Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Scott Lord Silent Film: Biblical Drama; Jesus of Nazereth (From The Manger to the Cross,...

It has been noted that "From The Manger to the Cross", directed by Sidney Olcott for the Kalem Company and shot on location in Egypt and Palenstine in 1912 and scripted by actress Gene Gauthier who played The Virgin Mary in the film, owes a debt visually to a Bible illustrated by Joseph Jacques Tissot. Accordingly, the expository intertitles preceding each scene from the Holy Bible introduce the passage with quotations from scripture cited by their respective chapter and verse.
Author W. Barnes Tatum, in his volume Jesus at the movies, a guide to the first hundred years, differentiates between Jesus story films and Christ figure films, Sidney Olcott's "From the Manger to the Cross" belonging to the former, the cinematic Jeusus, a visual form dating back to the passion play. Tatum expands his analysis by conveniently differentiating between the Synoptic portrayal of Christ and the Johannine portrayal. He names the film to be a "silent pageant".

Linda Arvidson, wife of D.W. Griffith, remembers Gene Gauthier in her autobiography "When Movies Were Young". She explains that Gauthier had been a "location woman" for D.W. Griffith who "dug up locations and wrote scenarios." Arvidson writes,"Miss Gauthier's aptitude along the location line did not satisfy her soaring ambition, so she left Biograph for Kalem."
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