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
The film began life as a very personal project for director John Farrow, who had recently made John Paul Jones (1959) for producer Samuel Bronston. Farrow, an ardent convert to Roman Catholicism and quite possibly the only Hollywood director ever to be made a Papal Knight, called the project "The Sword And The Cross" and planned to use only the words of the Bible for dialogue. His script was deemed impossible to film and producer Bronston elected to proceed without him. Farrow never directed a film again. See more »
Two boys arrive running when Jesus is healing a paralyzed man and then change places several times between shots. See more »
I recently saw this film for the first time in a long time. I had seen CBS's miniseries "Jesus" last year and was moved (see my review of that film). I must say that I was completely blown away by Jeffrey Hunter's performance. While he does not come off as warm as Jeremy Sisto in "Jesus", I am told that his portrayal is more accurate (in how the bible paints Jesus).
Furthermore, Jeffrey Hunter brings an element of mystery to the role of Jesus, and I am not surprised that there are accounts of extras being moved by seeing him in his costume. Some critics have denounced the director for casting an "pretty-boy" as Jesus. Do they think that the son of God was not attractive? Please!!! When God created his son, he produced his most perfect creation. It is not possible to be too attractive to play Jesus. Jesus was probably better looking than any man that has ever existed, or will ever exist. Just because Jesus dressed in poor garments does not change his divine origin. Therefore, contrary to detracting from his performance, Hunter's stunning looks give him an otherwordly quality. His blue eyes are intense and penetrating---his voice soft and melodious---his mannerisms lordly. This is a man who people could believe was Jesus!
All of the supporting cast provided good performances. I particularly liked how Pontius Pilate, Judes, Herod, and Barrabas were presented, although I think that there were too many scenes of Barrabas and too few of Jesus. Also the Virgin Mary did not interact with Jesus enough, and Mary Magdalene kept darting in and out of scenes, and you would have to know a little bit about the bible to figure out her significance.
Also, why were Jesus' miracles read off a list or eluded to instead of shown? I like the way that Jesus' miracles were shown in the miniseries "Jesus". I do not think any great special effects were employed for those scenes, yet there were very powerful.
Of all the scenes in the film, I like the Sermon on the Mount, the meeting between Jesus and John the Baptist in prison (there are only two lines in that scene, but the silent communication between them is truly extraordinary), and the trial before Pontius Pilate (Jesus shows great dignity and courage in refusing to play into Pilate's hands).
I appreciate the director's desire to exercise tact in the crucifiction (spelling?) scene, but I agree with the person posting on this site who said that the crucifiction did not look painful the way that it was presented. It is important for the audience to grasp how much Jesus endured for humanity, and that is not shown as effectively as it could be. However, I found myself cringing as Jesus was flogged, so this part of the film is not without power.
All in all, a great film!
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