THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM (1912)
Article 4810 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Lawrence Marston
Featuring Florence La Badie, James Cruze, William Russell
What it is: Biblical tale
Three wise men from the east follow a star to Bethlehem so they may worship the birth of a new king.
According to a useful user comment on IMDB, this movie was three reels long, but all that survives is a condensation reel that runs about fifteen minutes. I somehow sensed the movie was incomplete, though I do wonder what was cut. My gut feeling is that the movie either told more of the story involving Herod (the movie opens with scenes involving Herod who drops out of the action afterwards) or it goes farther back in time to watch the Magi leave on their quest. I suspect this condensation was put together by a very devoted Christian; most of the movie seems to involve people seeing the star, kneeling down in worship, and then getting up long enough to follow it some more, then kneeling down and worshiping some more, and then getting up etc. This is very reverent, no doubt, but dramatically, it’s more than a bit dull. It’s interesting to note that the star seems to be fairly low hanging; during a scene in a doorway, it only seems to be hanging a few feet above their heads. I do find it a bit ironic, though, that a movie as reverent as this one opens with a lengthy sequence in which dancing girls perform for Herod, a scene that is dramatically unnecessary and starts the movie off at a snail’s pace.