(mouse over after page loads to see 1928 title)


directed by Cecil B. DeMille
USA 1927


  The King of Kings is the Greatest Story Ever Told as only Cecil B. DeMille could tell it. In 1927, working with the biggest budget in the history of Hollywood, DeMille spun the life and Passion of Christ into one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Featuring text drawn directly from the Bible, a cast of thousands, and a cinematic bag of tricks that could belong to none other than Hollywood’s greatest showman, The King of Kings is at once spectacular and deeply reverent—part Gospel, part Technicolor epic. Arguably one of the best-loved films ever made in a 112-minute general release version and the rarely seen 155-minute cut that premiered at the grand opening of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.


Theatrical Release: April 19th, 1927- USA

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DVD Review: Criterion (2-disc) - Region 0- NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 266 - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 2:37:25 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.20 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.



Audio Silent (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono) 
Subtitles Intertitles are in original English

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• New, restored digital transfers of both versions of The King of Kings: DeMille’s 155-minute roadshow version and his subsequent 112-minute general release
• New Dolby Digital 5.1 scores by composers Donald Sosin (1927 version) and Timothy J. Tikker (1931 version), plus the original score for the 1931 release by Hugo Riesenfeld
• Behind-the-scenes footage from the making of The King of Kings
• Cast portraits by photographer W.M. Mortensen
• Production and costume sketches by renowned artist Dan Sayre Groesbeck
• Stills gallery of rare production and publicity photos
• Original illustrated program and press book featuring photographs from the film’s gala premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and studio correspondence from DeMille
• Original theatrical trailers
• Plus: a booklet featuring a 1927 essay by DeMille, an excerpt from Robert S. Birchard’s new book Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood, production notes, and a new essay by film critic Peter Matthews

DVD Release Date: December 7th, 2004

Double Keep Case
Chapters: 27 for 1927 - 23 for 1928




The 1927 version is presented here in an excellent transfer despite some fairly significant damage to the original elements. Black and White scenes show some amazing fine detail. On occasion whites look a little blown out, but for the most part contrast is as perfect as a film of this age is going to look. Colour scenes are heavily damaged and exhibit some major flicker. These portions within the 1927 version still have much better colour/contrast than the 1928 version. The score sounds very good with a wide range of fidelity (it should as it is a brand new recording). It is presented as a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, not a DD 5.1 mix as stated on the Criterion website. Extras on disc one are very informative, but are mostly text and image based, except for the trailers.

The 1928 version is of much lower quality and represents a different film experience altogether.

Some scenes in the 1927 that are colour are presented in B&W in the 1928. Quite a few scenes do not share the same frames, making matching screen capture nearly impossible. The B&W scenes in the later version sometimes look sharper and more detailed than their 1927 colour counterpart. The original 1928 Riesenfeld score sounds thin and has some hiss while being fairly limited in range. It is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 and compliments the film nicely. The alternate 2004 pipe organ score (DD 2.0 not 5.1) sounds very clean but I still preferred the original mono score for this version of the film.

Extras on disc two include 13:30 min of behind the scenes silent footage, stills and more image/text based extras including costume sketches and portrait stills.

Overall this set is very highly recommended and to have the longer 1927 version of the film in such a high quality transfer represents a real revelation for fans of this or any silent film.
out of

Mark Balson


DVD Menus

1927 version - LEFT - 1928 version - RIGHT


Intertitle Sample




Screen Captures


NOTE: some frames simply do not exist in the 1928 shorter version!


1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM




1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM




1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM




1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM



1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM



1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM


1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM



1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM


1927 version -TOP - 1928 version - BOTTOM


DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:



Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 266 - Region 0 - NTSC


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