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
Not only was Jeffrey Hunter's chest hair shaved for the crucifixion scene but his underarms as well. So much attention has been paid to this situation over the past fifty years, that nobody's ever noticed Hunter also wears a false putty nose throughout the film, most evident in the close-ups at the crucifixion scenes. See more »
During Jesus' walk through the wilderness, he drops to the ground to suck water out of a cactus. Cactus is native to North America, and there are no cactus plants in the Mideast. See more »
[to Jesus, who is trying to visit John the Baptist in prison]
For some reason, I favored Your mother once before. I will give You a moment with the prisoner John. But remember this... break Caesar's law, and you shall find in me the most merciless of men.
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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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