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Bible lesson.

Amy Sullivan should do more research and The Washington Monthly fact-checking ("Jesus Christ, Superstar," June).

First, Kirk Douglas did not win an Academy Award for Spartacus. He was not even nominated for this film (Peter Ustinov earned Best Supporting Actor honors and Alex North was nominated for Best Score). If it is any consolation to Sullivan, Kirk Douglas did receive an honorary Academy Award in 1996.

Second, Spartacus is not about religion unless you consider freedom "faith-based." It is the fictionalized account of a 73-71 BCE slave revolt against pre-Imperial Rome. Had Sullivan bothered to check even the most basic of film references she would have discovered this fact. Maybe the crucifixion scenes at the end confused her.

Third, in mentioning other "Bible movies," Sullivan ignores religious epics such as The Bible (1966) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), as well as numerous TV movies and mini-series (Abraham in '94; Joseph in '95; Solomon in '97; .Noah's Ark in '99). She also ignores recent TV offerings such as "Joan of Arcadia" and past series like "Highway to Heaven" ('84-'89).

Your readers expect much more than "flip" interpretations of politics and culture from your fine publication.

John Nelson

Santa Monica, Calif.

Sullivan responds: A careful read of my article reveals that I note religiously-themed entertainment disappeared in the 1960s. The Bible and The Greatest Story Ever Told are among the last of the Hollywood Bible blockbusters. I also cited "the exception of a few bland made fox-television movies" and made at least implicit a distinction between productions based on biblical stories and those--like "Joan of Arcadia" or "7th Heaven" that simply involve religious characters. While Spartacus was hardly as religious as other contemporary fare such as The Ten Commandments, its producers clearly meant to place it in a biblical context, including a voiceover ending that noted Spartacus's son was born free, bur in a century, a mall would come who would set all men free. Kirk Douglas did not win an Oscar for his role as the rebellious slave. My apology for that error.
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Author:Sullivan, Amy
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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