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The Red Tent Miniseries Review based on a book by Anita Diamant

If anyone has ever take a chance to look at my blog, you would have noticed a few changes, one. I am writing articles again, two-changed the main header to over all subjects of books from my past and today. And one I am writing a article review on not just a book but a movie miniseries based off a book.

Okay, I finished watching The Red Tent which is, I have to say-I extremely love it. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of a biblical movie. But they did it so extremely well-written and so respectful of the women in the bible way better than I have ever see in any Christian movie. It centers around the themes of forgiveness but most importantly the strength, encouragement, and relationships of women that span from experiences, backgrounds and even different nationalities (tribes in this case) and is inspirational to the powerful bond of Sisterhood between many Christian Women that struggle within both a Christian and Non-Christian Patriarchy and how together we can overcome obstacles in our lives.

The Red Tent

One of the things I noticed the most was that it states true to what happened with Jacob between Rachel and Lean; although it does point out there was indeed a slight love-triangle between the sisters, they actually don’t portray any bitter rivalry or passive-aggressiveness among them. And not even the slave girls Bilah and Zilah suffer in any inferiority complex marriage-wise while they are all Jacob’s wives. Sadly, I felt like the romance and love interest scenes in this movie seemed forced and very rushed, not giving us enough time for the characters to get to know each other. I mean, in the first few minutes of the movie, Rachel kisses Jacob when he appears haggard from traveling and collapses at her feet. (Up the squick factor to the fact that anyone who has read the bible watching this movie knows they are cousins. Ewww) but the girl does get chastised for it. So its not as if it was something done out of the blue and never brought up or spoken of.

The wives act more as friends and kinship among each other than they portray the brothers, so any kind of discrepancy you see that would have been mentioned in the Bible comes from the over-masculine side of the brothers feasting on their male egos and aggressiveness (Joseph’s Brothers-they make a huge point in focusing on Joseph being close to Dinah as siblings) with the exception of Joseph being the quiet sensitive guy. So most of the story is focused on Dinah which if you all know from your bible was the “Rape Victim that sparked a bloodbath” and I will be honest they really didn’t play up the rape angle of Dinah at all. Her relationship with Shalem as I come to find was a bit more consensual and only became a issue with the father and brothers because of a insult to their own honor and dignity. And although I am a huge nitpicker of Bible movies being faithful to the source material I am actually glad they didn’t go with the whole rape thing. And the reason being well..that is the only thing she is associated with in the bible. In fact, in my own bible, they title it: “The Dinah Incident” and seeing how you see her character and how she is so human with strengths, pains, goals, and amazing character development that I have not see in a Christian movie since….well ever. It becomes almost insulting downgrading her by just her tragedy. I could relate and see so much of her in me that throughout the movie I was pretty nervous the movie (being that it did aired on Lifetime as a mini-series) I expected it was going to happen but it took a surprise turn that I didn’t see coming.

The central main female protagonist, Dinah is a strong-willed woman, who with the teachings of her mothers (there are no tensions between Leah and Rachel in raising her to womanhood and thus she is given a healthy, nurturing upbringing by both the wives and slave-wives) not only learns to stand up and speak for herself but those who are abused, hurt, and starving. And yet shows compassion for many (especially other women) to those in trouble and in many instances of the movie ends up being the voice of reason when even characters like Jacob and Joseph start to get a little hot under the collar and let their frustrations get the best of them. The characters are very humanizing with a little part in some of the excellent work from the actors playing them. However, I did find there was some misplaced casting in regards to the character’s ages. Sometimes like with the case of Jacob and Rebecca, it looked like they were within the same age range and yet they were suppose to be son and mother. And Dinah when standing next to her son Bar-Shalem will look like they are both the same age and more like they are siblings more than Mother and Son. And there were times the women that were meant to be the brides looked a bit too long or old. The choice in acting was okay, but it did make the ages a little hard to convince and noticeable.

The movie tells the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. But its more from the female perspective than the usual bible or male perspective we have usually gotten. So you get a more better understanding of the thought process behind their actions or what they did according the bible text, that as a woman makes a bit more sense. Such as the wedding night scene with Jacob and Rachel. Even though Leah fell in love with Jacob, and Rachel was promised to him as a bride. The way they set it up was that Leah did it more out of love of her sister who was getting cold feet about giving up her virginity to her bridegroom and not out of something Laban did to get his eldest daughter married off, that might have been his intention, but seeing how much of a bond the two sisters have to help each other out. Leah putting on the veil makes more sense when you realize she was doing this for love of her sister. Jacob in this movie is a bit more understanding than he can be or should. But doesn’t come off as a pushover. He still comes off as the head of the tribe and still respects his wives advice and wisdom when they give it in certain matters within the movie.

I am not sure, but whether it was biblically accurate or not, Laban was portrayed as a dickish asshole, and later on a abusive wife-beater that sadly did not get his comeuppance when he should have. And even Reuben was looking pretty much like a nice guy up against this dude. And he was one of the guys that sold Joseph into slavery. And yes, we will get to him soon.

Dinah narrates the story and describes more in detail of “The Red Tent” which is basically a tent where women of the tribe will gather together to bond, give birth within, and sit around “talking, sharing stories, and gossiping” some of these scenes do give off a sort of “Waiting To Exhale” and “Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisters.” vibe to it, but they tone it down to where its more of a ritual of femininity and respect of menstruation (yes, menstruation is mentioned in this movie, but they mostly call it a sacred bleeding and its spoken of with tactfulness and reverence rather than jokes about its negativity and there is quite a lack of PMS joke luckily as to not ruin the female bonding scenes.) There is no image of it which is good, but seeing how most of the women are midwives, Rachel being one and Dinah under her apprenticeship, you do see portrayals of women giving birth but its not graphic so you can eat while watching this movie happily.

The movie explores different shades of Forgiveness, making it not such a black and white thing. A important Christian concept in our faith, however, it is portrayed realistically and in a humanizing way. Actually showing it in action on the screen, rather than what some Christian movies will do and tell us about forgiveness like it is a lecture. It lets the characters actually perform it. For example, the main character goes through the whole movie angry at her father for not stopping her brothers attack on Shelem and murdering her husband, and then later on selling Joseph into slavery which….yeah, wasn’t surprising to me as I honestly knew what to expect….. and then her being upset at her mother-in-law the queen for betraying her by forcing her into being a nursemaid/slave unable to be with her son unless performing nursemaid duties, forbidding her from telling him about his father or what happened that night. Later on when The Queen is dying, she asks Dinah for her forgiveness, Dinah doesn’t say it, but she does comfort the Queen until her son arrives which speaks louder than words and even more so when she tells her son what his grandmother did, but not out of spite or anger, rather that she was doing it as a pained grieving mother, and though the way she did it was hurtful, it was understandable as a woman who had lost everything. A lot of people don’t realize that is part of forgiveness, when you come to terms to what someone who hurt you had done, but although you don’t condone what they did, you realize their reason and why they did it. Reflecting and depending on the situation, maybe even emphasizing. When you talk about what they did, and feel no hate about it or seething anger. Its a good sign you have accepted their forgiveness and are at peace with it.

Once again, Dinah, after the murder of her first husband, the prince leaves her father’s tribe in anger and is taken by The Queen, her mother-in-law basically, to Thebes in Egypt. Where she gives birth to the baby and later becomes her nursemaid ala “The Yoshabel treatment from The Book of Exodus.” well, honestly I feel that is kinda where they snatched on, but not quite. Seriously when I heard that I was tempted to make a “The Prince of Egypt” joke in there a few times.

And speaking of which, we move to Joseph’s part. Now, I will be God-honest with you guys. I at first, did not get the need of Joseph’s story arc, and I felt that it almost distracted from Dinah’s actual story. Possibly due to the fact that I had seen so many adaptations of it (except for the “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” but I don’t know if that counts as a serious Joseph story) and knew the story by heart, it really didn’t engage me. And I felt like it was there for extra padding in a two-parter miniseries. I was more engrossed in Dinah’s story that I was looking at Joseph scene where they sold him into slavery getting kinda bored. However, one of the things I did like about the movie was that, unlike a few Christian movies that tend to fall into certain cliches that I could see coming a mile away, this movie threw in a few good plot twists that I did not see coming and kept the movie fresh and intriguing. They actually do ending up winding Joseph’s story arc and twisting it to cross paths with Dinah’s plot which to the movie’s credit actually hide the surprise until it finally comes up and smacks you on the nose. A lot of the themes in this movie although have the good Christian concept of Forgiveness, it is more woman-driven and female centric placing more voice on the female biblical characters than in the male ones and gives them more depth and study. So I would recommend this movie to any Christian woman who longs to have a Christian movie with a strong female protagonist that is not fleshed out by male characters for once while wanting to be inspired to overcome obstacles and find the strength in God to do so.

And I am sad to say, most of the Christian men would probably not be interested or bored by it I am sorry to say. Or may even find the themes of this movie upsetting because it doesn’t “apply” to them. I think in this day and age. We need more good Christian movies that more woman can relate to and grow on in this case.

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