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King David: A Comparison of David’s Affair With Bathsheba in Film and Biblical History, Movie Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 745

Essay

The film King David, starring Richard Gere, attempts to bring to life the story of Israel’s second and perhaps most-loved king – with all his greatness and flaws. Perhaps David’s most notorious flaw was his affair with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite. The movie version is very brief and is quite a bit different than the biblical version. In the biblical version, David sees Bathsheba washing herself upon the roof of her house. He is smitten with her and therefore inquires after her. He is told that she is the wife of Uriah the Hittite. He sends messengers to fetch her and then he sleeps with her. In the movie version, Bathsheba comes of her own accord to visit David. “I’ve seen you once before,” says David. “I know,” she says, then adds, “I am a married woman.”

In the biblical version, the reader does not know what Bathsheba says to David. The movie version, however, gives her a larger role in the story. In the biblical version of the story, David seems to be the seducer, while Bathsheba is the receiver of his affections. She is, perhaps, even a victim. But in the film version, Bathsheba provides a sort of justification of the affair. She complains that her husband never touches her and that she longs for a child that he will not give her. Still, she refuses to sleep with David while her husband is alive. In the biblical version, David does not wait for Uriah to die to sleep with Bathsheba. He simply does as he pleases. It is only after Bathsheba sends word that she is with child that David begins to see Uriah as a problem. In the movie version, David seems to plot against Uriah from the beginning so that he can with Uriah’s wife.

In the biblical version, however, David tries to get Uriah to go home to sleep with Bathsheba, but Uriah refuses, because the other soldiers are battling in tents and he does not thinking going to bed in his own house at such a time is honorable. David even tries to get Uriah drunk so that he will go home, but Uriah sleeps with David’s servants instead.

Finally, David sends word to his general Joab, telling him to send Uriah to the front lines so that he will be killed. David’s plan works. This part is the same in both the biblical version and the film version, but in the biblical version, Bathsheba mourns for her lost husband, while in the film version, Bathsheba attends a party with David and is crowned queen. In both versions, David marries Bathsheba, but in the film version, Bathsheba is clearly pleased with everything, including her husband’s death. In the biblical version there is no evidence of Bathsheba’s happiness.

In both the biblical and the film version of the story, God is displeased with the affair. In both versions, God sends Nathan to tell David about a rich man who takes a poor man’s lamb to serve to his guests, despite the fact that the rich man has many lambs to choose from and the poor man only has one. David, seeing the injustice of the act, declares that the rich man ought to be put to death. Nathan then informs him that the man is his. David repents, but God punishes him by letting the first child born to him by Bathsheba die. In the film version, David pleads with Nathan and God to do anything to him but to let him keep Bathsheba. But in the biblical version this does not happen. Instead, David pleads for the life of his child, but God does not grant his request.

The message the film seems to send about David’s affair with Bathsheba is that the mistake was made by humans who used reasoning that is common to average people. Bathsheba participates because she wants a child. David participates in it because he has fallen in love with Bathsheba. The movie does make the story easier to understand, because it offers explanations for why the characters in the story behave the way they do – but it also clouds the story with details that are sometimes inaccurate. Bathsheba’s prominent role and the insinuation that she has a great deal of power, for instance, are probably quite wrong, as Israel had emerged from a patriarchal society (Gere, Woodward and Krige).

Works Cited

King David. Dir. Bruce Beresford. Perf. Richard Gere, Edward Woodward and Alice Krige. Paramount Pictures. 1985.

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