A Biblical Thriller

La nativité
R: Louis Feuillade. D: Renée Carl, Nadette Darson, Alice Tissot, Maurice Vinot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1910
Print: CNC
French titles

Louis Feuillade‘s retelling of the birth of Christ tells a different story than we’re used to. When the Magi tells King Herod of the birth foretold, Herod first sends his emissaries and then orders the death of the Christ child. Produced as part of the series ‘Le Film esthétique’, which promised audiences films that were ‘visual first and foremost, not theatrical’, La Nativité is part religious spectacle and part Biblical thriller, produced on lavish sets that gave Feuillade the opportunity to stage scenes in deep focus. The shepherds, following the star of Bethlehem, enter from the background and advance toward the camera to take their place in the tableau around the manger, a device he returned to in his hit serial Fantômas. Feuillade and Gaumont were sued by painter Luc Olivier Merson, who accused them of plagiarizing his tableau ‘Le Repos en Egypte’, which if nothing else inspired the unexpected final shot of La Nativité.”
Sean Axmaker

>>> The Star of Bethlehem on this site


Luc-Olivier Merson: Le repos en Egypte, 1880