1. THE ANNUNCIATION. The Angel of the Lord appears to Mary, announcing the birth of a child, which shall be called the "Son of God." 2. THE STRANGE STAR. Led by the light of the strange new...
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At the royal court, a prince is presenting the princess whom he is pledged to marry, when a witch suddenly appears. Though driven off, the witch soon returns, summons some of her servants, ... See full summary »
Depicting well-known incidents in the life of Jesus Christ, this milestone of early cinema won world fame, huge audiences and a screen life of decades when most secular films of the time measured their commercial life in weeks.
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1. THE ANNUNCIATION. The Angel of the Lord appears to Mary, announcing the birth of a child, which shall be called the "Son of God." 2. THE STRANGE STAR. Led by the light of the strange new star, the three wise men of the East journey to Bethlehem in search of the holy child, whose birth has been foretold to them. They are followed by a large retinue of servants and a train of camels, donkeys, sheep, etc., forming in all an impressive caravan. 3. THE ADORATION OF THE WISE MEN. The wise men and the shepherds enter the lowly stable and kneel at the feet of Mary, who holds in her arms the new-born babe. Joseph stands near and watches the touching scene. 4. FLIGHT INTO EGYPT. Through the lonely Egyptian desert Mary and Joseph flee to a place of safety to preserve the life of the infant Jesus. Arriving at the famous Sphinx, Mary finds shelter for the night, while Joseph collects wood for the fire. 5. JESUS AND THE DOCTORS. The doctors and sages are engaged in a learned discussion, when ... Written by
I have always been fascinated by silent films. There is something about seeing actors and actresses from 100 years ago performing. Jaded by today's high-tech special effects, I always try and imagine what it was like to watch a particular film at the time of it's original release. It helps to appreciate the crudeness of early cinema.
"The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ" is a very charming production from Pathe, originally filmed in 1902, but expanded and finally released in 1905. Imagine a series of famous religious paintings coming to life, separated by title cards, and you will have a pretty good idea of what this film is like. For example, the scene in which Mary and Joseph rest as they are escaping to Egypt, is almost identical to Luc Olivier Merson's 1879 painting "Rest on the Flight to Egypt", right down to Mary sitting on the famous Sphinx. While some might find these "living paintings" an unimaginative cop-out, I found them to be very charming, and very nostalgic.
The sets and costumes appear to be right out of a stage production of the life of Christ. Possibly from and elaborate passion play of the day. The make-up on the cast is very theatrical, so much so that a close-up of Jesus is almost comical. Again, where others might be bothered by the cudeness of them, I was quite charmed.
Having been filmed over a period of 3 years, the continuity isn't too bad. The biggest flaws are in the casting changes made over that time. The characters of John the Apostle and the 12 year old Jesus change in mid scene, much to the audiences surprise!
The best unintentional humor, of the film, is in the Birth of Jesus scene. The baby LITERALLY appears, as if by magic, in the manger between Mary and Joseph. Maybe it was simply my frame of mind at the time I viewed it, but I laughed out loud! If only child birth were that easy!!!! To top it off, the actress who plays Mary looks bored through the whole scene (actually, through the whole movie), as if this sort of thing happens every day! My, how times have changed!
As simplistic as this film is, compared to today, it's really a wonderful window into the past. I recommend it!
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