“Come unto me — rejoice, and be exceeding glad! I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
After betrayal by his disciple, Judas Iscariot (Joseph Schildkraut), Jesus Christ (H.B. Warner) is crucified, but rises from his tomb three days later.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Ancient Greece and Rome
- Biblical Stories
- Cecil B. DeMille Films
- Historical Dramas
- Silent Films
Widely considered to be one of Cecil B. DeMille’s most successful epics, The King of Kings tells the familiar tale of Jesus’s final months — including his crucifixion and resurrection — with impressive flair and attention to detail. Despite a certain amount of creative interpretation (in the opening sequence, Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a jewel-bedecked courtesan traveling in a zebra-drawn chariot to rescue her lover, Judas Iscariot):
De Mille relies almost exclusively on quotes from Biblical scripture for his intertitles, and was notoriously concerned with maintaining an overall air of religious piety on his set. H.B. Warner was ultimately far too old to be playing the 33-year-old Jesus, but he manages to project an appropriate aura of serenity and strength, and quickly becomes acceptable in the role.
According to TCM’s article, “some 8 billion people” around the world have seen this classic silent film, “partly due to the Cinema Corporation’s policy of loaning the film to civic and religious groups for a small fee to help replace worn prints.” Indeed, “reportedly no week passes without The King of Kings playing in some corner of the world”, thus ensuring its permanent status in cinematic history.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Impressively grandiose set designs
- J. Peverell Marley’s luminous cinematography
- Mary Magdalene (Jacqueline Logan) fighting off the Seven Deadly Sins
- The dramatic crucifixion scene — surely terrifying to audiences of the day
Yes, for its historical relevance. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.
- Historically Relevant
- Important Director