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The Bible on Silent Film
Spectacle, Story and Scripture in the Early Cinema


  • Date Published: November 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107042605

£ 81.00

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About the Authors
  • Between the advent of motion pictures in the 1890s and the close of the 'silent' era at the end of the 1920s, many of the longest, most expensive and most watched films on both sides of the Atlantic drew upon biblical traditions. David J. Shepherd traces the evolution of the biblical film through the silent era, asking why the Bible attracted early film makers, how biblical films were indebted to other interpretive traditions, and how these films were received. Drawing upon rarely seen archival footage and early landmark films of directors such as Louis Feuillade, D. W. Griffith, Michael Curtis and Cecil B. DeMille, this history treats well-known biblical subjects including Joseph, Moses, David and Jesus, along with lesser-known biblical stars such as Jael, Judith and Jephthah's daughter. This book will be of great interest to students of Biblical studies, Jewish studies and film studies.

    • Offers the first history of biblical films in the silent cinema
    • Provides narrative descriptions of films which have not been analysed before, so readers with limited access to film archives can have a sense of what these films were like
    • Contributes to a fuller and more accurate history of the reception of the Bible in the twentieth century
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A surprising and illuminating book.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107042605
    • length: 331 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 42 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Like one of the prophets of old': passions and cameos
    2. 'See this great sight': spectacle and miracle
    3. 'That my wonders may be multiplied': Blackton and elaboration
    4. 'How are the mighty fallen': Feuillade and tragedy
    5. 'All the country wept aloud': Andréani and melodrama
    6. 'The top of it reached to heaven' – Griffith, analogy and scale
    7. 'She came close to his bed' – vamps and other leading ladies
    8. 'But Pharaoh hardened his heart': Exodus and Egypt
    9. 'The end of these wonders?': The triumph of spectacle

  • Author

    David J. Shepherd, University of Chester
    David J. Shepherd is Senior Lecturer in the Theology and Religion Department at the University of Chester. He is the editor of Images of the Word: Hollywood's Bible and Beyond (2008).

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