1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The life and death of Jesus from a political perspective
The 1961 remake of "King of Kings" (it was originally a 1927 silent film) is the most political of the Hollywood epics on the life of Jesus, a genre that would include "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and "Jesus of Nazareth" but not "The Last Temptation of Christ" or "The Passion of the Christ." By "political" I mean that...
Published on April 11 2004 by Lawrance Bernabo
3.0 out of 5 stars But it DID seem profound and accurate in the 1960s
With all the memories that I have of viewing this film (on television) each Holy Week in the 1960s, it remains a popcorn and Milk Duds guilty pleasure in which I annually indulge. Most baby boomers would love to have this one on their shelves, though, be forewarned - if one has not viewed it for a time, the elements of accuracy, adherence to scriptural texts, and power...
Published on Aug. 15 2001 by Elizabeth G. Melillo
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The life and death of Jesus from a political perspective,
The 1961 remake of "King of Kings" (it was originally a 1927 silent film) is the most political of the Hollywood epics on the life of Jesus, a genre that would include "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and "Jesus of Nazareth" but not "The Last Temptation of Christ" or "The Passion of the Christ." By "political" I mean that Jesus is born into what is clearly a political world. The film begins with Pompey the Great, the Roman conqueror of Israel, profaning the Temple. The Jews are presented as an enslaved people, put to work in quarries to produce the stone for Roman monuments, making it seem like we are covering the same ground as "The Ten Commandments." Herod the Great is presented as being an Arab who is installed as the "King of the Jews" and who crucifies hundreds of his rebellious subjects.
Pilate (Hurd Hatfield) is apparently married to the daughter of the Emperor Tiberius, and therefore has aspirations of becoming the next Caesar. Pilate and Herod Antipas (Frank Thring), along with their wives, apparently eat dinner together every night. "King of Kings" also has the distinction of having the biggest battle scene in a movie about Jesus as the men of Barabbas (Harry Guardino), pointedly called patriots and not zealots, attack a column of Roman centurions. At one point Pilate asks, "How many men does he have?" The centurion replies, "God, Jesus or Barabbas?" "Barabbas," answers Pilate. The Jews are clearly a political problem for the Roman procurator, who is offended that Jerusalem is bedecked with statues of the Roman gods.
When I watched this film again today it seemed clear to me that screenwriter Philip Yordan is not happy with the story found in the Gospels and keeps creating new scenes. John the Baptist (Robert Ryan) goes to see Mary (Siobhan McKenna) and Jesus goes to visit John in prison (so much for the rather sobering idea that the only time these two cousins ever met was when John baptized Jesus). John argues for Jesus to go to Jerusalem at the start of his ministry, and when Jesus chooses a different path, John goes instead, making it really easy for Herod Atipas to arrest him. Meanwhile, Mary is overly resistant to her son beginning his ministry; no doubt this is intended to be foreshadowing of the death of Jesus, but it does reflect poorly on her faith (compared this to the powerful portrayal of Mary in Mel Gibson's film or the serene faith of the mother of Jesus in "Jesus of Nazareth").
In many ways this film does not trust Jeffrey Hunter with the role of Jesus that he is playing. Many of the miracles are done with heavenly music playing and often Orson Welles narration (written by an uncredited Ray Bradbury) takes great pains to tell us what we are seeing (Welles has a curious habit of pronouncing all of the letters if the word "apostle"). I do not think Jesus says anything before he saves the adulteress with the wonderful first stone criteria. But then this film does a complete about face and lets Hunter do what I think is the longest segment in one of these films concerning the Sermon on the Mount.
Ultimately, this is the pivotal scene of "King of Kings." The key thing is that this is a Jesus who comes down from the Mount to walk amongst the people and talk more directly to them. Hunter does have a few good moments, where he clearly comes across as trying to persuade the multitude to be righteous instead of just preaching platitudes. This is a Jesus who is trying to relate, which results in a curious juxtaposition of a Sixties "cool" Jesus and a political climate reflecting a Fifties "Cold War" mentality.
This film was produced at the start of the Sixties, so Jesus is not really being portrayed as a hippie, but the long hair is certainly there. Hunter's natural stare has an inherent element of rebuke in it, so it is not like this Jesus is any type of hippie. The attempt at a more naturalistic delivery by Jesus does work at times during the Sermon, and it is the one scene that justifies watching this epic. Hunter's performance also stands out in comparison to those of his disciplines, where neither Royal Dano as Peter or a young Rip Torn as Judas distinguish themselves in any way; Pilate and Herod Antipas are the two most interesting characters in the film, set up because for this film the crucifixion of Jesus is clearly a political act.
It was explained to me once how each of the four Gospels has a different perspective on the life of Jesus and essentially a different purpose. In looking at the major films made about the life of Jesus you can probably make a similar claim. Of those films, "King of Kings" with its heavy political themes becomes the easiest one to so label.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars YOU FUNDAMENTALISTS MAKE ME SICK,
By A Customer
I just got done watching my newly acquired dvd of KING OF KINGS.So I decided to go online to write a review.And like always I read other reviews as not to repeat what others have already said.To my shock and disgust I'm hit with one berating after another.READ THE NEXT SECTION LIKE A WHINEY FIRST GRADER: ("That didn't happen in the bible" "This didn't happen in the bible"I'm gonna tell!) That's what you fundamentally retarded people sound like.I can care less about SO CALLED SCRIPTURAL ACCURACIES.If that's so important to you watch your lame copy of JESUS W/Brian Deacon.Wow! badly portraying word for word what's in the bible. You're absolutely right! That is the way to go. Conveying a message and emotional connection are far more important to me.All 4 gospels total approximately 200 pages (give or take the size of the print).Hardly a dent in the life of a 33 year old man.I sure am glad you stopped the movie as not ruin your childrens' thinking. They'll make great document lawyers.I'm done with likes of you. NOW I WRITE TO THE TRUE CHRISTIANS,The ones that believe with their hearts, not a KING JAMES six gun.I bought this disc about a week ago.While (Jesus of Nazareth) is my favorite and (The Greatest Story Ever Told) is a close second,this movie has an untouchable magic of it's own.Sure they spent a little too much time on Barabbas,and Robert Ryan's portrayal of John the baptist is no better than a cold reading, as if he's seen the script for the first time.Or any thing else you want to nitpik about.But the score is wonderful and so many moments will force tears from your eyes,if you only relax yourself into movie.If you contemplate getting this DVD I strongly suggest that you do.The picture is remastered nicely and the sound is very fulfilling,bonus features;not much, total less than 10 minues.Even if you have a personal recording from TCM like I do. Get the disc.It offers you an even more panoramic view not shown on Turner Classic Movies.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Movie About the Life of Jesus!,
This review is from: King of Kings (VHS Tape)
I taped and watched the 1927 silent movie The King of Kings a few nights ago on Turner Classic movies and today I saw the 1961 remake and I liked both movies. My favorite movie about Jesus is still Jesus of Nazareth in which Robert Powell gave a wonderful performance as Jesus but I also think Jeffrey Hunter was very good as Jesus and I'm glad that I finally watched this movie version. I didn't think I was going to like this movie because of all of the negetive reviews I read complaining about the movie and Jeffrey Hunter and saying things like he was to blond and looked like a blond surfer dude playing Jesus, well I didn't think his hair looked all that blond and looked more like light brown to but that's besides the point and I just really didn't have any major problems with this movie and now count it as one of my favorite movies about Jesus and I very greatly recommend it. The only reason I give this 4 stars instead of 5 is because I thought they could have done a better job with the resurrecion and ascension scenes which I thought were done better in other Jesus movies including the 1927 Cecil B. Demille version of King of Kings but anyway besides the minor complaint I liked this 1961 movie and I just taped it from TCM today on Easter Sunday and someday I might buy the DVD.
2.0 out of 5 stars Moving but Inaccurate,
By A Customer
I first saw King of Kings on TV a few years ago and I find it quite an interesting film. With a superb score and narration from Orson Welles Nicholas Ray tries to tie his major charachters together but sadly in doing so he almost fictionalises the story. Jefferey Hunter is good but only in patches and at times looks uncomfortable with his role, this goes for the whole film. Pilate is played well but the Baptist played by Robert Ryan is terrible while the apostles are nobodies and act as such. The political landscape is described accuratly at the beginning but decends into farce with Herod, Pilate and Caiphas plotting together to kill Jesus - NOT TRUE. These three all despised each other and would never had sat in a room together. The scenes involving Christ, except for the sermon on the mount are at times rushed as Ray wishes to get back to Barrabas who rises from a minor detail of the Gospels to some kind of historical leader while Jesus becomes increasingly oblivious to all that is going on, I mean Jesus just shuts himself up in the Temple while Barrabbas starts a full scale rebellion. The passion is quite moving but the sight of Hunter's clean shaven chest and armpits is quite strange and in the end it all looks a bit unreal. The ressurection scene is then rushed through terribly and looks something like a dream or hallucination. Nevertheless an interesting look at the Gospel story but definately through holywood eyes.
4.0 out of 5 stars Jeffery Hunter as "Jesus",
This review is from: King of Kings (VHS Tape)
I have never seen this film before. My favorite is JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977). I am just about to sit down (with popcorn) and enjoy King of Kings starring Jeffery Hunter as "Jesus". You may recall Jeffery Hunter on VHS video or a syndicated television special of the never-before-seen Star Trek pilot, THE CAGE. Here is my review: Narrated by Orson Welles. The film begins with some 33 years before Jesus was born. Caesar overtaking a kingdom. Finding the scrolls that Moses had written laying atop a valuable piece of metal. Caesar appointing Herod, and then Joseph the carpenter and Mary finding a place for Jesus the baby to be easily born. I was impressed with this version. Easy to follow and easy to watch. Still in this 2 hours and 50 minutes film, so many important details and miracles of Jesus were not filmed. I'm sure that Jesus did not wear a zippered red jacket and there were no buttons in the back of clothing back then, but that's Hollywood. Don't let this distract you from enjoying this fine movie. This is a good film for children to watch. There is no nudity, no offensive things and no medical procedures that will be said here. But as always, the Crucifixion is hard to watch. This version does include when Jesus was arisen and visiting his diciples though not filmed in detail. Movie includes Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte, End Music.
4.0 out of 5 stars Generally effective adaptation of the Gospels,
Samuel Bronston's production of "King of Kings" is a generally satisfying "epic" based on the life of Jesus. Not as elaborate as 1965's "The Greatest Story Ever Told," but not as boring either.
Directed by Nicholas Ray, the auteur behind "Rebel Without A Cause" and "Johnny Guitar," it was controversial at the time of its 1961 release with some critics finding it blasphemous (the very characteristic that would likely earn it praise today), apparently because the miracles are presented with a certain subtlety, a quality not generally associated with a genre mastered by Cecil B. DeMille. This is not a thorough adaptation of the Gospels, and far below the standards of the later "Jesus of Nazareth," but it is respectful and generally well-done.
The late Jeffrey Hunter makes for a very charismatic Jesus. Then 33 years-old, the same age as Jesus at the crucifixion, Hunter gives a sincere performance, one that didn't warrant the "Teenage Jesus" charge popular at the time. The unjustified pans his performance received did seem to have a negative impact on his career, with the actor turning to TV as the star of the Jack Webb produced "Temple Houston" only a year or two later). Robert Ryan, usually cast as psychotics and killers, gives some appropriate muscle to John the Baptist.
Orson Welles narrates from a script to which Ray Bradbury contributed. Miklos Rosza's score is superb and inspiring, the best thing about the film.
4.0 out of 5 stars KING OF KINGS,
As soneone who grew up in the era of the widescreen, epic Biblical dramas, I am pleased that the DVD process preserves the quality of the original negatives and soundtracks. KING OF KINGS looks and sounds terrific. In the linear notes to the CD of the exciting Miklos Rozsa score, it states that, when completed, "this film was a mess." There was no structure, just a lot of disjointed footage. So a narrator was used to tie scenes together. Thankfully that narrator was Orson Welles, who adds a wonderful, if originally unplanned, quality. Today the narrator would probably be James Earl Jones. Because of the fictional character of the Roman officer, Lucius, played by Ron Randell, who is supposed to represent the Gentile world's reaction to Jesus, time is lost for more intimate scenes between Jesus and his Disciples. This lack gives us, therefore, only a cursury view of Jesus. As far as history is concerned, there is one glaring mistake. In the beginning, Herod's son, Herod Antipas, is seen taking his father's throne. In reality, Antipas's brother, another of Herod's sons, took the throne for ten years. Antipas was never more than the ruler of Galilee. The "trial before Pilate" scene also lacks emotion depth, as it takes place among only three participants: Jesus, Pilate and Lucius; where are the famous crowds? Martin Scorsese did a more complete attempt at an intimate look at the life of Jesus with THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. KING OF KINGS also seems to me to have a bright and shinning look to it and makes the ancient world seem less dirty and dingy than it probably was. In the end, however, if we are talking about simple preservation of motion picture history, then the telecine and audio artists who created this DVD are to be applauded.
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Jesus Movie,
I've seen them all, and have most of them: Zeffirelli's JESUS OF NAZARETH, Pasolini's GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MATTHEW, the JESUS movie (Campus Crusade for Christ), both versions of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, the Visual Bible MATTHEW, FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS (silent), that wretched TV movie JESUS with Jeremy Sisto, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, etc., etc. And BEN-HUR (which is sort of a Jesus movie).
KING OF KINGS is the best (but the claymation THE MIRACLE MAKER is excellent, too) of them all, in my opinion (and that's what this review is, right?). I've seen it twice now, and though it has its flaws and some things I'd like done differently, its weaving of subplots into the gospel story works very well and makes it MOTION PICTURE ENTERTAINMENT and not just a flat retelling of the Gospels event-by-event.
It's truly a great and well-done movie, and the DVD print quality and Technicolor colors are outstanding, a joy to watch. The sound/score could be more dramatic (it's DD 5.1, but not very spectacular), but it's decent. A few more extras would be nice, too. But I bought this for the movie, not the extras, and this DVD is worth every penny it cost me.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Film But Still Missing Scenes from Original Release,
By A Customer
The DVD is visually beautiful! The letterbox framing and the cinematography return it to the manner in which it should be seen. My only disappointment is that there is still at least one scene missing from the original theatrical release. The particular scene I'm talking about is the one where Joseph hits the Roman (whose name escapes me at this time) over the head with a club after Jesus' birth so they can escape to Egypt. Later, when Jesus is twelve years old and the census man (the same Roman Joseph struck!) shows up, he questions Mary and Joseph as to why the boy is not registered in the census. When Mary tells him he was born twelve years ago in Bethlehem, there is a very tense moment while the Roman recalls being knocked out in the stable. Without the scene in which Joseph strikes him, the Roman's tense moment of recall is pointless. I have the original Dell comic book version of the movie and this missing scene is in the comic book. Why did they leave it out? The music is moving. I would recommend purchasing it!
5.0 out of 5 stars the definitive "King of Kings",
I first bought "king of Kings" in 1984 (VHS) when it was new to video.
There was no widescreen presentations in those days and so the
video was good. Then came several more releases which were similar to the first,this time Dolby encoded. The laser disc came next and then the first letterboxed edition. I was disappointed because the sound was still not up to par and the
apect ratio was incorrect for a 70mm production.
Thank you Warner Bros and George Feltenstein imparticular for
finally presenting "King of Kings" as it was meant to be seen,
with 2.35:1 aspect ratio (the correct one) and 5.1 Dolby Digital
The transfer is state of the art, probably one of the finest in
short life of the DVD medium. The Technicolor is bright and clear as if you were watching the film in the theatre. There is
no grain in the film .One couldn't ask for a better presentation of any film. Goes hand in hand with the fully restored complete film score on Rhino/ Turner Classic Movie Music
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King of Kings [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français) [Import] by Nicholas Ray (Blu-ray - 2011)
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