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Editing the Story: The Lost Mini-Series, "A.D."

A.D. 1985

Vincenzo Labella Carthago Films S.a.r.l. (in collaboration with)
National Broadcasting Company (NBC) (in collaboration with)
Procter & Gamble Productions (PGP) (in collaboration with)
Gospel Communications International (USA) (all media) A.D.

Recently, audiences across the continent were glued to their television screens as a mini-series on the Bible aired.  Spellbound people were drawn into the powerful story of human history, fall and redemption... The medium of film creatively engaged the imagination and influenced a new generation in a powerful manner.
In 1985, something similar occurred with the mini series "A.D." or "Anno Domini".  In some nine hours (12 episodes of 50 minutes) the events of the Books of Acts and the New Testament came to vivid life.  Historically accurate to an incredible degree it brought new insights into tired and overly familiar tales. 
An Emmy award winning series it took you into the world of that time, showed its debauchery, it cruelty, and its reality with keen detail.  The suffering of the common person, the madness of the rulers, and the harsh daily life of  'those Bible people' came to life. To share the Gospel in the setting so movingly shown in this series took on new meaning as the threat, the fear, and courage were illustrated.  The depths to which society had fallen has to be understood to realize the meaning of the hope of Jesus Christ.  The sacrifices made...the lives lived...and the power of love to change the course of history are powerfully demonstrated in each and every episode.
Unfortunately, that version is not one you can find.  A sanitized and harshly edited version - that removed several hours of story! - gallops through the story carelessly riding past scenes and elements designed to give crucial context, to share the impact of that life on ordinary people and show the stark  foulness of a life given over to sin.  Just as sunshine cannot be fully appreciated without the storm, this mini-series demonstrates the full story is needed to give contrast.   The present 6-hour (360 min) version may be suitable for use in church schools and with youth....but it is a pale substitute for the longer version that dared to show something beyond the two dimensional and quickly glossed over stories most had come to know.
Tame by what most people see on television in commercials and video games today, it was chiseled away by tiny foxes intent on making sure no one was offended, it was stripped of anything that might cause someone to complain. Lord, preserve us from those who seek to censure what others read, view, and experience.  They turned a dynamic and powerful experience able to touch the hearts of those who had no faith into a dull, plodding and spiritless monstrosity.
Just as "The Passion" had to show the beatings and the blood of Christ, "A.D." had to show the hedonistic lifestyle so reflective of contemporary life with its self-focused and self-gratifying ethos.  The comparisons, and the contrasts, are too powerful to be hacked away from the whole of the film.
Hopefully, someone will see fit to make the entire mini-series available once more.  I, and I know many others, will eagerly be waiting to share it with family and friends.


Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006



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