The Star of Bethlehem

The Star of Bethlehem (Fragment)
R: Lawrence Marston. B: Lloyd F. Lonergan. D: Florence LaBadie, James Cruze, William Russell, Harry Benham, Justus D. Barnes, Charles Horan, Riley Chamberlin. P: Thanhouser Company. USA 1912
Original length three reels (3,000 feet); surviving version edited to one real (1,000 feet)
Print: British Film Institute / National Film and Television Archive

“Preparation of this epic was one of the last duties of Edwin Thanhouser before leaving the studio that bore his name. He had sold it to Mutual in April of 1912 and continued to work as studio manager until he ‘retired’ in November, 1912, only to return in 1915. Thanhouser’s biggest production up to that point in time, the film required a one-month shooting schedule, employed a cast of 200 (including forty principals), and cost a hefty $8,000. Special effects alone took a full week’s work.“
Matt Page
Bible Films Blog

“That the picture fulfills the purpose for which it is produced is certain. It is not a dramatic product in any sense of the word; it is a simple, vivid story of the coming of Christ. Harmony and taste have exercised in its production, and many of the photographic effects are especially fine. Three reels have been used in telling the story. It is said that 200 people were required, a month was consumed in its preparation, and $8,000 expended before the picture was ready to be shown. Whether the costumes and the characters are historically correct we do not know. Certainly they have been kept close to the biblical narrative and tradition. The story opens with a prologue, seven hundred or so years before Christ’s birth, when Isaiah beheld in prophetic vision the great things that were to happen in later days, and comforted his down-trodden people with the information. From here the action shifts to the time when Mary and Joseph are being betrothed. The continuity is well retained in developing the various events in the theme.”
The New York Dramatic Mirror, December 25, 1912

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