A Lego Master reviews 'The Bible: A Brickfilm'
Josh Taylor has watched God’s word as a Lego feature. And his verdict is …
When I heard there was going to be a series of Lego films telling the story of the Bible from start to finish, I was intrigued.
My love of Lego (or, as we say down here in South Australia, ‘Laygo’) and for sharing the Bible with others was coming together for these feature-length films, so I sure was excited.
As I built some of my own Lego, I sat down to watch The Bible: A Brickfilm. This is the first movie in a planned trilogy to span from Genesis to Revelation, and it opens with the booming voice of God commanding light into existence. Straight away, we are thrust into the beginning of Genesis with various animations of the earth forming and lush plants creating a jungle of sorts.
The first signs of Lego we see are the classic Lego animals that many of us knew and loved as kids; some of which are worth a pretty penny these days. We then see Adam and Eve in minifigure form, and the story of Genesis continues from there on its way to the Old Testament book of Joshua.
Having not heard anything about this film before watching it, I was initially surprised by the lack of Lego. The combination of real-life scenery, animation and Lego was a little unexpected, actually. As a pretty big Lego fan, I was a bit sceptical as to how this would go …
I was pleasantly surprised at how well these worlds combined to retell the story of the Bible, although whenever Lego was not used, I kept thinking how it easily could have been. Still, the execution of what was put together was quite phenomenal and the little clothes and outfits made for the characters was impressive (and not to mention adorable; I mean, where can I get one of those coats of many colours?).
The miniature scenes not made out of Lego would have still taken a long time to create and stage, so there is definitely a lot of credit due to the efforts of film-maker Josh Carroll and his team. If you look closely, you might even spot a few real-life ants as extras some times.
The animation worked well, from the forming of the earth through to the burning bush, and it all tied in smoothly. Having tried my hand at Lego animation in the past, I know why Carroll chose to steer clear of stop motion for a feature-length film. The amount of time and effort that would have to be invested in a stop-motion animated feature would have been gruelling for sure.
The choice to work with still scenes, smattered with a few moving characters here and there, was a wise one – not only practically but it also helped convey the importance of the story itself. Bringing the characters to life is the camera work and angles; the movements of each character is all done off camera, but you never would have noticed. This choice also adds a great deal of realism (despite the characters all being plastic toys!), which is necessary to tell the story in a serious way. I also loved the clever use of flooding water, smoke as the Spirit of God and other visual effects.
I had one moment of heart palpitations when I thought a Lego sheep was being set on fire at an altar.
Given the amount that is being packed in, the story moves quite quickly from one thing to the next. While I already knew what was going to happen next, there wasn’t a dull moment as the pace engaged me – and I was keen to see how they would depict the next part of the Bible in Lego.
The voice acting was quite good and really assisted in telling the story, not detracting from it. However, I was taken aback when Satan, in the form of a serpent, began to speak. The casting choice of a woman for the role was, in my opinion, biblically inaccurate. This ‘interesting’ choice can be easily overlooked as the dialogue is only for a few minutes.
The soundtrack and audio effects are another notable element that I really loved, from the sound of footsteps down a path and animal noises, to the clanging of swords and crackling of fire. The soundtrack really helped to draw me into each scene, especially from one vastly different location to the next, like the tranquil garden of Eden to the bustling metropolis of Egypt.
I also had one moment of heart palpitations when I thought a Lego sheep was being set on fire at an altar. But after rewinding the scene and seeing that it wasn’t, I was able to compose myself and continue. Glad I did because a few fun features sneak into the film, including a Lego dinosaur, the Peruvian Idol from the Lego ‘Indiana Jones’ range, the technique of removing a minifigure arm to get it to point out to the side (something Lego people are not great at), and ancient Egyptian paintings and Sphinx which were all minifigures.
Such funny elements here and there added a good chuckle along the way, which I thought was a nice touch. Another noteworthy thing was finding out this film was shot on location in Uganda, Africa. For some reason, this made the whole thing sound way cooler than, say, ‘the director’s back yard’.
The Bible: A Brickfilm truly shares ‘the amazing narrative that God has been weaving together throughout all of human history’.
Overall, this Brickfilm really did great justice to the Bible in depicting not only a biblically accurate account, but a dramatic and theatrical one too. Being true to the stories of the Bible, there is a necessary amount of violence – including blood and death of people and animals; however, when this is done in Lego form and makes it whole lot tamer to watch. Being a children’s toy after all, using Lego makes it easy to stay true to the story while also making it digestible for even a younger audience.
I give The Bible: A Brickfilm a score of eight LEGO studs out of ten. Sure, I would have loved to see more Lego, as any fan would, but I now cannot wait to watch the next instalment.
In the words of The Bible: A Brickfilm team, I feel it truly shares ‘the amazing narrative that God has been weaving together throughout all of human history’.
Why not try your hand at recreating some of your favourite Lego stories from Genesis through to Joshua at home?
You could make the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, The Tower of Babel, Joseph and his Colourful Coat, Moses parting the Red Sea and much more! This could be a great activity to do in the school holidays with friends or family members.
I would love to see what you can create! Maybe you can make a movie about it …