In 1858 France, Bernadette, an adolescent peasant girl, has a vision of "a beautiful lady" in the city dump. She never claims it to be anything other than this, but the townspeople all ... See full summary »
The story of the life of Jesus Christ from his birth in Bethlehem to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Filmed on a relatively grand scale, the film includes all of the major events referred to in the New Testament; his baptism by John the Baptist; the miracles - cripples walking, blind men seeing; the fishes and the loaves; and so on. The film actually begins with the Roman invasion by Pompey in 65 B.C., the appointment of King Herod the Great by the Romans and finally the crowning of Herod Antipas after he murders his father. The revolt led by Barrabas is also included and John the Baptist's beheading as Salome's price for dancing for Herod. Written by
"King of Kings" just came out on DVD tonight and I watched it for the first time since it came out in 1961. It's a glorious experience! There's not a bad actor in the lot! Jeffrey Hunter is superb and quietly intense! Miklos Rosza's score is quite different (all things considered) from the one for Ben-Hur, even reaching atonal dephts in the temptation in the desert scenes and giddy Renaissance heights in the entry into Jerusalem. Nicholas Ray's direction is a study in gestural choreography, all human interactions being delineated by what the actors do with their hands to each other's body (a thesis could be written on that subject and probably was). This film has rhythm and flows like a river. Enrique Alarcon's art direction is incredibly tactful, stark and opulent when the need arises, with lots of added touches of pure strangeness (why does Herod keep a dead tree at the centre of his court?). The colours, the cinematography... This film has been miraculously preserved and the transfer to DVD must have been done at the Vatican. The sermon on the mount is one of cinema's textbook scenes, with Jesus doing a walkabout in the crowd and being surrounded by all sides on a hillside in a very democratic way (even though he wears the colours of a Communist). Even the opening sequence of Pompey entering Jerusalem gave me the old chill of 42 years ago (Whatever happened to Conrado San Martin?). Thring, Hatfield and Viveca Lindfors are predictably great. But who knew about Ron Randell's great talent? Or that Rip Torn could be so un-ironic?
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