• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Monday, August 15, 2005

    The Living Christ Series - Intro

    I first came across this series of films at the Arts and Faith Discussion Forum about a year ago when someone posted a link to some spoof Jesus film shorts. Sadly it appears these are no longer available.

    There were 4 clips and two of them definitely seemed to star Robert Wilson from I Beheld His Glory (1952), but the other two I couldn't quite work out. The question of the identity of the actor/film of the 2nd and 4th clips in this link has bugged me for almost a year.

    I'd also heard of a film called the Living Bible, which I'd not really been that interested in and assumed was a 70s tie in with the translation / paraphrase of the same name. Nevertheless, it came up cheap on eBay the other day so I bid for it.

    It turns out that what was actually on the discs was something called The Living Christ series, and this was indeed the film used in the spoofs above. It would appear that the 12 half hour episodes started being released individually 1951 as films shown to church youth groups. The films were made by Episcopalian film company "Cathedral Films", and became so successful that they created two film spin offs, I Beheld His Glory in 1952, and Day of Triumph in 1954, although the IMDB lists both films as being 1953.

    Day of Triumph is often credited with being the first American Jesus "Talkie", coming 27 years after Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings in 1927. This may now be due a revision depending on how you classify a "film". If it is just moving pictures shot onto celluloid then the first Living Christ episodes deserve that claim. That said Day of Triumph was the first American Jesus film to gain cinema release in the sound era, and was also the first film in that era that was feature length, so I'll leave it to the reader to decide.

    I am surprised that neither Campbell and Pitts's "The Bible on Film" nor Kinnard & Davis's "Divine Images" seem to mention this series.


    N.B. - This post was back-dated to when much of it was first noted down in a discussion at the Arts and Faith discussion forum

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