Over the years, numerous attempts have been made to transfer the life of Christ to the screen, and one that succeeds is Franco Zefirelli's JESUS OF NAZARETH. The story is a straighforward retelling of the synoptic gospels(Matthew, Mark, and Luke), starting with the divine revelations to Mary and Joseph of their roles as Jesus's earthly parents on the the Resurrection. The score is beautific and reverent, and the big name actors who populate the film are well-cast(no Shelley Winters or John Wayne, thankfully). Also, British actor Robert Powell gives Jesus the proper reverence and poise. Zefirelli was correct to cast him; with his angular features, wavy brown hair and light eyes, this Jesus looks like every church icon and Sunday School picture I've ever seen, something Zefirelli was aware of and used to great effect. While he passes on accuracy for effect with Jesus, the apostles, it must be noted, all resemble the Hebrew peasants, publicans, and sinners they most certainly were. The length is tolerable, primarily because Zefirelli doesn't waste film on needless, arty panoramas or slow-moving dialogue. Zefirelli does keep the action moving, but one annoying technique he employs is the now dated-looking zoom close-up, but this happens infrequently. Highly recommended.
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