BOOTLEG FILES 664: “The Passion Play of Oberammergau (1898 film at the center of a historic lawsuit).
LAST SEEN: The full film has not been seen since its original release.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASONFOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A landmark patent infringement case.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Too late.
Thisweek’s column is different because it does not involve a production that can only be seen in an unauthorized presentation. Instead, we are going to revisit a long-forgotten story about one of the first legal challenges of patent infringement connected to the film industry.
Up until the 1960s, the cinema depiction of Jesus followed a consistent standard in terms of how He was depicted – the long-haired, bearded, white-robed Jesus of Renaissance paintings – as well as in the manner of how He conducted himself. The big screen Jesus was a symbol of piety and respect, with filmmakers and actors working with a clearly defined parameter.
BOOTLEG FILES 641: “Golgotha” (1935 French film by Julien Duvivier).
LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: The English-dubbed version is available from a public domain label.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Subsequent controversies prevented a commercial U.S. re-release.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: A proper restored version of the French-language original does not seem likely at this time.
Last week’s column focused on “The Lawton Story,” the first American sound film to present Jesus Christ as a full-frontal character. But it was not the first sound film about His life. That distinction goes to a long-forgotten French film from 1935 called “Golgotha,” directed by Julien Duvivier, who is best known for the 1937 classic “Pépé le Moko,” the 1942 all-star Hollywood film “Tales of Manhattan” and the 1948 version of “Anna Karenina” starring Vivien Leigh.