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január 3, 2014 No Comments »

From the Manger to the Cross [1912]: Nagy sikerű némafilm a bibliai történetről. 1988-ban felkerült az amerikai Nemzeti Filmarchívumban a megőrzendő filmek listájára. (Brief Synopsis): The term “feature length film” is something of a slippery one. However, if one takes it to mean a film with a running time greater than an hour then it’s fair to say that From the Manger to the Cross, made in 1912, was the first feature length film about Jesus. Although the dating of Jesus films before this date is somewhat unclear, the vocabulary and techniques of the medium of film had moved on considerably in the 7 or so years since the release of The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ was released somewhere between 1902 and 1908. In particular, film-makers had begun to progress in their thinking from film being a novel form of side-show entertainment, to it being an extension of the theatre, and onto understanding it’s place as one of the visual arts.

Hence, whilst the film is still largely shot in middle distance, there are a few exceptions, and we also begin to see some more visually pleasing camera shots, with more interesting compositions. Take for example the shot captured above which shows the boy Jesus carrying a plank of wood for his father, inadvertently casting the silhouette of a cross on to the ground. Many consider Chinese shadow plays to be one of the forerunners of cinema, so there is something here of things coming full circle. Elsewhere we see a greater understanding of depth of focus as Jesus enters the shot below from back of the focus field, rather than the front as was more usual. The composition is far more pleasing than anything in earlier Jesus films. Jesus remains the focus of the shot, as we follow the disciples’ gaze towards him, and the skyline “points” towards him…

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