The Story of God with Morgan Freeman
National Geographic Channel, Sundays at 8pm
Let’s get the obvious joke out of the way; Morgan Freeman’s new documentary series, The Story of God, isn’t his life story. And as the show’s executive producer James Younger points out, “Morgan will be the first person to tell you that having played God in a film in no way qualifies you to make a show about him!”
What this six-part documentary series does do is show us a side to Morgan that we don’t get to see in his films: that of a man who’s immensely curious about the world around him, about religion, and about life’s big questions. Curious enough to go travelling around the world in search of answers.
The idea for The Story of God came out of another documentary show Morgan and James worked on together, called Through the Wormhole. “That series asked questions about the meaning of life and our place in the universe,” says James. “This series, in a way, is an extension of that.
“The idea for this series came about some years ago, when Morgan went to Istanbul and saw the Hagia Sophia. It had both images of Jesus and Quranic scriptures on its walls. He asked, ‘How can both these be in the same place?’ and his guide explained to him that Jesus is considered a prophet in Islam. Morgan was stunned; he’d never known that. And he thought, ‘If I didn’t know that, I’m sure lots of other people don’t either.’ This was a reason to bridge the divides.”
Sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, The Story of God does make for compelling viewing. In his travels, Morgan meets religious scholars and leaders from a wide range of faiths, a reformed jihadist who's now an expert on terrorism prevention, and scientists working on the next stage of artificial intelligence. He comes back with more questions than answers – but then, with a subject this big, that's to be expected.