Want to see a Jesus movie produced in the 19th century? My friend Matt Page has discovered that just such a film — or at least a ten-minute collection of footage from such a film — is available for download at the Library of Congress website.
The film in question is called La vie et la passion de Jésus-Christ, and it was produced in 1898 by Georges Hatot and the Lumière brothers. As Matt notes at his blog, this was not quite the first Bible movie ever made, but the earlier ones — all of which were produced in 1897 or 1898 — are all presumed lost at this point.
The film itself is a fairly straightforward collection of vignettes, shot in a typical early-silent-movie style that puts a lot of the action at the bottom of the screen (alas, the video seems to have been cropped too tightly, which often happens to older films), but it does include at least one unusual detail that may be unique to this film: at the four-minute mark, Jesus seems to teleport into the Last Supper scene.You can watch the film below or download it from the Library of Congress website: