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Film: King David
David: It is through the heart, and the heart alone, that God speaks to man.

King David is a 1985 Biblical film about the second king of Israel, David. It was directed by Bruce Beresford and stars Richard Gere, Edward Woodward, Alice Krige, Dennis Quilley, Niall Buggley, George Eastmann, and Christopher Malcolm. It was filmed in Matera and Craco in Italy and at Pinewood Studios in England.

The New York Times said about the film, "...King David was not a good film, however it was good how the writers and Beresford made the movie as Biblically canonical as they could..." and it has a 14% rating at the website Rotten Tomatoes. Richard Gere earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor, where he lost to Sylvester Stallone for both Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV. Bruce Beresford later said of the film: "I think there are a few things in it that are interesting. But, I think there are so many things that are wrong. We never liked the script... we never really caught the friendship between David and Jonathan. There weren't enough scenes between them. And David, himself - I think Richard Gere was miscast. He is a wonderful actor but he is much better in contemporary pieces."

Tropes in King David:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Of the First and Second Books of Samuel plus a bit from the First Book of Kings and the Psalms. Though it can also come across as Compressed Adaptation.
  • Adaptational Villainy: To make David's affair with Bathsheba seem more sympathetic, Bathsheba tells David that her husband Uriah beats her. This is not stated at all in the Bible, where Uriah is described as an honorable man.
  • Affably Evil: King Saul who was actually a righteous king at first, but let his jealousy of David and his envy towards David turn him evil.
  • Asshole Victim: Uriah is turned into one by David's Uriah Gambit. The film keeps the scene where Nathan the prophet chews out David for killing him, which seems at odds with the film's depiction of Uriah as a mean guy.
  • Artistic License - History: The Star of David wasn't around during the time of David.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: David when he is crowned King of Israel. We don't see the actual crowning, but we do see his ecstatic dance (wearing only a loincloth) before the Ark of the Covenant during a procession, shortly after being crowned.
  • Bible Times
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: The outlawed David manages to sneak into a cave while Saul is sleeping. He could have killed him, but just steals his sword, and the next morning shows this to him and his army to prove he is no enemy. He then throws it down, as he was standing on higher ground.
  • BFS: The sword of Goliath, which David later uses for himself. It's partially Goliath's undoing that he drops his shield, which had already deflected David's first stones, to draw and swing his sword with both hands.
  • Chase Fight: Absalom makes his getaway when his army is routed, and David's general Joab chases after him. Both are riding chariots and shoot arrows or throw spears at each other. When one of his horses is injured, Absalom then cuts the other free and rides away on it, but his voluminous hair is caught on tree branches, allowing Joab to finish him off.
  • The Chosen One: David, like Saul before him, was anointed King by the Prophet Samuel.
  • Civil War: Prince Absalom, David's favorite son, comes to rebel against his father, declaring himself king.
  • Combat by Champion: David and Goliath.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Saul by the Philistines at the battle of Mt. Gilboa. He insisted on meeting them on the field even though his army was greatly outnumbered.
    • Absalom's rebellion falls apart in one ambush.
  • David Versus Goliath: Of course.
  • Death by Irony: Jonathan is killed by a Philistine with a sling.
  • Death Seeker: Saul in his last battle.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The part of the Bible where Saul first falls out of favor with God when he doesn't wipe out the Amalekites isn't sanitized. The Prophet Samuel goes to Saul where he finds him holding the King of Amalek prisoner at his feet, discussing a treaty. Samuel lectures Saul about following God's orders and chops off the King of Amalek's head himself.
    • David's polygamy.
    • In a bit not in the Bible, Saul and Jonathan watch David consummate his marriage with the princess Michal through the curtains of their bed.
  • Driven to Suicide: Saul falls on his sword.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • The prophet Nathan is first seen as the prophet Samuel's apprentice, long before he first appears in the Biblical text.
    • Bathsheba similarly appears in the crowd when David is dancing before the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Enemy Mine: David is forced to seek shelter with the Philistines. His only condition is he won't fight for them against Israel.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The High Priest.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Saul orders his soldiers to kill the priests of the Ark for helping David. The first man he asks refuses and gets Saul's spear through his gut. After another man complies, Saul again does this to the High Priest, who is the last to die.
  • Informed Ability: The adult David's prowess as a warrior for which he became famous while Saul was still king - meaning Richard Gere doesn't get to be in any battle scenes unlike the actors for Saul, Jonathan and Absalom. Though the trailer does show him in battle.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • When David learns that Saul and Jonathan are dead.
    • After Nathan chastises David for killing Uriah.
    • When David learns that Absalom is dead.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: David and Jonathan, or at least they intended to show it. Jonathan is played by the same adult actor throughout the film, and a different actor plays young David, implying a Big Brother Mentor dynamic. Jonathan first takes the young David from Bethlehem to be Saul's musician, and later praises him after he kills Goliath. A transition later, David is now Richard Gere, and by then David and Jonathan have become comrades in Saul's army.
  • Keystone Army: After David defeats Goliath, the entire Philistine army routs and the Israelites eagerly give chase.
  • Mythology Gag: A distraught Saul cries: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This comes from Psalm 22 which David traditionally composed. But it was also said by Jesus when he was crucified, according to Christian scripture.
  • Naked First Impression: David first sees Bathsheba while she is bathing.
  • Off with His Head!: The King of Amalek, Goliath, and Absalom.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: After Absalom dies, David smashes a model of the Temple complex (which Solomon would later actually build) with Goliath's sword, but stops when he sees the little model of the Ark of the Covenant. Perhaps confusingly, the scene is overlaid with narration saying how the Lord blessed David.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Absalom kills his own (half) brother when he rapes their sister.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Saul leads his army from the front, but surprisingly not David after he becomes King. He leaves his battles for his general Joab to fight - and this leads to Absalom's death when Joab personally kills him despite David's orders to spare him.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right:
    • Jonathan helps David escape after his own father Saul had ordered his arrest.
    • David seeks shelter with the High Priest, and when he's forced to flee elsewhere the High Priest gives him bread that was reserved for ritual purposes, "may God forgive us both".
    • David is willing to forgive Absalom for killing his own brother out of revenge after he raped their sister, while the Prophet Nathan insists on following "an eye for an eye... a life for a life" to the letter. Absalom is spared but he later rebels against David...
  • Shirtless Scene: David's dance.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Averted with David not killing the man who brought him news of Saul and Jonathan's deaths like in the Bible. He almost does, but he throws away his sword in despair instead.
  • Sword And Sandal
  • The Voiceless: Goliath only speaks in grunts, so all his lines from the Bible are given to a Hammy Herald.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Saul when he goes to great lengths to try and have David killed to secure the throne for his family.
  • The Wise Prince: Jonathan serves as the voice of reason for his father Saul. He isn't envious of David being anointed King in Saul's place - and his place in turn - because David is worthy of their love. He also helps David escape Saul's wrath when he is outlawed, but cannot join him outright because he still loves his increasingly unstable father.
    "You have Someone much greater than I to look after you. My father has no one."
The Greatest Story Ever ToldSword And SandalNoah
The Journey Of Natty GannFilms of the 1980sKiss of the Spider Woman

alternative title(s): King David
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