King of Kings (1961) Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield, Ron Randell Movie Review

King of Kings (1961)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Jeffrey Hunter in King of Kings (1961)

Little Majesty Here

"King of Kings" tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ taking us from the period just prior his birth through to his crucifixion and then resurrection. Along the way we see many of the pivotal moments in his life from the slaughter of new born children following his birth to his baptism by John the Baptist and also his miracles along the way as he ministers to the masses whether rich or poor.

"King of Kings" is a disappointment, a big disappointment and to be frank almost 3 hours of your life you won't get back. Those are strong words considering how there are many who hold this biblical movie in high esteem but to me this attempt to turn the powerful story of Jesus Christ in to a cinematic epic ends up epically falling short of delivering the majesty of his story. And here is the simple reason why. "King of Kings" is one of the driest most monotonous biblical movies I have come across because it doesn't really bring the story to life but tells us what is going on via a monotone narration which makes it hard work and dry scenes. Maybe some liked the serious tone of Ray Bradbury's narration work but in truth the movie would have been so much better without it.

Robert Ryan in King of Kings (1961)

Now in truth the intrusive and monotonous narration is not the only issue "King of Kings" has as some of the casting is also wrong with at times it feels like an actor's star power was a bigger consideration than whether or not they were right for the part. As such you have the likes of Robert Ryan as John the Baptist and not coming across as being at all right for the part. In truth part of the trouble with many of the acting choices is that the actors involved were delivering lines in a reverential manner rather than bringing characters to life and it adds to that feeling of being dry and disappointing.

But there are some good things about "King of Kings" and Nicholas Ray has certainly strived to create the epic look of a biblical masterpiece. There is certainly a sense of scale about this movie although it doesn't have the triumphant nature you expect from such a movie, lacking that something to make it a majestic movie. But on the positives there is also Jeffrey Hunter's performance as Jesus and Hunter brings this mix of charisma yet also detachment which makes his interpretation of Jesus feel in this world but not of this world.

What this all boils down to is that "King of Kings" doesn't work for me as whilst it reaches to be epic ends up failing to come to life and at times is distinctly monotonous thanks to that passionless narration and dry acting.