Saturday, April 12, 2008

CAITLIN MORAN, television critic for the London Times, wasn't impressed by Tudor Parfitt's Ark of the Covenant theory:
I don't think I'm going to wholly disintegrate your day when I tell you that Parfitt doesn't actually find the Ark. Let's face it - if humanity ever finds what is essentially God's handbag, it's not going to be left to the TV critics to break the news. CNN, I think, might get there first.

What Parfitt does do, however, is trace - using DNA - the lost tribes of Israel, their flight into Africa, and the establishment of Jewish tribes in Zimbabwe that exist until this day. It's all quite reasonable and mildly diverting. Definitely worth, say, half an hour of your life; particularly if you're into African Jews.

However, having worked himself up into a big tizzy about his life-long quest for the Ark - “Five years went by without any leads,” he says, at one point, with almost incalculable weariness - and having been giving a whopping and, frankly, unnecessary 75 minutes to fill, Parfitt keeps on flogging the dead Ark horse to a point of mild dementia.

In the end, he becomes convinced that he's found the real Ark. The real Ark, according to Parfitt and not really anyone else at all, is not a sacred box, 80cm wide and high, lined inside and out with gold, topped with a golden lid, and two golden cherubs with outstretched wings, through which one can hear the voice of God.

It's actually - a drum. Yes, a drum. A knackered old drum from Africa. That's, erm, only 600 years old. That Parfitt eventually finds in a cupboard. In a museum. By looking through a card index.

Yes, I know. It's not quite grabbing-your-hat-from-underneath-the-closing-stone-door-having-just-outrun-the-giant-boulder.

So, mmmmm. Whilst it's great to see bone-botherers going for the big ticket historical items again - why settle for a submerged Neolithic toilet-area, when you could track down the intercom to God? - in this case, it doesn't really work, thrill-wise.
Oh well.

(Background here, and keep following the links back.)