Julien Duvivier – Golgotha (1935)

Golgotha is noteworthy because it is the very first sound-picture ever made about Jesust. On top of that, it is thoroughly well done and engrossing. It starred a cast of hundreds—perhaps the biggest ever assembled for a film at the time. Like Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 film King of Kings, Duvivier gives his film a glossy, Hollywood look featuring terrific sets and (at the time) epic camera shots, but unlike many Hollywood incarnations of Jesus’ life, the story is decidedly intimate, focusing on characters who speak quietly in closed rooms rather than over-expressive actors who wear their Shakespearian training (or lack thereof) on their sleeves.

When compared to other Jesus films, Golgotha surprisingly has the most in common with Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, as it skips to the end of Jesus’ life and focuses exclusively on his entry and death in Jerusalem, with an emphasis on the Passion. The key difference between Gibson’s film and Duvivier’s Golgotha is the central premise surrounding these events: If Gibson focused on the brutality that Jesus suffered, Duvivier focuses on the Pharisees and the Romans as they decide what to do with Jesus once he had brought his influence into Jerusalem.





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