From “Graham Greene on Film”

From “Graham Greene on Film” July 20, 2014

Granted that From the Manger to the Cross is well made, was it worth making? The film critic of The Times who didn’t like it at all–“sincerity is not enough”–noted “a tendency towards gross materialism,” and certainly, as in Spanish churches, you are allowed no escape at all from physical suffering; Christ is a man beaten up, like a Nazi prisoner in the Brown House. The physical horror is never far away and always well conveyed–whether it is the Massacre of the Innocents, dark passages and patches of brilliant sunlight and the sudden intrusion of spears in the old city, or the raising of Lazarus from the tomb–the awful wait after the stone has been rolled back until out of the cave the grub-like figure emerges, the tight cerements and the face all eyes. With all due respect to the Times critic, I find the value of the film in what he dislikes–the unsentimental reminder of the material horror, the link between the raising of Lazarus and The Monkey’s Paw.

–1938


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