KING OF KINGS. DIRECTED BY NICHOLAS RAY. STARRING JEFFREY HUNTER, SIOBHAN MCKENNA, RON RANDELL, ROBERT RYAN, VIVECA LINDFORS, RIP TORN AND HURD HATFIELD. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Aaaaaah, nothing beats a good old MGM Biblical epic on Easter Sunday, the most fitting day of the year for a swords-and-sandals eggs-travaganza. (You see what I did there…?) KING OF KINGS is in fact a biopic movie, a more or less straightforward retelling of the life and death of Jesus Christ, pretty much as we learned it from the Bible or in school.
We see Jesus’ mother, Mary, travelling to Bethlehem with Joseph, her husband, and then giving birth in a humble stable to the child who will become known as the Messiah. Jesus is trained in carpentry like his father Joseph- well, of course the real baby-daddy is God, haha, but keep that under your hat- but it’s not long before he gets stuck into the work he was put on Earth to do, ie, spreading the Word of God to the people of Judaea. Oh, and healing the sick, the crippled and the blind as well, obviously.
The script is peopled with all the familiar names and characters we remember from our childhood. There’s John the Baptist, the preacher and prophet whose head ends up on a silver platter thanks largely to a saucy little minx who goes by the name of Salome. Mary Magdalen is the lady of loose morals invited to share Mary’s table in a spirit of compassion and forgiveness. Adulteresses and tax collectors and other rapscallions in general flock to Jesus like flies round jam.
Pontius Pilate is the man whom Caesar, the great Roman leader, has appointed to rule the tiresome dustbowl that is Judaea. One gets the distinct impression that he’d rather be anywhere but where he is when Jesus comes before him charged with blasphemy, sedition, rabble-rousing and inciting disloyalty to Caesar, the whole darned kit ‘n’ kaboodle.
Pontius Pilate even tries to fob Jesus off onto Herod Antipas, the son of the original Herod from the time of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem thirty-three years ago. The original King Herod was the chappie who was so threatened by rumours of the newborn Messiah that he ordered all the baby boys in the city to be ‘put to the sword,’ a hideous cull that Jesus only escaped through divine intervention.
The current Herod, however, wants nothing to do with either Jesus or his fate and so it is left to Pontius Pilate to condemn Jesus to death by crucifixion. The very handsome and charismatic Jesus Christ, the Son of God, dies magnificently on the cross. I always cry at this bit, no exceptions.
Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid to rest but, of course, we know the story doesn’t end there. For the sake of any extra-terrestrial beings who might be reading this review, I won’t include any spoilers. It’s a lovely uplifting ending though, I will say that, and whether you believe in Jesus, Allah, Buddha or someone or something else entirely, there’s surely nothing wrong in the message of peace and brotherly love and doing right by your fellow man that the film imparts. I for one can find no fault with it.
The sets and costumes are all spot-on and the cast, especially Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus, all play their parts to perfection. I’m reminded of every wonderful, butt-numbingly long Biblical epic I ever watched in my greatly mis-spent youth. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, THE ROBE, BEN HUR, DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS, QUO VADIS, SPARTACUS and all the rest of them.
Oh, happy days. They sure don’t make ’em like that any more, with their casts of thousands, their legions of Roman soldiers marching in perfect formation and their belly-dancing temptresses with their kohl-ringed eyes and their lithe, lissome bodies twisting and turning wildly to the stirring music. Sigh. I’m off now to eat my Easter Eggs and colour in a lovely picture of a chicken on the back of one of the boxes. Have a brilliant day, everyone.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: