4 April 2009 | dbdumonteil
By the time he gets to Damascus....
One of the rare attempts of the French cinema in the field of the sword and sandal genre .I was skeptical but I 've got to make amends:it's a very interesting movie,made with care .Saul De Tarse is a Roman soldier who is making rough all over .The screenwriters took some liberties with the Gospels :it's the apostles who found the open grave and not Mary Magdelene and her companions (a bit macho perhaps).
The acting is a little theatrical and most of the actors are not big names in the French cinema of the fifties ,with the exception of Michel Simon as Caiphas,and to a lesser extent,Jacques Dufilho and Claude Laydu .Jean-Marc Tennberg was a stage actor and his role of Saul is the only one I know in the movies.
Claude Laydu who portrays Saint Etienne is remembered for Bresson's "Journal D'Un Curé De Campagne" (and the series for little children "Bonne Nuit Les Petits" ).The stoning is a strong scene and has no cause to be jealous of Richard Fleischer's one in "Barraba" ten years later.The road to Damascus episode is particularly well made:we can't hear or see anything (no voice ,no Christ) .Saul (now calling himself Paul) tells us the story afterward.His dream is also a very good idea and it allows the director to show Paul's hard future.
It was a risky subject: the director put up a decent work.
NB:it was mooted that the movie was anti-Semitic;certainly not more than Ben Hur.Max Glass left Germany when Hitler rose to power.