Review: The King of Kings (dir. Cecil B. DeMille, 1927)

The success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ has brought renewed attention to the old biblical epics, and if there is any one film that shares Gibson’s visual sensibility and his pious but sometimes lurid flair for melodrama, it would have to be Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings, new on DVD today as the latest classic release from Criterion Collection. Both films feature a hedonistic banquet populated by laughing revelers and a leopard on a leash. Both films feature a crow perched on a thief’s cross. And both films feature fantastic earthquake sequences after Jesus dies — though no one can match DeMille, who seems to think he’s making another Moses movie, for sheer over-the-topness.

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