Monday, March 30, 2020

By the Gods!

Deborah (Christiane Lenier), Magdala (Nathalie Nerval) and Saul of Tarsus (Jean-Marc Tennberg) in LE CHEMIN DE DAMAS (1952)

A rare, seldom seen French PEPLUM of the story of Saint Paul. We learn at the start of the story that Saul was hired to get rid of the apostles and anything to do with Jesus. We follows his long and torturous journey in becoming an apostle and eventually be known as Saint Paul. It's quite dark for its time though the staginess of the direction keeps it from being too depressing.

Production wise, it's quite good. It's very theatrical (it was almost entirely filmed in a studio). There are many scenes where the studio setting is quite obvious but the production is still good, including matte paintings. Everything is theatrical, certainly the acting. Everyone shouts their dialogue. This aspect dates the movie a lot but the movie is also quite atmospheric. Lots of quiet moments, which was rare for movies back then.

The movie has a famous stoning scene of Saint Etienne (Claude Laydu). There are also whippings and the usual stuff seen in PEPLUM movies. The portrayal of the many characters is odd. For instance, Peter, aka Simon the Fisherman, is portrayed as a sort of a weak man who jokes and mocks people. Not exactly what I envision as the man who lead to the founding of the church.

From what I can determine, the movie has no English dub. The title would be THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS. Some have criticized the movie as being anti-semitic.

I like the concept of the film. It has an almost fantasy feel to it but for me the overacting is a real liability. This wasn't uncommon in other French PEPLUM movies back then. SINS OF POMPEII (1950) suffers from the same annoying acting style.

6.5 out of 10. Production: 8 out of 10.

Etienne (Claude Laydu; in white) witnesses the torture of Simon the Fisherman (Jacques Dufilho)

Very good production values.

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