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Open Access Samson’s “Thorn Bush” Tagging of Delilah Within Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949): Pricking One’s Scriptural Conscience?

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Samson’s “Thorn Bush” Tagging of Delilah Within Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949): Pricking One’s Scriptural Conscience?

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Legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille was a seminal cofounder of Hollywood, a progenitor of Paramount Pictures, and an unsung auteur who was not only an early pioneer of the religion-and-film genre but became the undisputed master of the American biblical epic. However, the many deftly engineered sacred subtexts, thematic preoccupations, and aesthetic skills of this movie trailblazer were frequently denied, derided or dismissed during his lifetime and decades thereafter. This situation is in need of re-examination, rectification and renewal. Consequently, following a close reading of Samson and Delilah (1949) and a selective review of the critical DeMille, film and religion literature, this article uses Delilah’s (Hedy Lamarr) “thorn bush” tag, given to her during the wedding feast confrontation scene with Samson (Victor Mature), to explicate ten thorn bush themes that reveal some of the hidden depths of C.B.’s biblical artistry. Utilising textually-based humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens, this article concludes that DeMille was a far defter biblical filmmaker than has hitherto been appreciated. Further research into DeMille studies, biblical epics, and the religion-and-film field is warranted, recommended and already long overdue.

Affiliations: 1: Deakin University, Australia

10.1163/21659214-90000062
/content/journals/10.1163/21659214-90000062
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Legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille was a seminal cofounder of Hollywood, a progenitor of Paramount Pictures, and an unsung auteur who was not only an early pioneer of the religion-and-film genre but became the undisputed master of the American biblical epic. However, the many deftly engineered sacred subtexts, thematic preoccupations, and aesthetic skills of this movie trailblazer were frequently denied, derided or dismissed during his lifetime and decades thereafter. This situation is in need of re-examination, rectification and renewal. Consequently, following a close reading of Samson and Delilah (1949) and a selective review of the critical DeMille, film and religion literature, this article uses Delilah’s (Hedy Lamarr) “thorn bush” tag, given to her during the wedding feast confrontation scene with Samson (Victor Mature), to explicate ten thorn bush themes that reveal some of the hidden depths of C.B.’s biblical artistry. Utilising textually-based humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens, this article concludes that DeMille was a far defter biblical filmmaker than has hitherto been appreciated. Further research into DeMille studies, biblical epics, and the religion-and-film field is warranted, recommended and already long overdue.

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/content/journals/10.1163/21659214-90000062
2014-12-06
2018-06-18

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