Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1927. DeMille Pictures Corporation. Screenplay by Jeanie Macpherson. Cinematography by J. Peverell Marley. Produced by Cecil B. DeMille. Music by Hugo Riesenfeld. Production Design by Dan Sayre Groesback, Anton Grot, Julian Harrison, Edward C. Jewell. Costume Design by Adrian, Earl Luick, Gwen Wakeling. Film Editing by Anne Bauchens, Harold McLernon.
Films about the life of Christ were already a frequent focus of the medium when Cecil B. DeMille made this impressive blockbuster, but it would be safe to say that this is the first grand project on the subject. H.B. Warner is appropriately blond and lightning-eyed for the white Protestant crowd, as the Messiah whose last days are chronicled by the great showman’s camera, speaking to his followers, enjoying his Last Supper and suffering the pain of crucifixion before his miraculous resurrection. More memorable is the depiction of Mary Magdalene as the wanton mistress of the Romans, filmed in early Technicolour (as are some of the portions post-Crucifixion) with the kind of pomp that only DeMille could provide (she doesn’t just go looking for Judas…she goes looking for him while riding her zebra-pulled chariot). It is beautifully photographed (in either mono or multi-chrome) and has some moments of real power, a film well worth viewing even if the subject matter has no personal meaning for you.
The Criterion Collection: #266