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Jesus of Nazareth

By Paul Gaita

Originally made for TV in 1977, this in-depth (six hours plus) version of Jesus' life is so thorough that the first hour is devoted solely to the story of his birth. The film doesn't skimp on some of the other landmark events of this famous story either. Director Franco Zeffirelli gives more than 12 minutes screen time each to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.

Passages of the Bible are quoted verbatim, the locations have a Palestine-like authenticity, and, aside from some of the principals (Robert Powell as Jesus, Olivia Hussey as Mary, and Stacy Keach as Barabbas), many of the non-Roman characters are actually played by Semitic-looking actors. Zeffirelli diligently provides the sociopolitical background that gave rise to Jesus' following and the crisis in belief it caused for the people of Israel (and one or two Romans).

While not graphic by today's standards, some of the scenes--baby boys being ripped from their mothers' arms and slaughtered, nails being driven into Jesus' hands--may disturb young and/or sensitive children.

NBC aired the miniseries as a pair of three hour episodes on Palm and Easter Sunday as part of their Big Event Sunday lineup. Additional footage was added for a 1979 rebroadcast, which was aired as three two hour episodes.

 

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: April 3, 1977

Cast: Olivia Hussey, Ian McShane, Christopher Plummer, Robert Powell, Rod Steiger, Anne Bancroft, James Mason, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov

Network: NBC

Genre: Miniseries

Theme song

Image courtesy of NBC


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Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Service.
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