King of Kings - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

King of Kings Reviews

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April 2, 2017
Watching again on TBN 4-2-17.
Rip torn Judas. Robert Ryan (leftie) John the Baptist.
Brings back memories of '61.
½ April 5, 2015
The makers of this had their heart in the right place but it seems disjointed and lacking in realism. The script and acting are like from a school play and I don't think they had a decent grasp of the source material to really bring it to life on the screen. Because of the wooden acting, it falls flat on emotion.
½ April 4, 2015
Essential Easter or Christmas viewing! You have to see this if only for the abuse John the baptist heaps on Salome ("daughter of Adultery") and her mother and Salome is such a moll!! Reminds me of gal I had a thing with - sexy but a nasty bitch. Frank Thring is characteristically superb as the debauched Herod - but who secretly fears God. What is remarkable about this film is that it will please Christians - the Jesus character is treated with appropriate awe and appears suitably divine, yet the film has a realism to it, especially in the motivations and failings of the other characters, which is indeed in keeping with Jesus' message, to forgive us our failings and exhort us to do better in the future. I am sure in the original film we see the head of John the Baptist on the silver platter (it delighted me greatly as a child) but this seems to have been removed from the current TV version. This film remains the definitive film passion play of Jesus' life.I look forward to it every time we have a public holiday to do with Jesus.
½ January 1, 2015
A decent depiction of the life of Jesus.

Covers the whole of Jesus' earthly life, from being born in a stable, to His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. Leaves out His childhood and young adult years, jumping from shortly after His birth to when He first started preaching and performing miracles.

The final scenes are particularly powerful, the like of which were not seen again until The Passion of the Christ in 2004.

Leaving out His childhood was a mistake in that you don't get the build-up to His later life, as you don't get the earlier indications of His greatness and divinity.

Instead we have this almost-parallel story of Barabbas. In the Bible we only hear of Barabbas at Jesus' trial, but here there is a whole sub-plot involving him (how much of which is true, one cannot say). I can only assume this was put there for secular audiences, as his presence gives us some action scenes and makes the movie less single-stranded.

Solid performance by Jeffrey Hunter in the lead role. The major supporting cast are mostly fine, but there are some fairly hammy performances out there too.

A good movie for both Christians and non-Christians.
December 19, 2014
Beautiful cinematography with heartbreaking score by Miklos Rozsa, filmed in fascinating Spanish locations, operatic choreography and narration by Orson Welles. The real author of this movie is not the great Nicholas Ray or the pretentious producer, Samuel Bronston, but the celebrated Hungarian composer Milkós Rózsa, who wrote his most memorable musics around 1960, (El Cid, Ben-Hur) but this is his perfectly best. Marvellous colors and settings illustrate the music, what like an opera, is able to tell the complete story without help. We have some feelings, the music was ready before the shooting began (like in Once Upon a Time in the West), but it was adjusted to it in the editing room (often modifying the original concept). A camp Jesus movie from the end of the studio system.
August 27, 2014
The best film that could ever been made.
April 22, 2014
Although This Biblical Classic, Relies More On It's Spectacle And Grand Production, This Is Actually An Excellent Piece Of Cinema. Push Aside The Whole Grand Production And Lavish Sets, And What's Left Is An Excellent Cast & A Great Interpritation Of The Life Of Christ. This Is Probaly Not The Best Film Based On The Life Of Christ But What Makes This One Of My Favourites Is That It Doesn't Only Focus On Jesus, It Also Focuses On Barabbas' Battles With The Romans, The Execution Of John The Baptist & The Political Struggles Between Herod & The Romans. A Film Which Features Excellent Performances And Is Narrated By The Great Orson Welles.
½ April 20, 2014
Un clásico a pesar de algunas incongruencias.
½ April 5, 2014

"He is truly the Christ! "

2014 seems to have a comeback in religious epics, with the success of both Son of God and Noah, and with the upcoming release of Exodus in December, it seems like Hollywood is bringing back a genre that was highly popular during the 1950's and early 60's, before the decline of the genre due to the New Hollywood era. Seeing that filmmakers have a newfound return of telling Bible stories to life, and also the fact that there was about four religious epics on my classics list, I figured this was the right time to watch one of them. Directed by Nicholas Ray, known for gritty tales about teenage angst such as Rebel Without a Cause (and one that I wouldn't picture making a Biblical epic), King of Kings is in fact a remake of a silent film with the same title that Cecil DeMille made back in 1927 that's highly regarded as one of his best films (one I might have to look into). It may not be as deeply compelling as something like Ben-Hur, but the 1961 King of Kings is well-made and has a strikingly beautiful style to it.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God sent from heaven to preach the good news of the gospel to the world and suffer on the cross for the sins of mankind. One thing that's very unique about King of Kings is how the story was told. We witness some very well-filmed recreations of famous moments in the Scriptures, such as the birth of Christ, the crucifixion, and the Sermon on the Mount, but what makes King of Kings stand out above the rest is the fact that the film is mainly told in the perspective of the Romans, telling the film in more of a historical aspect, and I found that concept to be highly intriguing, and it worked very well in my book. A lot of Christians will likely complain that Jesus has a lack of screen time in order to favor the political angle, and I admit I kind of wanted to see more of Christ's miracles, the feeding of the 5,000, and raising Lazarus from the dead, but the film is never boring and manages to engage even when Christ is not in the picture, particularly the famous erotic dance of the daughter of Herodias. Another thing that was great about King of Kings was the backstory of the rebel Barabbas, that murderer that the crowd released over Jesus. In the film, Barabbas does his work in what he believes to help Christ in his mission on Earth, which I thought was a strong script addition to the story. Scenes where he leads attacks on the Roman Empire is extremely well-done, and extremely violent for its time. While tame compared to today's violence, these sequences still manage to be engaging in what the story's supposed to convey.

King of Kings is well-known today for being the first major film to show Jesus' face, something that was considered a controversy back in 1961, especially when past films have preferred to show only his hands or his shoulders, such as Ben-Hur. Also controversial for its time was the casting of Jeffery Hunter as Christ, who's teenage-idol appearance (though he was 33 when he did the role) put off a lot of religious audiences, calling him a "teenage Jesus". With the film having a stronger reputation today, and not being familiar with Hunter's work (the only other film I've seen him in is The Searchers), I actually thought he did a great job playing the King of Kings. Sure the film favors Roman politics and history, but Hunter still manages to convey what Christ was supposed to do for mankind, and is one of the strongest performances of Christ that I've seen on film. King of Kings features a great cast, with strong performances, such as Robert Ryan as John the Baptist, Harry Guardino as Barabbas, Rip Torn as Judas Iscariot, Sioban McKenna as Mary the mother, and Hurd Hatfield as Pontius Pilate. There's also well-done narration from Orson Welles.

Something I knew wouldn't disappoint was the film score by Miklós Rózsa, known for scoring religious epic in his day, others including Ben-Hur and Quo Vadis, and one that I find very underrated. His score for King of Kings is no different, one that sounds very epic, inspiring, and uplifting, with highlights being the use of choral music in the more moving moments of the film.

When asked why he made King of Kings, director Nicholas Ray said he wanted to make a film different from his usual style of filmmaking, something that's more epic and not a gritty black & white melodrama. He succeeds well in King of Kings, telling the story of Christ in a unique perspective, featuring wondrous visual images and featuring strong performances, particularly Jeffery Hunter as Jesus. The preference of politics over Christ might disappoint some viewers, but the final result is a true miracle for anyone that enjoys watching Biblical epics.

"Do you know and love Me? Feed My sheep, for My sheep are in all the nations. Go you into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature who hungers. I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
March 2, 2014
Didn't do much for me.
½ February 8, 2014
A biblical film that I found interesting to watch, although I think it could have been better. I am not sure how much I like Jeffrey Hunter acting as Jesus, but in fairness that role is so sacred and larger than life that I don't think anybody can properly portray him. I thought the musical score really stood out and gave the film the epic feel that it deserved. (First and only viewing - 1/12/2014)
Super Reviewer
½ December 30, 2013
King of Kings is a large-scale epic telling the story of Jesus and featuring several screen legends and narrated by the great Orson Welles. The film does a good job of visually telling the story of Jesus and while it overall works as a historical epic it is very slow in parts and meanders frequently throughout it's nearly three hour running time. Still it is one of the better done and more well received depictions of the biblical story of Jesus and remains so.
December 27, 2013
The Miklos Rozsa music score soars in this production. The best pieces are
the Entr' Acte, The Lord's Prayer and The Epilogue, inspiring and memorable --- the best music ever written for a filmic presentation of The Christ..
December 25, 2013
Well directed and an epic film that still holds up. Orson Welles' narration, although uncredited, is one of the highlights of the film. I found myself enjoying it
October 24, 2013
the best religion movie ever done I appreciate. the time and effort. cause I followed the movie with my bible and the accuracy is astounding it was not rushed. actors are excellent. Thank you.
April 7, 2013
We're seeing this tonight (April 7th) at St. Dominic's Sunday Night Cinema--7 pm in the Thomas Aquinas Room. Be there or be square. This has a lot of historical accuracy (Barabbas isn't just a bad guy--he's a revolutionary--a "Zealot", and they caused a lot of trouble to the Romans--and stirred up the war that ended with the destruction of the temple in 70. The same is probably true of the two thieves--the word laistes is used of revolutionaries--for more on those guys read Josephus' Jewish War. It's riveting.)
March 29, 2013
Despite the narration being a tad excessive at points, and the odd moment of 'tell, don't show the powers of Jesus', Nicholas Ray's vision of Christ's life boasts great, powerful music from the maestro Rozsa (also responsible for El Cid and Ben Hur), an epic visual scope that fits this story well and allows for some beautiful cinematography and grand sets, a strong cast with the likes of Jeffrey Hunter, Rip Torn and Robert Ryan embodying biblical icons so well you forget you're watching actors, and an interesting take on Judas, played more as a man conflicted between two ideologies, than just a traitor.
½ February 26, 2013
What a geat Jesus movie! Jeffery Hunter does a great performance here.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
January 3, 2013
This picture, basically, it is a retelling of the story of Jesus. "King Of Kings" pretty much says it all and the director Nicolas Ray does a good job staying true to the life of the Son Of God. The cinematography is great, nice locations, thousands of extras, epic. Orson Welles provides the voice narration and covers the aspects of the story. Jefferey Hunter plays as Jesus and I couldn't help but notice the closeups of his blue eyes when he heals a blind man. Hunter doesn't over play the part and looks charismatic and confident as the Messiah. The film plays like theater since the characters talk and move like theater actors would. The vast, large epic scale is more important to the picture then the life of Jesus itself but overall this is a movie I'd recommend to athiests.
October 29, 2012
story of jesus nicholas ray style
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