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'King of Kings' [Blu-ray]
(Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield, Ron Randell, Viveca Lindfors, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2011 / Warner Home Video)

Overview: Jeffrey Hunter, Rita Gam, Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, and Robert Ryan star in 'King of Kings' which is widely regarded as one of the finest cinematic retellings of the life of Jesus Christ and is now brought to life as never before on stunning Blu-ray Disc!

Blu ray Verdict: This film has received its unfair share of criticism over the decades. The MGM offering was snubbed at the Academy Awards. The only Golden Globe nomination was for the score. The acting talents of Jeffrey Hunter were unappreciated. The mockery continued when the film was taunted as "The Teenage Jesus."

The film related the familiar story of the birth of Jesus and the three years of his ministry leading to his crucifixion. It had as well the backstory of the times-the Roman occupation, the Jewish resistance fighters, a religious system steeped in tradition and ceremony, and the emergence of a new way of religious thought and practice.

Hungarian composer, Miklos Rozsa, created a score both classical and stirring to the soul. The Spanish cinematography by Manuel Berenguer, Franz Planer and Milton Krasner added the color of life to this two thousand year old story.

Orson Welles did the narration penned by Ray Bradbury. Robert Ryan gave a subtle yet powerful portrayal of John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus. John paid the ultimate price for preaching the truth-arrested, imprisoned, and beheaded.

Indeed, there is no humor unless you count the perverse glee of Herodias when she is given the head of John the Baptist. Although stiff when compared to The Passion of the Christ, King of Kings is faithful to the Gospels.

The most underscored performance was given by Ron Randell as Lucius, the Roman Centurion. His presence from the beginning to the end added a continuity element. Lucius gradually became a believer in Jesus.

Of course, you have the assortment of men and women who were ruled by their passion and ambition-Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, Barabbas, Herodias, Salome, Judas Iscariot, and Caiaphas. These characters were tragic yet essential to what would unfold.

Going back to Jeffrey Hunter's performance, he brought a youth and vigor to Jesus which has lasted for the generation who saw this film as children. Perhaps, this was his greatest role- to play the teacher of Nazareth whose message of peace and love would eventually conquer the Roman World. We certainly could use that message today. [GD] This is a Full Screen Presentation (2.20:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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