David: The Man Behind the Crown

Created by Wilf Merttens, The Pitch 2022

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A fictional documentary that uses talking heads to highlight the conflicting opinions and interpretations of David found in scripture. Here is David’s story told by those who knew him best. Someone watching this film will get some kind of sketch of David's journey from shepherd to King, with a few key dramatic moments picked apart in detail. The documentary will be at the more sensational end of the genre, employing VH1 ‘Behind the Music’ clichés and lingering over the intrigues of David’s reign. This form provides opportunity for satire but also throws into relief the conflicted nature of this classic biblical narrative. Making the podcast about David, I found the story rich in psychological and theological truth. David is a sinner, in some sense only ironically the 'ideal' king: more of a horrible warning than a good example. And yet he learns from suffering, and even from his enemies. He consistently rediscovers humility. He searches for redemption in politics as he does in song. And, ultimately, he has the courage to believe that God loves him. It is to honour these truths and the biblical voices that reveal them that I want to make this film.

Biblical Connection

Because of the documentary form, scenes from David’s life can be mentioned or related without a corresponding spike in the budget. As far as possible, we will interweave news broadcasts and home video footage as per the genre we are imitating, but the story will be for the most part told by talking heads. This makes the process of editing the voluminous source material largely a matter of the economy of the narrative. Central to my telling are the scenes from Samuel 1 & 2 that best allow our characters to disagree, for instance David’s entry into palace life and Saul’s growing suspicion of him. Consider also how David's triumphant dancing into Jerusalem reveals heightened contestation around the King’s mythos. For the ‘young maids’ dancing with him, this is destiny. For his ex-Wife Michal, this is shameless exploitation of charismatic power. Other moments will only be touched on to add colour to a particular character’s witness: for instance David’s swashbuckling ‘rescue’ of Abigail from Nabal. Finally there are scenes that give us insight into David’s interior life or provide images of his faith. These include the death of Bathsheba’s first child and David’s rejection from God regarding the temple.