King of Kings

Synopsis: The story of the life of Jesus Christ from his birth in Bethlehem to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Filmed on a relatively grand scale, the film includes all of the major events referred to in the New Testament; his baptism by John the Baptist; the miracles - cripples walking, blind men seeing; the fishes and the loaves; and so on. The film actually begins with the Roman invasion by Pompey in 65 B.C., the appointment of King Herod the Great by the Romans and finally the crowning of Herod Antipas after he murders his father. The revolt led by Barrabas is also included and John the Baptist's beheading as Salome's price for dancing for Herod.
Director(s): Nicholas Ray
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
168 min

And it is written that in the year 63 B. C...

the Roman legions,

like a scourge of locusts...

poured through the east...

laying waste the land of Canaan

and the Kingdom of Judea.

Rome's Imperial Armies,

a tumult in the hills...

struck Jerusalem's walls

in a three-month siege.

Breaching the gates, these legions laid

the dust of battle with a shower of blood.

Under the eye of General Pompey,

the Holy City fell...

her people strewn

like wheat in the harvest time of Rome.

While Pompey, triumphant...

dared take the last high place...

the still-living heart of the city...

the Temple.

Here, on this most sacred ground

in all Jerusalem...

now Pompey's horse took its way.

Where no pagan had ever set foot,

in the court of the priests...

most irreverent Pompey

stood himself down.

At last, here was the fruit of the harvest.

Here, it was said,

lay the treasure house of Jehovah...

great statues of gold,

as bright as the sun in this ancient land.

So Pompey,

burning for the touch of precious metals...

entered the sanctuary.

But entering, Pompey found

only a scroll of parchment...

a covenant with the one God,

handed down by Moses...

and venerated through the years.

Thus, for more than 50 years

after Pompey's invasion...

the history of Judea could be read

by the light of burning towns.

If gold was not the harvest...

there was a richness of people

to be gathered.

The battalions of Caesar Augustus

brought in the crop.

Like sheep from their own green fields...

the Jews went to the slaughter.

They went from the stone quarries

to build Rome's triumphal arches.

But Caesar could find no Jew

to press Rome's laws...

on this fallen land.

So Caesar named one Herod the Great,

an Arab of the Bedouin tribe...

as the new, false,

and maleficent King of the Jews.

But from the dust at Herod's feet,

rebellions of Jews rose up.

And Herod, in reply, planted evil seeds...

from which forests of Roman crosses

grew high on Jerusalem's hills.

And Herod the Great, passing pleased...

bade the forest multiply.

Yet, trapped in this darkness,

the Jews survived...

by one promise:

God would send the Messiah

to deliver them forth.

And it came to pass in those days...

that a decree went out

from Caesar Augustus...

that all the world should be taxed.

And all went to be taxed,

everyone into his own city.

So it was that Joseph, a carpenter...

went up from Galilee, unto Bethlehem...

to be taxed

with his espoused wife, Mary...

who was with Holy Child.

He found his own city

much corrupted by Rome.

Are you the innkeeper?

There is no room. No room,

not even for a fly to squeeze in.

Please, it's not for me. It's for my wife.

She's expecting a child.

You can find a place in the street!

She's expecting her child tonight.

Maybe I can give you a stall in the stable.

We will have to spend the night

in the stable.

Now, when this Holy Child was born

in Bethlehem of Judea...

three wise men came from the east.

These were Caspar,

Melchior and Balthazar...

of Mesopotamia, Persia and Ethiopia.

A King of Judea, born in a stable?

What kind of mockery is this?

Herod is the only King in Judea.

Who is this pretender?

Is there something in your scriptures...

about a new Messiah

being born at this time?

False messiahs are born

under every cloud, Your Majesty.

What shall we do, my son?

You are my king, Father.

It is for you to command.


order all newborn male children

in that town put to the sword.

That is my command, Lucius.

I am a Roman soldier.

I do not murder children.

You are in my service

by command of Caesar.

Dare you disobey Caesar?


while I slept, I heard a voice saying:

''Take the child and his mother,

flee into Egypt...

''and stay there until you are told

to return.''

Then we will go.

And so, when Joseph and Mary

fled into Egypt...

Herod's men, seeking all newborn sons...

did slaughter the innocents of Bethlehem.

Not my son!

Help me!


I cannot breathe.

Help me to my throne.

A king who cannot walk to his own throne

is no longer a king, Father.

Put me on my throne.

I will not die on my knees.

So Herod the Great,

crushed by his many murders...

self-crucified, fell dead.

And Herod Antipas

took murder for his crown.

And so it was that with Herod's death...

Joseph brought his family out of Egypt,

and he took them to Nazareth...

where the years passed, numbering 12.

- You are Joseph, the carpenter?

- Yes.

My camel litter needs repair.

I'll look at it.

- Peace be to you.

- And to you.

- Refresh yourself.

- Thank you.

- Your son?

- Yes.

And does he like being a carpenter?

Yes, he does.

There's a big world outside this garden,

do you want him to see it?

He will see it soon enough.

Let me take him with me. I'll pay you well.

I could use a lad like that

to help me with my caravan.

No. Someday he will leave me...

but someone else will call him.

And who will that be?

My son will know him when he comes.

I can mend it by tomorrow.


Have no fear.

We're simply checking the census

against the tax rolls.

Now, you are...


- And you live here with your wife, Mary.

- That is so.

Who's this boy?

My son, Jesus.

I have no record of his birth.

When was he born?

Twelve years ago.

- Where?

- In Bethlehem.


Count those in the next house.

See that the boy is registered

before the year is out.

Thus, Joseph's family

were once more forgotten.

Twenty years passed.

And Pontius Pilate,

new governor of Judea...

brought fresh armies south and east.

But in the hills,

10,000 rebel Jews lay hidden.

Their leader, Barabbas,

wanted as criminal and killer...

now baited his traps

for the Roman wolves.

There's too many of them, Barabbas.

We will divide them.

- There's a water sign on the hill.

- Make sure it's safe.

There's fresh water ahead, sir.

- Shall I give the men a rest?

- Not too long.

Take one column to the waterhole.

Column one, follow me.

Columns, rest!

Give me some wine.

How much farther is Jerusalem?

Another day's journey.

You should drink water, my husband.

Wine only increases the thirst.

I enjoy it.


A fine wedding present

your father gave me.

My dear Pontius...

it is said whoever can govern Jerusalem

can govern anywhere, even Rome.

Do you think Tiberius really has me

in mind as his successor in Rome?

I wish I knew my father's mind...

as well as I know my husband's ambition.

And Herod Antipas

rode out to meet Pontius Pilate...

and show him the way to Jerusalem.

Another troublemaker. Who is this one?

This one is called John the Baptist.

He preaches to the people to repent

before the coming of the Messiah.

I baptize you with water.

But one mightier than I

shall come after me.

And he shall baptize you

with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

One more messiah on the way.

Will these Jews never tire

of inventing deliverers?

I have heard that name, John the Baptist.

I hear he speaks evil things of me

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Philip Yordan

Philip Yordan (April 1, 1914 – March 24, 2003) was an American screenwriter of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s who also produced several films. He was also known as a highly regarded script doctor. Born to Polish immigrants, he earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois and a law degree at Chicago-Kent College of Law. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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