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William A. Wellman
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The first sound film made about the life of Jesus Christ, although it only covers Palm Sunday, the Passion, and the Resurrection. See more »
The cast list in the opening credits is read out by an off-screen voice. It lists the actors as follows: Harry Baur, Jean Gabin, Edwige Feuillère, Charles Granval, André Bacqué, Lucas Gridoux, Hubert Prélier, Juliette Verneuil and finally Robert Le Vigan as Jesus. See more »
Duvivier's story of the Passion is badly thought of in its native country."Ridiculous ,a film that should never have been made,rubbish,you name it".
When today you try to see what is good and what is bad in this movie,this is easy.
What is definitely bad:the choice of the actors.Le Vigan is closer to Rasputin than to Christ.His hoarse voice has nothing to fascinate the crowds and his beard....well if you cannot say something nice..And what about Gabin's Pilate? Gabin's Parisian accent is guaranteed to net nothing but horse -laugh.OK ,Claudia (Edwige Feuillère) tells her hubby he was nurtured in the plebeian milieu,but this is probably the actor's worst part in the golden thirties -shall I have to add that Gabin is THE French actor of that era,if not of the whole French cinema.
But all that remains is splendid indeed and did not deserve such a contempt:the cinematography is wonderful ;two examples :the three crosses ,climbing up the Golgotha ,or Judas 's death ,seen from a distance .Aerial pictures of Jerusalem already display Duvivier's sense of space which will be used to even better effects in his celebrated "Pepe le Moko" .The movements in the crowd compare favorably with the best of the epics of those ancient times such as Fred Niblo's "Ben Hur" (1925).The forty lashes scene ,which the populace intently watches behind the bars ,is not out of place in a Duvivier movie:nobody in France depicted human wickedness like he did.
The political side of the story is not passed over in silence either: Judas's motivations ,at the beck and call of the Sanhedrin ,Herode's scene (Unlike Gabin and Le Vigan, Harry Baur is well cast as the king and however his appearance does not exceed five minutes).
In the end what is good outshines what is bad.
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