The story of the life of Jesus Christ from his birth in Bethlehem to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Filmed on a relatively grand scale, the film includes all of the major events referred to in the New Testament; his baptism by John the Baptist; the miracles - cripples walking, blind men seeing; the fishes and the loaves; and so on. The film actually begins with the Roman invasion by Pompey in 65 B.C., the appointment of King Herod the Great by the Romans and finally the crowning of Herod Antipas after he murders his father. The revolt led by Barrabas is also included and John the Baptist's beheading as Salome's price for dancing for Herod. Written by
Hurd Hatfield was only cast as Pontius Pilate after a number of British heavyweights had passed on the part. See more »
When Lucious is reading a scroll of Jesus' activities for Herod, Pilate, and others, he recounts the feeding of 5000 with two fish and five loaves of bread. But Lucious can be clearly seen to say "five" fish while the soundtrack says "two". See more »
John the Baptist:
[to Lucius, who is about to arrest him]
Take me. But, you cannot stop Him who comes after me.
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There certainly has been a plethora of films about Jesus over the years, from deMille's silent "King of Kings" up to the present day TV mini-series. I feel that this version is clearly the winner. The film is never sensational or vulgar, as are so many biblical "epics," but is extremely moving in its dignified manner. The screenplay is intelligent, the photography gorgeous, and the acting, by an unusual cast not known for its stellar draw, is uncommonly good. Nicholas Ray's direction is first-rate, and the soaring Miklos Rozsa score is unforgettable. Jeffrey Hunter was unfairly ridiculed when the film was first released, and I believe gives a highly underrated performance as Christ. Even the minor players are superb, with the late Brigid Bazlen a frighteningly disturbed Salome. Compared to "King of Kings," George Stevens' "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is embarassingly bad. All in all, a highly worthwhile film experience, told without the glitz and excesses native to so many of those of its ilk.
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