Movie 7min

The Prodigal Son (1901)

Original title: L'enfant prodigue
From the Biblical parable of Saint Luke.
Not rated.

Facts
Director Ferdinand Zecca
Country France
Language French
Titles
(Original) L'enfant prodigue
(Alternative) Le fils prodique
(Alternative) The Parable of the Prodigal Son
(Country Spesific) El Hijo Pródigo
(Country Spesific) Der verlorene Sohn
Production
Distribution
(USA, 1903) Pathé Frères
(USA, 1904) S. Lubin
Categories
Based on the Bible Biblical Drama Black and White Drama Forgiveness Grace Lost Film Money Parable Parable of the Prodigal Son Parables of Jesus Poverty Short Silent Film
Descriptions

A young man spends his time in riotous living after getting half of his inheritance. He lives with swine after all the money is used up and then decides to return home. The Prodigal return and the Father is overcome with joy at his son's return and orders the fatted calf to be killed in his honor.

Pathe produced in 1901 this very popular parable of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke 10:29-35. It harvested a lot of attention and thus it was distributed by many companies in USA.


We could not do better than to follow this Parable verbatim, which is certainly one of the most endearing of the New Testament, in the sense that it is eternally true. Its touching simplicity naturally designates it for shows specially dedicated to families and institutions. With our superb Passion of N.S.J.C, in 16 tables, it can constitute an absolutely offline program, informative and of high moral significance. Nothing was overlooked in setting this scene. The luxury deployed in the making of the specially made sets, the splendor of the costumes and accessories, as well as the artistic side of the staging, make it the most grandiose picture that has been presented to date in cinematography.

Source: Pathé Freres - Translated


The father of the two sons is first shown, presenting a large quantity of jewels and money to cach of his two sons. The one who is the "black sheep" of the family accepts his share very greedily and seems to he anxious to take it away and squander it. The other son carefully turns his share over to his servants and instructs them what he wishes done with it. Immediately the wealth is distributed the first son hurries away with his treasure and the second re-enters his father’s house.

Here the scene changes, and shows the spendthrift at his pleasure in a wine garden. Next he is seen, after his share has been spent, wending his way back home. Outside the house he sees the pigs and, being very hungry, pushes them away from their troughs and cats their food. He is discovered by his father’s servants and driven off. He returns to the stable after the servants have disappeared and, sitting down on a nearby stone, falls asleep. In his dreams he sees his anxious mother awaiting his return and his father endeavouring to comfort her. Upon waking he decides to go to the house. As he approaches the door he is stopped by one of his father’s slaves and, not being recognized, is refused admission. He induces the slave to send for his mother, and immediately she appears. She recognizes her son and they embrace each other. The glad news is sent to the father, and when he sees him there is great rejoicing. The fatted calf is killed and great is the joy of the entire house-hold at the return of the lost one.

Source: Lubin Catalog


The father presents a large quantity of jewels and money to each of his two sons. The ''black sheep" of the family accepts his share very greedily and takes it away to squander it. The other son carefully turns his share over to his servants, instructs them what he wishes done with it, and re-enters his father's house. Here is shown the spendthrift at his pleasures in a wine garden. Next he is seen, after his share has been spent, on his way back home. Outside of the house he sees the pigs, and being veyr hungry, pushes them away from their troughs and eats their food. He is discovered by his father's servants and driven off. He returns to the stable after the servants have disappeared and, sitting down on a nearby stone, falls asleep. In his dreams he sees his anxious mother awaiting his return and his father endeavoring to comfort her. Upon waking he decides to go to the house. As he approaches the door he is stopped by one of this father's slaves and not being recognized, is refused admission. He induces the slave to send for his mother, and immediately she appears. She recognizes her son and they embrace each other. The glad news is sent to the father, and when he sees him there is great rejoicing. The fatted calf is killed and great is the joy of the entire household at the return of the lost one.

Source: Sears, Roebuck & Co., Motion picture machines and stereopticons, Chicago, 1908


A grand and superb series of pictures of the greatest artistic value, which has been arranged with the utmost reverence for accuracy. The costumes, scenes and details of this film are as near perfect as is possible to obtain from the story of the bible. Starting with the division of the father's wealth amongst the sons the scene is quickly followed by one which shows one of the sons spending his money in riotous living. The next scene shows the son pushing and struggling with the swine for a portion of the husks which has been thrown to them. Then the prodigal's return home, his meeting of his mother and father, the forgiveness which is followed by the gorgeous banquet and the feast of the fatted calf. This film is highly commended for Sunday school lectures church meetings and similar purposes. Calculated to impress and gratify everyone; while from the admirable taste and tact with which the subject has been treated it cannot possibly cause offense. This film is the fines!

Source: Selig Catalog

5 Tableaux
Titles from the July 1902 Supplement to Selig catalog.
The Division of the Wealth
The father divides his property between his two sons.
Spending Money in Riotous Living
The young man spends his property on festivals. Ballet.
Herding Swine
Driven by misery, he disputes his food with swine; in a dream he sees his unhappy parents watching for his return.
The Return Home - Forgiveness
The return of the prodigal son. The father, happy to find his child, orders celebrations in his honor.
The Feast of the Fatted Calf
The feast of the calf. Reconciliation of the two brothers.
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Cast
Unavailbale.
Crew
Ferdinand Zecca - Director
Vincent Lorant-Heilbronn - Production Design (Set Decoration)