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The Green Pastures

(1936 b 93')

En: 7 Ed: 8

Marc Connelly adapted his own play about Sunday school stories from the Old Testament in the idiom of rural Negroes of the time.

Mr. Deshee (George Reed) takes children to Sunday school and describes heaven as a fish fry. The angel Gabriel (Oscar Polk) announces De Lawd Jehovah (Rex Ingram), and the choir sings. De Lawd creates firmament, earth, the sun, and finally man. He gives Adam (Rex Ingram) Eve and tells them to eat fruit except from one tree; but the Sunday school children know what happened. Cain tells De Lawd why he killed Abel, and De Lawd tells him to get out and get married. De Lawd also reprimands Zeba (Edna Mae Harris), who sasses him. He sees men gambling and drinking and meets Noah (Eddie Anderson), who invites him for chicken dinner. Noah says morals are declining, and De Lawd tells him it is going to rain; so he should build an ark for the animals. De Lawd allows Noah only one keg. People laugh at Noah, and Cain the Sixth kills a man. It rains as animal pairs board the ark. A rainbow appears, and the flood recedes.

Again De Lawd tells Gabriel he is displeased, and he calls in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for counsel. De Lawd speaks to Moses (Frank Wilson) and makes him a tricker. Pharoah (Ernest Whitman) holds court and is impressed by the tricks of Moses and Aaron (George Reed). Moses asks Pharoah to let the Hebrews go. When he refuses, Moses and Aaron have De Lawd strike down the oldest sons. The Hebrews migrate, and old Moses tells Joshua to take Jericho. The Hebrews say good-bye to Moses, and De Lawd takes him up the mountain.

Deshee tells the children that people were wicked and enslaved again in Babylon. Women dance for the king. A prophet tells them to repent, and the king has him shot dead. After thunder De Lawd warns them. De Lawd doesn't want to go down. Hezdrel (Rex Ingram) tells De Lawd that through suffering they found a new God who is merciful. De Lawd gets an idea in heaven, and the choir sings "Hallelujah, King Jesus, Lord of Mercy."

Excellent gospel singing highlights this creative story-telling that sets Bible fables in the daily lives of contemporary African Americans, enabling the audience to appreciate their culture and learn religious lessons. So threatening to the racially prejudiced was this film that it was banned in parts of the South.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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