What distinguishes "The Story of David," which originally aired on ABC in 1976 and is now available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, from those glittering but soulless spectacles in the Cecil B. DeMille tradition is its attempt to convey the scriptural account as a drama of character.
David was a complex individual, the first biblical figure to emerge in terms of the modern concept of the individual. His human failings and moral lapses, his passions and weaknesses are intertwined with his strengths and accomplishments, with his sense of mission and readiness to repent his transgressions of God's law.
Ernest Kinoy's script succeeded admirably in fashioning a consistent whole out of the familiar and the less well-known episodes in David's rise from unassuming shepherd boy to national leader. Kinoy skillfully turned chronicle into drama in such a way as not to detract from the original sense of the material.
In its DVD incarnation, the remastered miniseries, which clocks in at three hours-plus and was co-directed by Alex Segal and David Lowell Rich, looks quite good, despite some softness in the image. It was filmed on location in Israel and Spain.
Although this was not intended primarily as a religious program, it still satisfies as an accurate biblical adaptation. Certainly the level of historical authenticity is convincing in the way the period might have looked; David Noel Freedman, editor of the "Anchor Bible" series, did his work well as the project's consultant.
The early part of this presentation was unfortunately handicapped by Timothy Bottoms' performance as the young David. He was simply too bland an actor to be able to hold his own with such heavyweights as Anthony Quayle, who made King Saul so much more fascinating. As might be expected, Keith Michell (who many may remember for his tour-de-force performance as Henry VIII on PBS) gave another outstanding performance as King David.
"The Story of David" was a highly ambitious production that succeeded as meaningful entertainment. While its focus as biblical re-creation is not the history of salvation, it does deal with the moral and ethical problems that are basic to it.There are no extras on the DVD, which is presented in full screen.