King of Kings (1927) in 4K: Awe-Inspiring, Timeless Epic Classic
King of Kings, released in 1927, is a silent biblical epic directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The film tells the story of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, portrayed by H.B. Warner. Known for its ambitious scope and groundbreaking special effects, King of Kings was a commercial and critical success, solidifying its status as a classic in the history of cinema and laying the foundation for future biblical epics
Featuring the opening and resurrection scenes in two-color Technicolor, the film is the second in DeMille’s Biblical trilogy, preceded by The Ten Commandments (1923) and followed by The Sign of the Cross (1932).
Part 1: The Life and Ministry of Jesus
The film begins with Jesus Christ, portrayed by H.B. Warner, already engaged in his ministry as an adult. He starts by preaching the Sermon on the Mount, where he delivers the Beatitudes, emphasizing the importance of humility, mercy, and love. Jesus then performs various miracles, such as healing a blind man, a leper, and raising Lazarus from the dead. The film also highlights the growing tension between Jesus and the religious leaders of the time, particularly the Pharisees, who question his authority and criticize his teachings.
Part 2: The Last Supper and Betrayal
As Jesus’ ministry progresses, he gathers his disciples for the Last Supper. During this meal, he institutes the Eucharist, also known as the Holy Communion, and foretells of his betrayal by one of his own disciples. Soon after, Judas Iscariot, motivated by greed, betrays Jesus to the religious leaders for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus is subsequently arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he had gone to pray.
Part 3: The Trial and Crucifixion
Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court, where false witnesses testify against him. He remains silent throughout the trial until he is asked if he is the Son of God, to which he confirms. The high priest accuses Jesus of blasphemy, and he is taken to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate, unable to find any fault in Jesus, attempts to release him but ultimately succumbs to public pressure and sentences Jesus to be crucified.
The film depicts Jesus carrying the cross to Golgotha, falling under its weight, and receiving help from Simon of Cyrene. At Golgotha, Jesus is crucified alongside two thieves. As he hangs on the cross, he asks for forgiveness for those who have persecuted him, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Eventually, Jesus dies, and darkness envelops the land.
Part 4: The Resurrection and Ascension
After three days, Jesus rises from the dead, as prophesied. He first appears to Mary Magdalene, who had gone to visit his tomb, and then to his disciples, who are gathered in a locked room. Jesus shows them his wounds and instructs them to spread his teachings, baptize in his name, and carry on his mission. After spending forty days with his disciples, Jesus ascends into heaven, leaving them with the promise of the Holy Spirit.
King of Kings 4K Blu-ray Restoration
Moonflix has utilized state-of-the-art AI technology to restore and enhance the 1927 film King of Kings. This new restoration builds upon previous restoration work, repairing film defects and improving the overall quality of the film.
In the past, several restoration attempts have been made to preserve King of Kings. These efforts include the 1980 reissue of the film, which included a new musical score, and the 2011 Criterion Collection release that featured a digital restoration of the film, as well as a reconstructed version of the film’s original score.
For its time, King of Kings featured groundbreaking special effects that enhanced the portrayal of Jesus’ life and ministry. These effects were achieved through a combination of practical effects and early filmmaking techniques, such as double exposure and matte painting.
King of Kings explores themes of faith, redemption, and the struggle between good and evil. The film’s
portrayal of Jesus as a compassionate and divine figure serves to emphasize the message of love and forgiveness that lies at the heart of the Christian faith.
Most Memorable Scenes
Mary Magdalene’s Zebra-drawn Chariot Rescue
In one of the film’s most striking scenes, Mary Magdalene, played by Jacqueline Logan, rides off in a zebra-drawn chariot to rescue Judas. The exotic chariot, a gift from the Nubian king, adds a visually stunning element to the scene and underscores Mary Magdalene’s determination to help Judas.
Exorcism of Mary Magdalene
Another powerful moment in the film is the exorcism of Mary Magdalene by Jesus. As he drives out the demons possessing her, the scene is enhanced by the visual depiction of the demons swirling and exiting Mary’s body, emphasizing the miraculous nature of Jesus’ intervention.
Raising of Lazarus
The Raising of Lazarus is one of the most memorable miracles performed by Jesus in the film. The dramatic scene showcases Jesus’ divine power as he brings Lazarus back from the dead, astonishing the onlookers and further establishing his reputation as the Messiah.
Cleansing of the Temple
The Cleansing of the Temple scene in King of Kings is a pivotal moment, demonstrating Jesus’ commitment to eradicating corruption from religious practices. In this scene, Jesus drives out the money changers and merchants from the temple, condemning their exploitation of the sacred space for personal gain.
The Crucifixion scene is a key moment in the film and a culmination of the events leading up to Jesus’ death. The poignant and dramatic portrayal of Jesus’ suffering on the cross evokes a strong emotional response, highlighting the depth of his sacrifice for humanity.
The Resurrection scene marks the triumphant conclusion of King of Kings, as Jesus rises from the dead three days after his crucifixion. This miraculous event reinforces the film’s central message of hope, redemption, and the power of faith, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.
Reception and Legacy
King of Kings was a commercial success upon its release, grossing over $5 million at the box office. It also received critical acclaim for its ambitious scope and innovative special effects. The film has since become a classic and is often cited as one of the earliest and most influential biblical epics in the history of cinema. Its impact can be seen in numerous later films that explore religious themes and adapt biblical stories for the screen.
In addition to its cinematic legacy, King of Kings played a significant role in popularizing the biblical epic genre, inspiring many other filmmakers to tackle similar subject matter. The film’s innovative use of special effects and its sweeping, powerful narrative continue to resonate with audiences today.
- Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
- Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
- Screenplay by Jeanie Macpherson
- Cinematography by J. Peverell Marley
- Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
- Restored and upscaled by moonflix, LLC
- H.B. Warner as Jesus
- Dorothy Cumming as Mary, the mother of Jesus
- Ernest Torrence as Peter
- Joseph Schildkraut as Judas Iscariot
- James Neill as James the Great
- Joseph Striker as John the Apostle
- Robert Edeson as Matthew the Apostle
- Sidney D’Albrook as Thomas, the Doubter
- David Imboden as Andrew – a Fisherman
- Charles Belcher as Philip the Apostle
- Clayton Packard as Bartholomew the Apostle
- Robert Ellsworth as Simon – the Zealot
- Charles Requa as James the Less
- John T. Prince as Thaddeus
- Jacqueline Logan as Mary Magdalene
- Rudolph Schildkraut as Caiaphas – High Priest of Israel
- Sam De Grasse as Pharisee
- Casson Ferguson as Scribe
- Victor Varconi as Pontius Pilate
- Majel Coleman as Proculla – Wife of Pilate
- Montagu Love as Roman Centurion
- William Boyd as Simon of Cyrene
- Micky Moore as Mark
- Theodore Kosloff as Malchus – Captain of the High Priest’s Guard
- George Siegmann as Barabbas
- Julia Faye as Martha
- Josephine Norman as Mary of Bethany
- Kenneth Thomson as Lazarus
- Alan Brooks as Satan
- Viola Louie as Adulterous Woman
- Muriel McCormac as Blind Girl
- Clarence Burton as Dysmas – the Repentant Thief
- Jim Mason as Gestas – the Unrepentant Thief
- May Robson as Mother of Gestas
- Dot Farley as Maidservant of Caiaphas
- Hector V. Sarno as Galilean Carpenter
- Leon Holmes as Imbecile Boy
- Otto Lederer as Eber – a Pharisee
- Bryant Washburn as Young Roman
- Lionel Belmore as Roman Noble
- Monte Collins as Rich Judeaean
- Lucio Flamma as Gallant of Galilee
- Sôjin Kamiyama as Prince Of Persia
- André Cheron as Wealthy Merchant
- Willy Castello as Babylonian Noble
- Noble Johnson as Charioteer
- Jim Farley as Executioner
- James Dime as a Roman soldier
Original release date:
April 19, 1927
Genres: Biography Films, New Arrivals, Christian-Based Films, Movies, 1920's, Famous Stories, Drama Films, Famous Stories, Silent Films, Silent Films, American Classics, Drama Movies, Christian Films, ALL Movies