Biblical movies have been around pretty much since the invention of motion pictures. From The Ten Commandments in 1923 and The Ten Commandments in 1956 to The Passion of the Christ in 2004 and Noah in 2014. Audiences, regardless of their belief systems, have always been fascinated with the stories of the bible. And rightfully so, even if you are not religious, it is one heck of a selection of stories. Of course the most coveted role from the bible has always been that of Jesus and much attention has always been given to whoever plays him. Jim Caviezel gained much notoriety for playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s controversial but magnificent Passion of the Christ. Willem Dafoe was also surrounded by controversy when he played Jesus for Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, another stunning masterwork. But for many film fans one performance of Jesus from 1977 still stands the test of time as one of the best portrayals ever put on screen. And it was for TV.
Jesus of Nazareth stars Robert Powell as Jesus in a film spanning his life from before the Nativity to after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Structured in chronological order and blending narratives from all four New Testament gospels, the mini series takes a realistic approach to the bible depicting Jesus not only as the Son of God but also as a human.\
Jesus of Nazareth is an absolutely beautiful, sweeping epic of a film. Which is what you would expect from a director like Franco Zeffirelli. Not only does the film have a real sense of authenticity with stunning location filming in Morocco and Tunisia, but also it has a dream cast of actors that is beyond impressive. Joining Powell is a veritable who’s who of actors at the time including Anne Bancroft, Ernest Borgnine, James Farentino, Ian McShane, Christopher Plummer, Olivia Hussey, Michael York, James Mason, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, James Earl Jones, Donald Pleasance and Ian Holm among others. And they all put in excellent work. Being a 6-hour production you would think the film would drag some but it is quite the opposite. The pacing is excellent, the scenes engaging and interesting and the acting and film design top notch. As biblical epics go, you can’t really do much better than Jesus of Nazareth. Highly recommended.