‘The Red Tent’ is a two part Lifetime mini-series and adaptation of Anita Diamant’s bestseller based on the Old Testament story of Jacob and Leah’s daughter Dinah and her relationship with her father’s two wives (Leah and Rachel) and two concubines (Zilpah and Bilhah).
The story is told through the eyes of Dinah and uses her character to investigate the life and role of women in ancient Jewish society (The titular red tent is a reference to a special tent women were supposed to stay when giving birth or menstruating).
The overall plot reimagines the story of Dinah as she is raped by a Canaanite prince, prompting her brothers to take revenge and murder the prince’s entire tribe. Dinah, destroyed by everything that happens, flees to Egypt where she attempts to start over. Intricately woven into the story are portions of other stories from the same period of biblical history involving Dinah’s family and other relations.
The film, like its source novel, deviates from (or controversially expands) the actual Biblical text, which might upset some viewers. Despite this, the artistic license does make for good storytelling. Much of the story the film is based on only take up a few lines in the actual Bible (this is pretty common with many of its more popular stories). In this way the expansion and reimagining of the story are pretty in-line with the way other Biblical stories are adapted for books or movies. The issue here, as with some other such adaptations, is that some people will not agree with Diamant’s interpretation. People on the fence about watching the film due its controversial nature should remember that this is an artistic exploration of womanhood during ancient Biblical times, and not a declaration by the filmmakers that this is exactly what happened.
‘The Red Tent’ is an interesting exploration of the lives of women in ancient Biblical times told through the dramatization of well-known Biblical characters. It deviates from its source text, but there is an ambiguity in the sources that Diamant cleverly uses as a starting point for her exposition. Fans of the novel should be pretty happy with Lifetime’s film adaptation.
Airs Sunday and Monday, December 7 and 8th on Lifetime.