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June 7, 2009

Newsbites: The religious history edition!

agora-hypatia2.jpg
This is a few weeks overdue, but better late than never, right?

1. Benedict Fitzgerald's lawsuit against Mel Gibson and several film companies has come to an end, now that the two sides have reached a settlement, the details of which have not been disclosed. Fitzgerald had sued Gibson for allegedly underpaying him for his work on the screenplay for The Passion of the Christ (2004). -- Associated Press

2. Josh Brolin is thinking of producing a movie about John Brown, an abolitionist who killed several Southern slave-owners and tried to start a slave rebellion in the years leading up to the American Civil War; he was regarded by Abraham Lincoln and others as a "misguided fanatic" and he remains a controversial figure to this day. -- ComingSoon.net

3. Alejandro Amenábar's Agora premiered at Cannes a few weeks ago, and various critics, rounded up by The Daily's David Hudson, have discussed how the film casts certain fourth-century Christians, including St. Cyril of Alexandria, in a very negative light. The filmmakers themselves have talked about how their film portrays the philosopher Hypatia (played by Rachel Weisz, pictured above) as a martyr for science, but at least one observer has said that this is a distortion of the historical record. -- The Daily, Associated Press, Tim O'Neill

4. Another film that premiered at Cannes last month was Tsar, which concerns a Becket-like clash of wills between Ivan the Terrible and St. Philip of Moscow in the mid-16th century. The Daily has rounded up reviews of that film, too -- and it notes that Oleg Yankovsky, the actor who played St. Philip, died of cancer only a few days after the film's premiere; he was 65. The film is directed by Pavel Lungin, who previously directed Ostrov (2006), aka The Island, an acclaimed film about Russian Orthodox monks. -- The Daily, Variety (x2)

5. Magic Lantern Entertainment is working on Noah's Ark, the follow-up to Promenade Entertainment's computer-animated version of The Ten Commandments (2007) -- and the new film, which has sometimes gone by the title The Flood, is now going to be a "stereoscopic 3-D toon . . . intended for theatrical release." The company's website notes that it is working with Promenade on a version of David and Goliath, as well. -- Variety

6. Ashutosh Gowarikar, director of such Bollywood hits as Lagaan (2001) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008), has been tapped to direct Buddha, a biopic written by David S. Ward (The Sting, Sleepless in Seattle). In the past, it was said the film would cost $120 million, but now it has a reported budget of $35 million. -- Variety

Related Tags: agora, buddha, david and goliath, john brown, noah's ark, passion of the christ, tsar

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