I’ve been writing about life-of-Jesus films in one forum or another for about a decade now, and one film I have always wanted to see is Julien Duvivier’s Golgotha (1935) — quite probably the first Jesus film made during the sound era, and thus quite probably the first “talkie” about the life of Christ.
My interest was particularly piqued when I discovered that Franco Zeffirelli, director of Jesus of Nazareth (1977), had said in a book on the making of his own film: “I had seen all the films on Jesus and felt that the most beautiful was the French director Duvivier’s from the late thirties, for which he shot exteriors entirely in Provence. A bare hour and a half of film.”
Alas, the film, being French and religious and 70 years old and not very well known, is virtually impossible to find on video, at least in North America — and thus, most articles and books about Jesus films, including mine, have tended to jump straight from the 1920s (which reached its peak with Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings; my review) to the 1950s (when a church organization produced The Day of Triumph, the first English-language sound film in this genre) or the 1960s (when Nicholas Ray directed King of Kings, the first major-studio sound film in this genre).
So of course I am rather envious of my friend Matthew Page, who lives in England, and who somehow found a copy, a review of which he has just posted here. Lucky man.