Decent Films Blog

Bible Films Blog: Color and Symbolism in Bible Films

Posted Feb 23rd 2010, 12:53 PM

My friend Matt Page, who blogs Bible Films Blog, has just written an interesting post on color and color symbolism in Bible films.

Some highlights:

Many people think that colour only arrived in cinema only arrived sometime after the Second World War. However, the use of colour in moving pictures goes right back to cinema’s earliest days. Early films like The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ [1905] had no Technicolour processes, so resorted to hand colouring significant elements of each shot. …

Some of the earliest films to experiment with colour were in fact films based on the Bible … In [The] Ten Commandments [1923] DeMille experimented with the new [color] process for the scenes of the exodus — capturing both the joy and the sense of entering a whole new world. With [The King of Kings (1927)] he saved the colour for the resurrection …

One Bible film to make particularly good use of these colours was Nicholas Ray’s 1961 King of Kings (pictured above). One notable example is Jesus’ outer garments which change from brown prior to ministry, to red when he is at the peak of his powers, and then again to white as he becomes the spotless sacrificial lamb.

Matt’s blog is a helpful resource on Bible films, particularly for informed commentary on Bible films in relation to the Bible texts and comparison and contrast of different cinematic interpretations of particular stories. He’s also got his ear to the ground on Bible films in development. Check out his blog.

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