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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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Mary Magdalene
Samuel Morgan ...
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Robert G. Vignola ...
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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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1913 (USA)  »

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Jesus of Nazareth  »

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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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Featured in The Great Christmas Movies (1998) See more »

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FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS, OR Jesus OF NAZARETH (Sidney Olcott, 1912) **1/2
1 April 2010 | by See all my reviews

This inaugurates a handful of Good Friday-related films that I will be watching all through this week. It is perhaps the first major effort on celluloid about the life of Christ but, being virtually a century old, cinematic technique was obviously still very primitive then; though the static camera-work makes the whole feel more like a succession of religious tableaux than a film, framing is generally pretty crammed and sometimes even offers admirable depth for its era. While obviously recounting events which would be familiar to most viewers, this aims for absolute authenticity: not only is the entire script composed of direct (albeit stilted) quotes from the Scriptures but the film-makers even went so far as to shoot in the actual Palestinian locations! At the then-remarkable length of 70 minutes, the film virtually breezes through Christ's tenure on Earth, taking care to present most of the highlights and, naturally, devoting a good deal of the running-time – about 35%, in fact – to his Passion and Crucifixion (though, curiously enough, completely omitting the Resurrection - more on this later)! With this in mind, there is no real plot progression to speak of as a quote from one of the four Gospels merely sets up the current scene; even so, there are a couple of surprising blunders along the way: we are told that Christ was capable of working miracles before presenting the one which is recorded as having been His first (at the Wedding of Cana) and, again, an episode involving a woman applying an ointment to Jesus' feet and wiping it off with her hair is shown twice (the second depiction is an extended scene which also displays Judas' growing disenchantment with his Master but surely the two could have been combined!); likewise, the fact that Jesus indiscriminately raises a man from the dead before the famous revivification of his friend Lazarus diminishes the desired effect of the latter moment! As I said, the last third of the film involves the episodes in Christ's life which are commemorated at this particular time of year; even if, once more, they are presented in streamlined fashioned – thus lacking in perspective – the violence inflicted upon Jesus is quite realistically done (though, needless to say, nowhere near the quasi-exploitative detail exhibited in Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE Christ [2004]). I will be checking out another Silent film on the subject – the obscure Italian production CHRISTUS (1916) – but it is almost a given that the best early version of it will remain Cecil B. De Mille's much more elaborate (and genuinely impressive) THE KING OF KINGS (1927).

P.S. Apparently, this film was re-released in 1916, retitled simply Jesus OF NAZARETH and addressing the glaring Resurrection issue by attaching to it footage lifted from the aforementioned CHRISTUS (which, obviously enough, featured completely different actors)! For what it is worth, this alternate version can be easily viewed in its entirety (albeit in ten successive segments) on "You Tube"...


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