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Mike Frank's excellent post on Christ figures mentions Billy Budd as Christ
figure and brings to mind the excellent film based on Melville's novel.  The
novel sets up Cpt. Vere as a man who takes on the God-like responsibility of
deciding
the fate of a young man whose Christ-like innocence makes him, in a sense,
too good for this world.  Two elements of the film have always stood out in
my mind.
 
(a) The casting is superb.  Melvyn Douglas as the Dansker.  Peter Ustinov
doing a marvelous job of "playing God" as Vere.  Robert Ryan as the Satanic
Master-at-Arms Claggart.  And Terence Stamp as Billy Budd.  (Has any actor
ever run a spectrum as wide as to be starring in "Billy Budd" and "Priscilla,
Queen of the Desert"?)
 
(b) I do have one quibble with the film.  The ending features what to me is
the ultimate example of redundant, superfluous, intrusive voiceover
narration.
 Even so, largely on the strength of its casting, "Billy Budd" is an inspired
adaptation of a literary work to the screen and, in the hanging scene at the
end, a definite candidate for any study of Christ figures in film.
 
Dan Gribbin
Ferrum College (Virginia)
 
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