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 !  Robert Henderson-Bland, actor, soldier et poet  

The British actor has made only half a dozen films. His role as Christ in From the Manger to the Cross changed his life.

Before playing Christ in From the Manger to the Cross, Robert Henderson-Bland had never made a film. He was a classical theater actor, member of Sir Herbert Beerbohm's company. He was also a bit of an adventurer: in 1906, he accompanied Lily Langtry on her six-month tour of South Africa. Like other actors, he had no prejudices against the new art form. But he is, in his words (Actor, Soldier and Poet, p 31), "astounded and appalled" when Sidney Olcott offers him, by telephone, the role of Christ.

He refused at first, but then agreed to meet the director. "Olcott impressed and interested me immediately." The Canadian presented him with the photos of the sequences of the escape of the Holy Family, shot in Egypt. "I realized that no ordinary man was handling this tremendous enterprise". (Actor, Soldier and Poet, p 31).

Henderson-Bland is convinced. He goes to Jerusalem. A little apart from his comrades, he plays a very penetrating and convincing Christ. From the Manger to the Cross is a worldwide success. The Englishman did not make a fortune out of it, just a little fame in New York where he went at the time of the film's release. He was invited to the city. Everyone wants to see the phenomenon.


©2009 Michel Derrien