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The King of Kings


XBergmanX
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The Kings of Kings, from Cecil B. Mille, is without doubt, in my mind, the greatest telling of the life of Jesus Christ. It had a lot of things going for it. Things that were probably De Mille's own interpretation of the life of Christ but it spoke great truth to me.

 

The first. I very much admired the fact, that the apostle Mark was played by a child. Whoever the boy was that played him, brought a lot of power and beauty to the whole story. Like most films that deal with Christ, the use of a child has always been a sure fire way to tug at everyone's strings. De Mille not only does that. He uses this character through out the entire film. Even when Mark is not the focus, he is always there and your belief in his character leads to a stronger belief in Christ Himself.

 

The Second. As with all of De Mille's films, The King of Kings packs some brilliant visual effects. From the lighting to the brilliant masking of the screen,.for artistic emphises. Every frame is a sight to behold. Lastly on the visual aspect, It's impossible for anyone to deny how brilliant this shot was, When Christ casts the 7 deadly sins out of Mary. Even by today's standards, I found it to be an impressive achivement. It is proof of the amazing things that can be done with what we would now call, simple tricks, angles and lighting.

 

The Third. The only way to truly convey what Christ said in the Bible, is to quote him word for word. De Mille does this. Brilliantly mixing and matching the teachings in the four gospels to progress the plot and drama of the stroy. The titles/ scriptures De Mille used is what impressed me as far as Mark's character. When you read everything Mark did say about the life of Christ, it does seem to me, that most of what he spoke of was very much more innocent and open minded the the other gospels. It speaks of things on a more human scale. Where the true teacher is one who will preach to all that will listen, not just the rich and learned and pure. All the titles, be they from the gospels or of De Milles making, bring inspiration and truth to this great film.

 

The fouth, and I'm not sure who to attribute this to, was the brilliant score that acompanied this film. As silent films are remastered, restored and rescored their availablity and enjoyment grow ever increasing. I was torn at first over rescoring a lot of these films. That was until I saw movies like The king of Kings and Cyrano de Bergerac and Michael. I think what Hollywood is doing with these silent treasures is remarkable and important to not only their survival but the survival of all the worlds films from the beginning to the future.

 

One thing I do know, that is an interesting fact, is that, I do believe this was the first film ever to premere at Grauman's Chinese Theater. The beginning of a great legacy and rightfully so.

 

We film fans certainly owe TCM and especially Robert Osbourne a vote of thanks for keeping TCM what it is. It has never fallen in my eyes and it has never sold out to the commercial side of the TV industry. Something I admire greatly. I think they are the last of their kind and I hope they will continue, as they have, for decades to come. I am always looking for good chat about movies. Anyone who wants to comment on my reviews can email me at bjcrum@msn.com

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Please note, Actually, the brilliant musical score to THE KING OF KINGS that you allude to, or at least as aired on TCM, is the Vintage Hugo Riesenfeld arrangement from the 1928 re-issue. I have seen this film with two other scores, and the vintage score is vastly superior to the two recent efforts by Donald Sousin, and Timothy J. Tikker. I did not much care for either of them.

 

Fortunately, A definitive DVD is available from Criterion that contains all three scores, plus the newly restored 1927 original release of the film. This runs about 40 minutes longer, than the shortened 1928, cut. I like the film even better in it's entirety. I only wish the vintage score was found throughout.

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I enjoyed this film very much as well, and am glad that TCM showed it earlier this month (surprising that it's not scheduled to air in December!). In addition to your thoughts, I'd like to add that I think the fact that the resurrection scenes were done in color also added to the film.

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Thank you so much for the info. It makes the showing that much more impressive now. I didn't know that about the Criterion edition. I will have to make it a priority. Also, I thought I heard something about a scandal involving the actor who played Christ. To my knowledge C.B. De Mille had the whole thing brushed under the carpet. Do you know if there is any truth to this?

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I agree very much. They really give him great presence. I was also very impressed by the scenes immediately following the crucifixion. I too was impressed by the color in this. In fact I have been with most of the color enhancing I've seen on the TCM silent's. They definitely add to the mood and the character of the film.

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Interestingly enough, the opening sequence featuring Mary Magdalene, was also filmed and originally released in Technicolor as well. For some reason the sound re-edit does not present the same take, and it was changed to black and white? The restored 1927 release found on the Criterion two-disc set, does showcase the Technicolor version of this scene once again! So lucky for us, it still exist?s!

 

Some footage however, has been lost "Jesus Entering The Gates of Jerusalem", or ?The Palm Sunday? sequence, sadly is missing from all surviving prints of this film.

 

I only wish Paramount would re-store De Mille's original 1923 version of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS while this can still be done! That landmark Silent should be made available on DVD. It has rarely been shown on Television, at least in the United States, last airing on AMC in 1996, I believe? Frustratingly, I misssed it then, and still have not seen this film anywhere else!

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Rejoice, gagman! Paramount will release the 1923 version of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS as an extra on its 50th anniversary release of the 1956 remake next year. I think that's the first of Paramount's silent films to see an official DVD release. Let's hope it's the first of many!

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Wow, that is indeed surprising, and unexpected news! I am very happy to hear something is finally being done with the Paramount Silent's library. However, I am somewhat skeptical of how good the presentation will be? I hope the film will be re-mastered, and given an appropriate musical score? Where did you read about this, by the way? Were any additional details provided?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've seen this on several websites now, so it seems to be official. Release date is March 21, 2006. I don't know anything other details yet, but I hope they include the Gaylord Carter organ score that was on the VHS release.

 

By the way, gagman, did you know that Harold Lloyd was in the publicity footage included with KING OF KINGS on Criterion?

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