Siegmund Lubin directed a series of 31 short films in 1898 when he understood the popularity of the two previous Passion Play films had in the United States. He decided he could do it better and claimed to make a more close reenactment of the real Oberammergau play(instead of simply making a dupe of the Edison film). Apparently, he directed the movie in his backyard, building backdrops that moved in the wind and engaging family, friends, and neighbors as actors(who subsequently could be found drunk at the time of filming). It was a hasty production, with sometimes very bad quality shots, but it became very popular. Lubin sent copies to convents, missions, and prisons for free(together with viewing equipment) to spread the film. The end result had a length of around 60 minutes and totaled 6300 feet of film. In the 1903 magazine, however, the film was shortened and edited down to 3700 feet. By then he had also engaged 25 artists for over one year to color the film by hand. The content of the film focused much more on the life of Jesus containing many episodes not represented in the other plays.
The Passion Play (1898)
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(Original) The Passion Play Series
(Alternative) The Passion Play of Oberammergau
(Alternative) The Life of Christ
CategoriesBaptism of Jesus Based on the Bible Biblical Drama Birth of Jesus Black and White Drama Entry into Jerusalem Feeding Five Thousand Flight to Egypt Herod Antipas Herod Kills the Children Herod the Great Jesus and the Children Jesus Arrested Jesus' Ascension Jesus Christ Jesus in Gethsemane Jesus Life Jesus Miracles John the Baptist Lecture Passion Play Salome Samaritan Woman Shepherds in the Field Short Silent Film St. Joseph St. Mary Story of Zacchaeus The Annunciation The Betrayal by Judas The Burial of Jesus The Crucifixion The Last Supper The Passion The Raising of Lazarus The Ressurection The Road to Golgotha The Temptation of Jesus The Transfiguration The Trial Before Pilate DramaShortBaptism of Jesus, Based on the Bible, Biblical Drama, Birth of Jesus, Black and White, Entry into Jerusalem, Feeding Five Thousand, Flight to Egypt, Herod Antipas, Herod Kills the Children, Herod the Great, Jesus and the Children, Jesus Arrested, Jesus' Ascension, Jesus Christ, Jesus in Gethsemane, Jesus Life, Jesus Miracles, John the Baptist, Lecture, Passion Play, Salome, Samaritan Woman, Shepherds in the Field, Silent Film, St. Joseph, St. Mary, Story of Zacchaeus, The Annunciation, The Betrayal by Judas, The Burial of Jesus, The Crucifixion, The Last Supper, The Passion, The Raising of Lazarus, The Ressurection, The Road to Golgotha, The Temptation of Jesus, The Transfiguration, The Trial Before Pilate
The 31 films in the series
All the 31 parts in the series filmed about the life of Jesus.
In this Film Mary is seen seated at a rough table in deep meditation. The angel appears at her side coming slowly over with outstretched arms and announcing that she had "found favor with God" and that she should give birth to a son whom she should call "Jesus." After blessing Mary, the angel, with outstretched wings, slowly departs and Mary disappears within her humble abode.
Shepherds Watching Their Flocks by Night
This scene represents the plains near the city and opens with the shepherds guarding their flocks, as the youthful David did a thousand years before. Suddenly the angel appears by their sides. Alarmed, they stand silent. The angel bids them dismiss their fears, telling them that the Messiah is born, and of the sign by which they shall recognize him. Suddenly a throng of celestial beings is grouped near by. Slowly the group withdraws and the Shepherds, guided by a star in the East, start for Bethlehem as the scene closes.
The Birth of Christ
At the manger inside a stable, Mary sits holding the newborn babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Beside her are Joseph and their faithful ass. The three wise men from the East appear, worshipping the infant Jesus and offering gifts.
Flight Into Egypt
Joseph hurries from the dominions of Herod while Jesus is still a babe, seeking refuge in Egypt, where fully a million of Jews then found a home. Mary, carrying the child Jesus, seats herself upon a rock on the road side, a vision of peaceful surroundings is manifest. As the vision disappears, Joseph is seen leading the way, pointing forward as they renew their journey.
Massacre of the Innocents
Herod's terrible vengeance is here shown. This particular scene shows a large number of people who had gathered together, outside of Bethlehem, hoping to flee from the wrath of the wicked king. In the foreground are seen mothers with their babes as the soldiers enter with drawn swords. One poor woman whose infant is slaughtered before her face stands bewildered. As the cruel soldiers advance they are seen hurriedly trying to escape from the spot.
Christ in the Carpenter Shop
Joseph is here seen at work, when Mary slowly comes down the side path leading to the exterior workshop. As she sits, unnoticed by Joseph, the child Jesus, then twelve years old, lightly follows after her, carrying a small cross, which he drops and kneels at her feet. As she caresses him, Joseph turns and kisses him. Mary and Jesus depart and shortly after Joseph lays aside his implements and follows them.
Baptism of Jesus
In this scene John the Baptist, a strong, stern man, rugged in character and rude in dress, stands within the river Jordan, surrounded by numerous people. Christ appears in the distance and walks solemnly to John. John does not recognize Jesus at first. They walk together in the water. Jesus is sprinkled in baptism. Then there appears a recognition of Jesus. John falls upon his face before Him, and the throng does likewise. Jesus then comes up out of the water, and as all bow before Him, He prays fervently as the scene closes.
Herodias Pleads for John the Baptist's Head. Salome's Dance Before Herod. Death of John the Baptist.
Salome, the beautiful daughter of Herodias, is here seen dancing before King Herod. At the right stands Herodias, who has sworn to achieve the death of John the Baptist for his rebuke of her incestuous marriage with Herod Antipas. The drunken monarch offers her whatsoever she may request. Her mother is seen instructing her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. The slave is seen bringing the ghastly head of John, which Salome passes to her mother, who seizes it with delight and hideously laughs over the gory trophy.
Christ Tempted by the Devil
Having gone to fast and pray, Jesus is deep in prayer when Satan appears and with a diabolical look asks Jesus to fall down and worship him. Christ points upward then turns to Satan and motions him to get hence. An animated dialogue ensues and Jesus triumphs over Satan, who turns and skulks away.
Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
The Woman of Samaria is here seen coming to the well to draw water. Seating herself on the edge of the well she looks around and beholds Jesus, who, after gazing on her for a moment seats Himself on the ground at her feet and converses with her after which He departs.
Christ in the Synagogue
This picture shows the interior of the Synagogue and the congregation entering and taking their respective places. Jesus enters and discourses the word of God with them, behooving them to be righteous and to serve their Master. He leaves them awe-struck with his wonderful sermon.
Christ and Disciples Plucking Corn
This picture shows the disciples in the midst of a large field of corn, each of whom is plucking and eating. The animation is perfect, and the movement of each of the disciples is shown in true representation. Jesus is seen to enter the field. He crosses in front of the disciples and raises both his arms to Heaven, which is seen in the foreground making a most striking tableau.
Christ Calling Zaccheus from the Tree
For this scene the multitude is watching Christ, who appears with His disciples on the road to Jericho. Zaccheus, a very small man, tries to look over the heads of the people and finding it impossible, climbs into the branches of a tree. Christ sees him and asks him to come down. Zaccheus does so and crosses to Jesus. After the animated dialogue between Jesus and Zaccheus, Jesus takes his arm and, followed by the disciples, they pass on.
Christ Feeding the Multitude
In this scene a great throng of people--men, women and children--is discovered sitting upon a plain. Christ comes from the far end of the scene, passing through the multitude as all reverently rise. The disciples bring out five loaves and two fishes. Christ motions all to be seated. Then, blessing the food, He sends the disciples among the multitude, and all eat. The scene closes with the disciples gathering up the remains in large baskets.
Suffer Little Children to Come Unto Me
A large multitude is here shown as Jesus and His disciples pass by. In the foreground of the scene are numerous women and children, and, as Christ passes them, He halts and takes the little ones up and blesses them. As Jesus passes from the scene the multitude is shown following Him with animated reverence, showing the entire multitude in motion.
Christ Healing the Sick
As Christ comes upon the scene, He is surrounded by a large multitude of people. There appears before Him a man hobbling upon a crutch. He appeals to Jesus, who at once blesses him and the man throws away his crutch. Immediately there comes to Jesus a blind man. Christ reaches down, takes a bit of earth, spits upon it and places it upon the man's eyes. Animated dialogue ensues and the man seeing, walks away.
Raising of Lazarus
The tomb of Lazarus is seen here with Martha and Mary Magdalene, surrounded by relatives and friends, who are mourning the death of Lazarus. The group is apart from the sepulcher as Jesus and His disciples are seen passing by. Mary and Martha, with animated dialogue, beseech Jesus to restore Lazarus to life. Christ is seen crossing to the tomb, and by a motion to two of His disciples the sepulcher is opened and Jesus bids Lazarus to "come forth." Lazarus is seen to rise up from the tomb and come forth in his winding sheet.
Christ comes upon the mount with disciples James, Peter, and John, who lie down as Christ engages in prayer. The vision of Moses and Elijah is seen as the disciples awake. They fall upon their faces as the vision disappears. Christ lays his hands upon them and they go off, followed by the other disciples, who are apart from Jesus and likewise resting upon the Earth.
The Messiah's Entry Into Jerusalem
Christ is here seen entering into Jerusalem. As He rides between the files of soldiers guarding the city entrance, e is followed by His disciples and a multitude of people of all ages who are waving palms and crying "Hosanna." Passing under one of the great archways leading to the city, where a Messianic demonstration was about to be made, a large number of people have joined the procession now seen passing on toward the scene of action.
The Last Supper
Christ is here seen at the table, with the disciples seated right and left. Before continuing with the supper, Christ washes the feet of His disciples. Rising from feet washing, He resumes His place at the table and the supper proceeds. The animation throughout this picture is symbolical and the effect is particularly sublime.
Agony in the Garden
Jesus appears, and kneeling at the foot of a large rock, He prays for the sins of the world. An angel suddenly appears in the background and attracted by the holy light He turns and beholds it. After gazing on each other the angel disappears, Jesus resumes His prayer and finally goes His way.
Judas' Betrayal and the Messiah's Arrest
Christ stands with His disciples apart from Him, excepting three who lie upon the ground near him as He prays. Judas is seen to look about among the trees and then stride forward and kiss Jesus. Malchus, at the head of a guard of soldiers, orders two of them to advance, Jesus is seized. He surrenders and is dragged away, followed by His disciples.
Christ Before the Two High Priests
Caiaphas, the high priest then in office, and a fellow priest are here seen in animated dialogue as Jesus is led before them for condemnation. The rabble beseech the high priests to condemn Jesus, who stands meek and lowly. The priests are seen to order Jesus taken before Pilate. A scene of disgraceful conduct towards Jesus here ensues and Christ is dragged off.
Christ Before King Herod
In this picture you see a servant of Herod approach his throne, and after some conversation Herod orders Christ to be brought before him. His accusers give evidence and on the strength of this Christ is ordered to appear before Pilate.
Christ Before Pilate and the Condemnation
Pilate is seated upon his throne. Christ, still in the hands of the infuriated mob, is dragged before this hater of the Jewish leaders, who would, if possible, release Him. The action here shows that Pilate unwillingly sentences Jesus. He washes his hands saying: "I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man; see ye to it." The populace then revile Jesus, crown Him with thorns and array Him in "gorgeous apparel." He is dragged off for the crucifixion.
Carrying the Cross
This scene exhibits the infuriated cortege on the way to the place of crucifixion. Simon of Cyrene, who has assisted Jesus in bearing the cross, is compelled to leave the entire burden to Christ. Jesus, weary and suffering from loss of blood, staggers and falls under the burden.
Jesus is rudely reviled by the excited Jews and is seized and laid upon the cross, where He is nailed, hands and feet, to the rough timber, ready to raise it in Crucifixion. The cross is then raised, and Christ is seen between the other crosses, upon which are hanging the two thieves who were placed there before the Saviour had arrived. Jesus is seen writhing in agony as the cruel soldiers pierce His side with spears and place the sponge filled with hyssop to His mouth. In the end the revilers are startled by the cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." Then, with a look of forgiveness, He said: "It is finished," and the end came.
Taking Down the Cross
The opening shows Jesus as He hangs on the cross in death. Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene are discovered weeping at the foot of the cross. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who have obtained permission to inter the remains, are seen to enter and take down the body of Jesus and carefully wrap it in a white sheet for burial. The rough crown of thorns is taken from the head and the two women kneel and weep as the cortege prepares to depart.
Placing Jesus in the Tomb
At the opening of this scene the tomb is discovered, and immediately there enters Nicodemus, followed by Joseph and the mourning women. The men are carefully carrying the body of our Saviour and as they enter the tomb Mary, the mother of Jesus, faints and falls into the arms of Mary Magdalene. Joseph and Nicodemus having placed Him inside the tomb, are seen coming out, and immediately the great stone is rolled before the sepulcher, and, weeping, they depart, leaving Him therein.
The great stone has been rolled away from the tomb. Outside are two soldiers who have been guarding the body of Jesus. Near the door stand two angels with outstretched wings, invisible to the guards. Mary Magdalene is seen approaching the tomb. She discovers the body of Jesus has been carried away and beckons to Peter and John, who come to the tomb, and stand looking therein. The angels disappear and Mary sees Jesus standing by and mistakes Him for the gardener. Christ is recognized and they all fall upon their faces and worship Him.
Jesus is here seen leading His disciples out to Mount Olivet, over against Bethany. There He stops. The disciples gather about Him. Every ear is listening, every eye on Him. Stretching forth His hands, He blesses those whom He has loved until the end, and while He is blessing them He suddenly disappears from the earth, and a cloud receives him out of their sight. As he disappears there stand beside them two men clothed in white and a loud voice cries "Amen. Come Lord Jesus." The entrance into Heaven, as shown in this subject, is remarkably interesting.