story 1. The Creation of the World: "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, 'Let there be light' ~ and there was light! Thus begin the unforgettable adventure of man. The creation of the world out of chaos, the bringing forth of the seeds, the firmament, the living creatures." 

Story 2. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: God created "man from the dust of the Earth and woman from the flesh of the man. Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, an innocent love spoiled by sin." Michael Parks and Ulla Bergryd played Adam and Eve. Ulla remarked, "In the picture, I undressed enough to last me the rest of my life." 

It was understood 'The Bible: in the Beginning' originally casted an Italian brunet to play the part of Eve which "caused an uproar so Ulla Bergryd, a blonde Swedish anthropology student spotted in a Gottenburg art museum, was substituted." It was reported in 1975 Universal loaned Michael Parks at a fee of $100,000 to Dino De Laurentilis and John Huston. In the film, "Parks played Adam in the nude, a novelty in movies of that era." 

Story 3: Cain and Abel (East of Eden): The sons of Adam and Eve. Theirs was the first murder story over jealousy because God preferred Abel over Cain. Richard Harris delivered a powerful portrayal as Cain. 

Story 4: Noah's Ark and the deluge: Though a non-believer, John Huston confessed, "Sometimes I wish I were not an agnostic or an atheist because I have so many things to thank God for." Some 300 wild animals were reportedly trained by Erich Leuzinger to become so tolerant of one another that they would perform before the cameras by walking up the ramp in pairs to board Noah's Ark. 

In February 1965, John Huston told Tom Curren of 'Newspaper Enterprise Association', "It costs $6000 a day to feed the animals. The animals have been eating their heads off since last May (in 1964). We needed them for the Garden of Eden sequence." 

Story 5: The Saga of Abraham (including The Sacrifice of Isaac): Ava Gardner played Sarah, "I've never thought of myself as right for this type of part but John said he had faith that I could do it. Now I am glad I listened to him. Sarah is a wonderful role. She is a selfless woman who gives her maid servant Hagar to her husband when she herself cannot give Abraham a son. Later she is blessed by God and gives birth to a son, at 90. This is one of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible." 

At one stage the then 41-year-old actress played a character aged 104 years old, "My make-up man, Alberto De Rossi, is a genius. I look a century old when he finishes." Between 1959 and 1962, Ava stopped acting, "I had enough money and I just wanted to live for a while. When the bills started piling up, I went back to work." 

Story 6: The Tower of Babel: Stephen Boyd played Nimrod, the King of Babel. The 120-feet man-made tower (which in the book should reach into Heaven) took hundreds of workers over months to build at a cost of $375,000. Some 1,500 Italian extras were hired for the filming. John Huston made known, "The Bible doesn't tell us much about the Tower of Babel. We can be faithful to the most universally accepted interpretations of biblical passages, but we have to fill in the details to make them come alive on the scene."

Story 7: The Fall of Sodom and Gomorrah: Peter O'Toole played the Messenger of God, "the 3 angels who came to destroy the vice, the lust and godlessness of Sodom and Gomorrah."  In one scene, John Huston directed Peter O'Toole to walk slowly through an orgy choreographed by dancer Katherine Dunham. He remembered, "It was really wild with lots of beautiful girls doing the craziest dances." Katherine reportedly took the subject literally.

Peter also told Charles Hamblett of 'News of the World', "You can't top that guy (John Huston). Even when he seems to be lost in deep creative thought, his reactions are as sharp as a knife. Once, just for a giggle, I kept on smoking a cigaret during camera rehearsals while playing God. We were on top of a mountain and John was huddled in deep thought working out lighting problems. At last everything was ready. 'Okay, God,' John said. 'Start walking'. 'Is it all right to smoke?' I asked waving my cigaret. 'Sure, kid', John replied. 'Find yourself a pipe.'"

'The Bible: in the Beginning' was hailed as the "finest Biblical film ever made." John Huston made the observation, "Many Biblical films … most scripts took a small incident from the book and built it into a fictional plot. Fry's script, on the other hand, sticks very close to the Bible itself, from the creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and through the story of Abraham. I made 'The Bible' because I felt it could be a picture of rare beauty and fascination. I did not set out to make a spectacle. Its size and grandeur are only in keeping with the profoundly simple text of the Book of Genesis. All of us approached our task with humility. What you will see on the screen is our best effort – an act of faith."

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