Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jesus of Nazareth (movie)
Jesus of Nazareth is a six-hour, sixteen-minute television miniseries of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus based on the accounts given in the Christian gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Produced by Sir Lew Grade , directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and written by Zeffirelli, Anthony Burgess and Suso Cecchi d'Amico , after Zeffirelli was approached by the Pope to make a film about Christ, Jesus of Nazareth premiered worldwide on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in 1977 and continues to be broadcast every Easter and Christmas (in the US, it's shown on the History Channel).
As attested by reviewers on imdb.com, amazon.com, and amazon.uk, it remains the most critically-acclaimed and publicly-beloved film on Jesus. Newsweek writer Harry F. Waters remarked that "rarely have the humanity and divinity of Christ been evoked with as much passion, sensitivity, and ecumenical deference as Zeffirelli has brought to the story;" and quoted Rev. Patrick Sullivan of the U.S. Catholic Conference as saying, "Zeffirelli has succeeded admirably in making Christ's story understandable to a modern secular audience" ("New Look at Jesus," April 4, 1977). For its fifth airing on US television at Easter 1987, TV Guide called it "the best miniseries of all time" and "unparallelled television."
A review in Variety read, "Passion, beauty, and brilliant storytelling are all on display in this six-hour-plus epic from Italian director Franco Zeffirelli. Robert Powell is superb in the title role, and with the overwhelming success of this TV movie throughout the world, has perhaps become what Jesus looks like in many people's minds. The story begins with the arrangements of the wedding between Joseph and Mary, and chronicles the nativity, the encounter with John the Baptist (a ferocious Michael York) and everything up to the crucifixion and resurrection. This film is beautifully shot on actual locations, with haunting music by Maurice Jarre and an all-star cast, including Anne Bancroft, Laurence Olivier, Ian Holm, Earnest Borgnine, Peter Ustinov, James Mason, Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger and Christopher Plummer. Zeffirelli has created a thorough, but never dull or dogmatic, retelling of the story, and the result is a uniquely transcendental film that holds the power to inspire no matter what the viewer's beliefs or background."
Cast members included:
- Robert Powell as Jesus
- Olivia Hussey as Mary
- Anne Bancroft as Mary Magdalene
- Ernest Borgnine as the Roman centurion
- Valentina Cortese as Herodias
- James Farentino as Peter
- James Earl Jones as Balthazar
- Stacy Keach as Barabbas
- Tony Lo Bianco as Quintillius
- James Mason as Joseph of Arimathea
- Ian McShane as Judas Iscariot
- Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus
- Donald Pleasence as Melchior
- Christopher Plummer as Herod Antipas
- Anthony Quinn as Caiaphas
- Fernando Rey as Gaspar
- Rod Steiger as Pontius Pilate
- Peter Ustinov as Herod the Great
- Michael York as John the Baptist
Zeffirelli, Franco Il Mio Gesu (Sperling & Kupfer ISBN 8878242128), translated into English as Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus: A Spiritual Diary (Harper & Row, 1984 ISBN 0060697806). A moving account of the film from conception through its final shot and the effects it has had on viewers. Of special note is the director's recounting of his prime motivation in making the film: to put an end to the belief that the Jews killed Jesus.
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