Movie 11min

The Life And Passion Of Jesus Christ (1898)

Original title: La vie et la passion de Jésus-Christ

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Directors Louis Lumière , Georges Hatot
Country France
Language French
(Original) La vie et la passion de Jésus-Christ
(Alternative) Passion
(Theater) Lumière
Based on the Bible Biblical Drama Birth of Jesus Black and White Drama Flight to Egypt Healing Jesus Arrested Jesus Christ Jesus in Gethsemane Jesus Life Jesus Mocked and Flogged Short Silent Film St. Joseph St. Mary The Adoration of Infant Jesus The Betrayal by Judas The Burial of Jesus The Crucifixion The Gospel The Last Supper The Nativity The Raising of Lazarus The Resurrection The Trial Before Pilate The Two Thieves

The first preserved silent film about Jesus by Georges Hatot and Louis Lumière, and also the only one of the many Passion Plays that was filmed before 1900 to survive. It consists of 13 scenes, with no intertitles, filmed as if it was a preformed play with built static backdrops. It covers the life of Jesus from His birth to his death and resurrection.

13 Tableaux
The Adoration of the Magi (L’adoration des Mages)
Inside the manger, the Virgin watches over the baby Jesus. A slave comes to announce to Joseph, that he precedes the Kings led by the Star to the child-born. The entrance of the Three Kings, who come to prostrate themselves in front of the Nativity scene and to deposit at the foot of the Divine Child the gifts in homage which they brought with them.
The Flight into Egypt (La fuite en Égypte)
Joseph, leading the donkey carrying the Virgin and the child Jesus into the desert, stops at the foot of the Sphinx to spend the night there. After installing the Virgin, he wraps himself in his cloak and falls asleep. The Roman soldiers rush to seize the Virgin, but suddenly seeing the Sphinx, emblem of a divinity, they fall on their knees full of terror, while the awakened Joseph throws himself before them to protect the Virgin and her Child.
Arrival in Jerusalem (L’arrivée à Jérusalem)
A street in Jerusalem: on the left the palace of Herod. Arrival of Jesus Christ riding a donkey. The crowd shakes boughs as it passes, while the Apostles spread cloth under the feet of his mount. Herod, in a gesture of anger, bursts the jealousy he feels at the sight of Jesus' triumph. He asks Judas to deliver Christ to him, who blesses the crowd kneeling around him.
Betrayal of Judas (Trahison de Judas)
Interior of Herod's Palace. The entrance of Herod who sends Judas to his praetorium. The latter promises to deliver Christ in chains to Herod, who gives him a silver casket as the price of his treason. The exit of Judas on the last oath he takes to accomplish his dark plan.
Resurrection of Lazarus (Résurrection de Lazare)
Lazarus's corpse is brought on a stretcher. His grieving wife begged Christ to restore her husband to her. Jesus then goes to the corpse and pronounces these words: “Lazarus get up”. The corpse comes alive and the dead resuscitates in the midst of a crowd moved by this miracle and who prostrate themselves at the feet of the one who has just performed it.
The Lord's Supper (La cène)
The Apostles are gathered around the table when Christ suddenly appears. He divides the bread and the wine to them, saying: “Eat, drink, this is my body, this is my blood”. Judas, placed on his right then gives him a kiss, which attracts from Jesus these words: “Oh! my brothers, there is one of you who betrays me ”. Movement of surprise and indignation on the part of all the apostles who protest their fidelity, while one of them placed to the left of Jesus kisses him at the same time as Judas turns away from him.
The arrest of Jesus Christ (L’arrestation de Jésus-Christ)
Jesus, surrounded by Joseph, the Virgin, and Marie-Magdeleine, rests in the forest. He awakens to the sound of Herod's arrival accompanied by Judas. The latter designates to Herod the one he sold him. The entry of the soldiers who seize Jesus and chain him.
Flogging (La flagellation)
Christ is brought to Herod accompanied by Joseph and Marie-Magdeleine. Jesus is tied to the column placed in the center of the Praetorium, then, on Herod's order, a soldier strikes Christ for his refusal to answer the one who questions him. The Virgin and Mary Magdalene kiss the robe of Jesus while Joseph begs in vain for Herod's pity.
The Crown of Thorns (Le couronnement d’épines)
A soldier, by order of Herod, place a crown of thorns on Christ's forehead, while two other soldiers bring the cross which they force Jesus to take on, dragging him to the place where he is to be. to be crucified.
The Crucifixion (La mise en croix)
At the beginning of this painting, soldiers are busy crucifying two thieves condemned to be crucified alongside Jesus. Christ arrives loaded with his cross. He is stripped of his clothes and placed on the Cross.
The Calvary (Le calvaire)
Jesus is crucified between the two thieves. The one on the right joins his invectives to those of the soldiers who insult Christ by challenging him to deliver himself. On the contrary, the good thief on the left asks Jesus for consolation, assuring him of his piety and his faith. On the order of a leader, a soldier presents to Christ a sponge soaked in vinegar. Death of Christ who expires after a last look to the sky.
The Entombment (La mise au tombeau)
Jesus is detached from his cross by the soldiers, he is buried and placed in the Sepulcher, where the soldiers replace the stone on which the Virgin and Mary Magdalene come to prostrate.
The Resurrection (La résurrection)
The soldiers are assembled around the Tomb. A Roman leader reminds them that they answer him for the body of Jesus. The soldiers fall asleep around the sepulchral stone, and, the risen Jesus, lifts the stone and appears in the eyes of Marie-Magdeleine who was praying near the tomb.
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Gaston Bretteau - Jesus Christ
Alexandre Promio - Cinematography (Other)
Louis Lumière - Director
Georges Hatot - Director
Louis Lumière - Producer
Marcel Jambon - Production Design (Decorator)
Auguste Lumiere - Producer
A piece of cinema history

It's always exciting to sit down and go back 120 years to look at something they made in the early years of cinema. It was all pretty fresh and they were making history, and thus you can see some signs of early film tricks implemented, but mostly how limited the moviemakers were at that time. Also, the timeframe they had at the time was not very long, but still, they manage to insert a good few elements of the Jesus story here. We get to see the Nativity, a topic that later got explored in its own movies, the escape to Egypt, a few miracles, the last supper, agony in Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and not least, a slight glimpse of a resurrection in the end. I felt like I was looking at the events from afar with binoculars, also historically speaking.