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The Wandering Jew

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The Wandering Jew

After spitting on Christ on the way to crucifixion, a Jew is cursed with immortality

Fantasy 1934 102 mins

Director: Maurice Elvey

Overview

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Conrad Veidt stars as Matathias, a Jew who, after spitting on Christ en route to his crucifixion, is doomed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. After two passages - one set during the Crusades, the other in Mediaeval Italy - Matathias is offered redemption during the Spanish Inquisition. The opening and closing segments are particularly haunting, and Veidt is excellent as the antihero. This was the second film based on E. Temple Thurston’s play, which had previously been adapted for a silent version in 1923, also directed by Maurice Elvey.

The representation of Christ is imaginatively depicted; the viewer never sees him, and his words are conveyed silently, through words that appear eerily on screen. The last chapter features the screen debut of Peggy Ashcroft. Despite Matathias’ heroism in the final scenes, the portrayal of the Jew as arrogant and adulterous in the Jerusalem chapter led to the film being heavily cut before its US release.