Despite being churlishly described at the time as 'I Was a Teenage Jesus' (in reference to the youth rebellion of Rebel Without a Cause), this is one of the most interesting screen versions of the Gospels. As so often in the work of script-writer Philip Yordan, the central conflict is seen in terms of political struggle and betrayal; detailing the Jews' rebellion against the oppressive power of Rome, it elevates Barabbas in particular to the status of an almost proto-Zionist nationalist leader, and the dynamics of the narrative are presented as the consequence of wide-ranging historical movements rather than the whims of charismatic individuals. As a result, some of the performances appear to lack depth, but one can't deny the effectiveness of Miklós Rózsa's fine score, and of Ray's simple but elegant visuals which achieve a stirring dramatic power untainted by pompous bombast. Despite producer Samuel Bronston's meddlesome editing, in fact, it's an intelligent, imaginative movie devoid of conventional Hollywood pieties.
King of Kings
Cast and crew