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The King of Kings (The Criterion Collection)

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Editorial Reviews

With this silent-era spectacle, Cecil B. DeMille cemented his reputation as the master of the biblical epic. DeMille tells the story of Christ's life and Passion with great attention to historical accuracy, along the way paying homage to the religious illustrations of Da Vinci and Doré, and, in a modern flourish, restaging Christ's resurrection in luminous Technicolor. In time for Christmas, Criterion will present fully restored editions of both versions of this glorious spectacle in a heavenly two-disc set: the original 155-minute silent version from 1927 - never before available on home video - and the 1931 release, re-cut by DeMille to 112 minutes. The DVD edition will also include new Dolby Digital 5.1 scores by composers Donald Sosin (1927 version) and Timothy J. Tikker (1931 version); the original score for the 1931 release by Hugo Riesenfeld; behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the film; cast portraits, production and costume sketches, a stills gallery of production photos and promotional material; the original illustrated program and press book featuring photographs from the film's gala premiere; and more.

Special Features

  • New, restored digital transfers of both versions of The King of Kings: DeMille's 155-minute roadshow version and his subsequent 112-minute general release
  • New Dolby Digital 5.1 scores by composers Donald Sosin (1927 Version) and Timothy J. Tikker (1931 version)
  • Behind-the-scenes footage from the making of The King of Kings
  • Cast portraits by photographer W.M. Mortensen
  • Production and costume sketches by renowned artist Dan Sayre Groesbeck
  • Original illustrated program and press book
  • Plus: a booklet featuring a 1927 essay by DeMille, an excerpt from Robert S. Birchard's new book Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood, production notes, and a new essay by film critic Peter Matthews

Product Details

  • Actors: H.B. Warner, Dorothy Cumming, Ernest Torrence, Joseph Schildkraut, James Neill
  • Directors: Cecil B. DeMille
  • Writers: Jeanie Macpherson
  • Producers: Cecil B. DeMille
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: December 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 267 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JNGA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,413 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The King of Kings (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

There are many memorable sequences scattered throughout the film.
Chip Kaufmann
Cecil B. DeMille's "The King of Kings" was one of the earliest Hollywood depictions of the life of Jesus Christ.
This is easily the most impressive silent movie I have ever seen.
Daniel Jolley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 27, 2005
Format: DVD
Calling The King of Kings a cinematic masterpiece barely begins to do it justice, and this Criterion Collection release is absolutely beautiful, turning the widespread notion of silent movies completely on its head. This print looks like it could have been made yesterday, not 1927, boasting some incredible special effects for its time. Cecil B. DeMille was a genius who helped turn moviemaking into an art form. With The King of Kings, he also retold the story of Jesus Christ in a serious and emotionally powerful way that has effectively helped spread the Gospel for over seventy-five years. This Criterion Collection release is itself a heavenly release that gives viewers the chance to own the film in its original, uncut form for the first time.

While DeMille's film is a reverent retelling of life and heavenly mission of Jesus, it does take some liberties with the Gospel accounts, sometimes combining different events into one and introducing several of its own elements in an attempt to emphasize the linear nature and importance of the story. Mark, for example, is presented as a child healed by Jesus who is there to witness the ministry and ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Judas Iscariot is constantly shoved to the forefront of events, heavily emphasizing his misinterpretation of the Messiah's mission and ultimate betrayal of Jesus. He is depicted as a selfish and ruthless man who only joined Jesus' band of followers because he expected to be made a great man in the traditional kingdom he expected Jesus to found on earth. Most interestingly, Mary Magdalene is depicted as a consort to Judas who first comes to Jesus in order to confront Him for having stolen Judas' attention away from her.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By E. Hunter Hale on November 6, 2004
Format: DVD
Having just seen an advance copy of the two disc DVD set of Criterions release for Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 THE KING OF KINGS, I can tell you that you don't know just how great this film is until you have seen the uncut 155-minute roadshow version as first shown at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in LA and the Gaiety Theatre in New York.

Running 37-minutes longer then the fine 1928 shorter version (also included in this set with the original Hugo Riesenfeld score and sound effects as released in 1928, and an excellent newly recorded pipe organ score by Timothy J. Tikker), this is a marvel to experience! Beautifully preserved by the DeMille family, it has been transferred complete with two Technicolor sequences (rather then just one as we are used to seeing), and it has an outstanding orchestra score by Donald Sosin, that adds a new dimension to the film.

THE KING OF KINGS in its longer version is a far greater film then it ever was in its shorter form. This is easily the finest rendering of the Life of Christ ever put on film. A reviewer for The Saturday Evening Post (1927) correctly stated that:

"DeMille has achieved a masterpiece...a picture that is worth more than all the sermons ever preached. It is Spirit, on the screen."

The Criterion Collection DVD release includes 2-versions of the film with three music tracks, a wealth of "Extras", including almost 15 minutes of wonderful behind-the-scenes on the set footage, reproductions of press books, the theatrical program, a trailer for the NY run of the film, stills, sketches, and a booklet.

This is the finest DVD to date on a silent classic, even surpassing Fox's excellent job on F.W. Murnau's SUNRISE. This is a MUST HAVE DVD!
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By sml17 on March 21, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Imagine seeing this film, in a small theatre with folding chairs, at the age of seven, or six. It was around 1978, during the Christian season of Lent. This imaginative little boy believed that, since it was a silent film, and silent films were made in the olden days, this film must've been shot starring the actual Jesus and his disciples. Now, over thirty years later, I saw this spectacu- lar again, with a live organ accompaniment in San Diego. If one is either a film buff, a DeMille fan, a Christian, or a seeker, buy this video. CB DeMille uses drama, lighting, action, and sets with "reverent" (the oft-used adjective for this movie) restraint and artfulness. This film is also a lesson in itself of premiere silent acting style, early (and believeable) special effects, and wonderful scoring. This home video version also features sound effects and the legendary technicolour sequence of the Resurrection morning. This Jesus movie is surpassed ONLY by Zefirelli's 6-hour opus (trimmed from a reputed 12 hours) miniseries "Jesus Of Nazareth". Buy them both.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Linda McDonnell on December 31, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I hadn't seen this movie since I was a little girl; then, I saw on my way to a church hall party that the film was going to be shown later in the church that very night with live organ accompaniment. Well, I left the party early to see "King of Kings" and that was no mistake! HB Warner turns in a sensitive performance as Christ, one of the best I've seen. His Jesus is gentle without being weak, which so often happens in other films. There's also a very talented child actor playing the part of a young evangelist Luke, who is healed of his lameness by Christ. For me, the most effective special effect sequence was in the beginning, when Mary Magdalene barges in on Christ and his followers. She is a brazen hussy driving a zebra-drawn chariot and is determined to give Christ a hard time for stealing away Judas, her apparant boyfriend. Then, as Christ merely looks at her, she undergoes a transformation as she is cleansed of the Seven Deadly Sins before our eyes. The appearance of each sin as it is drawn from her body is astounding. From that moment on, I was hooked!
If you would like to see an excellent version of the Christ story, look no further than this silent masterpiece.
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The King of Kings (The Criterion Collection)
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