King of Kings

Screening on Film
Directed by Nicholas Ray.
With Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Ryan, Hurd Hatfield.
US, 1961, 35mm, color, 168 min.
Print source: George Eastman House

Ray brilliantly downplays the epic nature of this Biblical tale, approaching the life of Jesus – played with an understated naturalism by Jeffrey Hunter – with a personal touch that offers a stark contrast to the more bloated, reverential Biblical epics of the era. A major influence on Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ, King avoids presenting Jesus’ actions as a series of empty spectacles, bringing a much-needed sense of realism and simplicity to the story and incorporating a metaphorical use of natural elements and color schemes that complements the allegorical nature of his source material while recalling the religious motifs in Ray’s 1950s masterworks, especially Rebel Without a Cause and Bigger Than Life.

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Nicholas Ray. Hollywood's Last Romantic

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