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In this study the use of religious as a film genre is meant to denote 1 dramatizations of characters and events from the holy books of world religions 2 biographies of saints and clergy 3 films in which the principal characters are members of the clergy and 4 films that deal directly with spiritual questions and beliefs The religious film is one of the oldest of all genres starting in 1897 with The Passion Play an American filming of the annual production in Horwitz Bohemia Other films quickly followed including Louis Lumieres The Life And Passion Of Jesus Christ 1897 aka The Passion and The Passion Play Of Oberammergau 1898 which was actually staged in New York City Along with his numerous trick-photography fantasies George Melies also made Le Christ Marchant Sur Les Flots 1899 and Jeanne DArc 1900 an elaborate 12-scene drama with hundreds of extras American one-reel films included a 1907 version of Ben-Hur and a 1908 version of Salome Films about Jesus continued to be made with such French productions as The Life Of Christ 1906 The Life Of Jesus 1907 The Birth Of Jesus 1909 and The Kiss Of Judas 1909 An elaborate three-reeler from France The Life And Passion Of Jesus Christ 1908 achieved wide popularity and was re-released in 1914 in an expanded hand-tinted version called The Life Of Our Savior and reissued again in 1921as Behold The Man with a modern framing story A series of theatrical tableaux in the tradition of Melies the film effectively employed its new colors elaborating them into flamelike waves for the angel that protects Mary and Joseph during their flight to Egypt while shrewdly keeping Christs robes in unadulterated white making him stand out in such colorful crowd scenes as his entrance into Jerusalem or his appearance before Pontius Pilate A greater sophistication defined religious films by the teens Sidney Olcott who had co-directed the 1907 Ben-Hur journeyed to Egypt for location
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