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From the Manger to the Cross; or, Jesus of Nazareth (1912)

TV-PG | | Biography, Drama | 1913 (USA)
An account of the life of Jesus Christ, based on the books of the New Testament: After Jesus' birth is foretold to his parents, he is born in Bethlehem, and is visited by shepherds and wise... See full summary »

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Jesus - the Man (as Robert Henderson-Bland)
Percy Dyer ...
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Samuel Morgan ...
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Robert G. Vignola ...
George Kellog ...
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An account of the life of Jesus Christ, based on the books of the New Testament: After Jesus' birth is foretold to his parents, he is born in Bethlehem, and is visited by shepherds and wise men. After a stay in Egypt to avoid King Herod, his family settles in Nazareth. After years of preparation, Jesus gathers together a group of disciples, and then begins to speak publicly and to perform miracles, inspiring hope in many of his listeners, but also arousing some dangerous opposition. Written by Snow Leopard

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Biography | Drama

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TV-PG
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1913 (USA)  »

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Jesus of Nazareth  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Gene Gauntier later claimed that she was recovering from sunstroke on the broiling locations when the idea for the film came to her. See more »

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Version of Il messia (1975) See more »

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FIRST AMERICAN FEATURE FILM WELL DONE
9 February 2004 | by (Atlanta, Georgia) – See all my reviews

Director Sidney Olcott did not have a stunning career. If anything it was mediocre at best. But on this effort he played above his head, perhaps not even realizing it. "From the Manger to the Cross" is a beautiful film, rich in substance and well acted as well.

The story is well known and Olcott details all of Christ's shining biblical moments in a series of scenes that overcomes many setbacks of the early 1910's. Of particular note is the way he uses a large cast to still convey the emotions present during a particular scene. Christ's admittance to his disciples that his days on earth are numbered come to mind here. On location shooting, no easy task for its day considering the entire thing was done in Egypt and Palestine, would definitely be another.

Even with these tools, the film may have fallen flat were it not for Robert Henderson-Bland's portrayal of Jesus. When the most crucial aspects of the Messiah's personality are the things he said, how can a silent film succeed in showing his substance? Answer: facial expressions and body language. And Bland, without the as yet invented close-up, shines in showing Christ as a man of wisdom, gentleness, and courage. Bland's Jesus is still among the finest to ever grace a screen and we're closing in on a century of film following it. Robert Vignola's Judas also deserves a mention as well.

It also bares mentioning that Timothy Howard's organ score, added in 1994 upon the film's home release, is a beautiful addition. In 1998 "From the Manger to the Cross" was given the highest honor a film can receive: it was added to the National Film Registry, an accolade it well deserves. For now and all time it should be recognized not only as America's first feature film but as a testament to what can be accomplished in the name of art and love when all of the pieces fall into the right place at the right time. Olcott and Henderson-Bland forever have a much deserved home in film history's hall of fame.

The nutshell: required viewing for directing, acting, technological achievement, and artistic beauty...8/10.


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