Following in the footsteps of Mel Brooks and Monty Python, a top Israeli comedy troupe is turning its attention to the Bible.
Heading to the big screen for its feature-film debut, the cast of the Israeli hit TV show “Eretz Nehederet” (“A Wonderful Country”) is taking on a story not widely known for its comic dimensions: depravity and mass death during the final days of Sodom.
In “This Is Sodom,” scheduled for August release, the original Sin City is resurrected in all its degenerate glory, portrayed as a town where popular pastimes include gambling, participating in orgies and pushing old ladies out of wheelchairs.
Starring Abraham, Lot and one soon-to-be pillar of salt, the spoof takes liberties with its source material, giving Lot’s wife a back story as a former Canaanite pop star. (Lot and his wife share a daughter named Charlotte, who wants to study abroad in Beersheva.)
The city’s marketplace is portrayed as a true epicenter of sin, with merchants hawking “lamb in its mother’s milk,” and — this may not be directly from in the Bible — DVDs to watch on Yom Kippur.
The movie marks something of a new direction for both “Eretz Nehederet” and Israeli film.
Known for its brutal impersonations of Israeli politicians, the TV show — a loose equivalent to “Saturday Night Live” — has previously restricted itself to the small screen, where it broke through as a ratings juggernaut after its 2003 debut.
The subject matter also marks a change of pace. Israel’s movie industry has generally left biblical epics to Hollywood because of financial constraints.
Funded by a consortium of production companies and distributors, “This Is Sodom” makes use of Israel’s historical landscape, shooting outdoor scenes in the Judean desert, not far from the site of the real Sodom.
In a twist worthy of a skit on “Eretz Nehederet,” interior scenes were shot at a studio in Bulgaria, as part of an effort to lower costs.
This story "A Comedy of Biblical Proportions" was written by Nathan Burstein.