"My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" It is towards this climactic crossroads that the story of Jesus of Nazareth leads, and to which, at the final moment, it again looks back in triumphant retrospect. It is the anguishing crossroads where the eternal questions of faith and doubt become resolved.Written by
Director George Stevens shot The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) in the American Southwest, in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Pyramid Lake in Nevada represented the Sea of Galilee, Lake Moab in Utah was used to film the Sermon on the Mount, and California's Death Valley was the setting of Jesus' 40-day journey into the wilderness. Stevens explained his decision to use the United States rather than in the Middle East or Europe in 1962. "I wanted to get an effect of grandeur as a background to Christ, and none of the Holy Land areas shape up with the excitement of the American Southwest," he said. "I know that Colorado is not the Jordan, nor is Southern Utah Palestine. But our intention is to romanticize the area and it can be done better here." Forty-seven sets were constructed, on location and in Hollywood studios, to accommodate Stevens' vision. See more »
Differences from the Bible accounts, and other historical inaccuracies, are not being counted as goofs, especially when they're reliant on sectarian traditions or Renaissance/Baroque art. See more »
In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. I am He. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him, was made nothing that has been made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of man. And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness grasped it not. The greatest story ever told...
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Breathtakingly gorgeous, sensitive, powerful film.
I first saw this film when it was first released -- in the cinema and on a large screen with brilliant color and rich deep stereo sound. It was breathtaking! George Stevens Jr. did an absolutely magnificent job in crafting this outstandingly beautiful, sensitive, and powerful motion picture. This was not just a deeply moving re-telling of the story of Jesus (albeit with a touch of a pro-legend approach). More than that, in its visual sweep, insightful acting of the lead characters (especially of Max Von Sydow as Jesus), and resplendent musical track, this film conveyed a true sense of majesty -- a marked rarity in most film these days.
I must concur with one of the other online reviewers here, on a related point: I too believe that it was a shame, and an error on the part of Stevens, that various key characters were portrayed all-too-noticeably by some major film/entertainment stars who just seemed to be bizarrely out-of-place in their roles -- such as John Wayne as the Roman Centurion who, never before seen in the film until this moment, looks up at Jesus on the Cross and says "Truly, this man was the son of God!" (I almost expected Wayne to tag his line with the word "Pilgrim"); or such as singer Pat Boone, who jarringly appears in the role of a cloaked man who, sitting in Jesus' vacated tomb, says to a searching Roman, "Why seek Ye the living among the dead?" (Here too, I think that I was not the only one who half-expected Boone to leap to his feet and break out into singing one of his big hits such as "Bernardine" or "Love Letters In The Sand").
But those discontinuities aside, I would still say that "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is an outstanding film that merits very high marks. If you can see it, see it -- especially on a big screen, if possible, and with a good sound-system.
Steve S. (NYC)
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