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
Everything fits together as soon as the film opens with Orson Welles' narrating the story of the Son of God. Little Jesus grows up to be the very American and impossibly blue-eyed Jeffrey Hunter (his opening scene with Robert Ryan's Baptist is superb), who goes on to cure the lame, the insane, the blind, rehabilitate Mary Magdelene, and all the usual things. Hunter is very good in the role, which may have been surprising at the time given his previous form in Westerns (and later in Star Trek's pilot episode!). Other good points - Hurd 'Dorian Gray' Hatfield as Pilate, the dance of the seven veils, the ending, the glorious score ...
It fits together better than The Greatest Story Ever Told, which got too starry and was spoiled by John Wayne's son of gawd. Here everyone knows their place and the religious context remains unscathed by the whitewash of Hollywood. Excellent.
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