SPECTACLES: Piety with Profit

Decades ago Cecil B. DeMille went to Oberammergau, saw the Passion Play, and left with a vision of all the great celluloid saint-and-sinner-ramas that he hoped to produce. Last week, to attend the century's seventh production of the 300-year-old Bavarian pageant, pilgrims 'crowded into Bavaria in Peugeots, Rolls-Royces, light aircraft, bikes and buses. As the play went on and on and on, lids closed over once reverent eyes: what everyone had come to see—from seats of softest oak—was nothing less than DeMille squared, a seven-hour pseudo-Biblical presentation with a cast of 1,600 painful amateurs. As a Variety headline cried...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!