Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

TV Mini-Series  -   -  Biography | Drama | History
8.8
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A reverent depiction of the life of Christ using the Gospel accounts.

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1977  
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
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 Jesus Christ (2 episodes, 1977)
...
 Mary Magdalene (2 episodes, 1977)
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 The Centurion (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Simon Peter (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Judas Iscariot (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Herod Antipas (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Virgin Mary (2 episodes, 1977)
Tony Vogel ...
 Andrew (2 episodes, 1977)
John Duttine ...
 John the Evangelist (2 episodes, 1977)
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 John the Baptist (2 episodes, 1977)
Jonathan Muller ...
 James I (2 episodes, 1977)
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 The Adulteress / ... (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Herodias (2 episodes, 1977)
Sergio Nicolai ...
 James II (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Joseph of Arimathea (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Nicodemus (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Caiaphas (2 episodes, 1977)
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 Pontius Pilate (2 episodes, 1977)
John Eastham ...
 Bartholomew (2 episodes, 1977)
...
 Zerah (2 episodes, 1977)
...
 Amos (2 episodes, 1977)
Keith Washington ...
 Matthew (2 episodes, 1977)
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Storyline

A reverent depiction of the life of Christ using the Gospel accounts.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

3 April 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jesús de Nazareth  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2 episodes) | (theatrical)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jesus Christ says "Talitha Cumi" when he brings the girl back to life from her death. Talitha Cumi is Aramaic which means "Little girl, rise." Aramaic was the language of first century Israel. Aramaic continued to be the language of Hebrews in early second century AD until Simon Bar Kokhba tried to revive Hebrew and tried to make Hebrew the official language of Hebrews during Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 AD). According to Book "Naming the Witch: Magic, Ideology, and Stereotype in the Ancient World" written by Kimberly B. Stratton (p. 232), Dead Sea Scrolls Archaeologist Yigael Yadin suggests that Bar Kokhba was trying to revive Hebrew by decree as part of his messianic ideology. See more »

Goofs

Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king. Jesus responds, "I am," but his lips say something else. See more »

Quotes

Simon Peter: [having denied Jesus thrice] Oh God... oh God...
[shouting]
Simon Peter: My God! Please, help me!
See more »

Connections

Version of The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Made for Television Masterpiece
27 June 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

With Franco Zeffirelli's 1977 made for television masterpiece and Anthony Burgess' screenplay, religious film simply does not get any better than this. Much as I admire Mel Gibson's monumental depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus' life in "The Passion of the Christ", I still believe that the yardstick by which all 'passion play' genre films will be judged in future generations will be "Jesus of Nazareth".

After completing "Brother Son, Sister Moon", Zeffirelli turned (the Jewish) Sir Lew Grade down flat for this project, stubbornly refusing to engage on the project for a year and a half. As his other stage and screen projects turned to dust, however, he finally accepted the task. What finally convinced him was his conviction that the film could be compassionate towards the Jews, and thus could help undo some of the past hatred for which Christianity was renowned.

Burgess and Zeffirelli was a match made in heaven: Burgess turned in a script that took great liberties with the sacred text. Zeffirelli was uneasy with his liberalism, and sought to bring the script back to a more faithful rendition; yet Burgess' awesomely effective dramatic structure remains. Interestingly, Ingmar Bergman had already been asked to turn in a treatment, apparently before Zeffirelli was ever approached. However, the Roman Catholics who had been the original driving force for the project strongly objected to Bergman's idea of a series of mini lives of Jesus, as seen from the viewpoint of different characters.

Bergman was dismissive of the final Zeffirelli project, and it is certain that it would have been an entirely different film had he been asked to direct. While there is much to respect about Bergman, he would have been totally incapable of producing the beauty, purity and meaning in the hidden text that is so apparent in the final film.

Less than seven years later, Zeffirelli estimated that 750,000 people had seen the film. I saw the original transmission on American television in 1977, (it was aired nationwide at least twice in two years), and I also have an original and ageing VHS (PAL) copy. I plan a London revival of the series during Lent 2007, to mark the film's 30th anniversary. Back in 1977, it was the talk of the nation - in St. Louis, I heard of one lady who was instantly healed of cancer as she watched the crucifixion scene.

Interestingly, the resurrection scene nearly never got filmed. In fact, what we do see on screen is simply screen test material rescued from the editing bin at the final hour! The information above is documented in Franco Zeffirelli book, "Jesus: a Spiritual Diary" (1984: NY. Harper & Row) and Ingmar Bergman's "The Magic Lantern" (1988: London: Hamish Hamilton). However, there is no substitute for watching this masterpiece: in a word, it's awesome!


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