Jesus Of Nazareth
This is an excellent film directed by Franco Zeferelli and starring Robert Powell. It charts the whole narrative of Jesus'life, death and resurrection with remarkable clarity and passion. Many scenes are extremely powerful, particularly the miracle of the raising of Lazarus.
This version stirs up many feelings and emotions that are quite unique to this film, where thought provoking scenes challenge your beliefs and lay waste to indifference. It has a star studded cast, including Peter Eustinov, who plays the eccentric and disturbing King Herod, James Mason as an eminent Jewish leader and Anthony Quinn as the High Priest. Michael York is the mendicant preacher John the Baptist-by far the best role I have seen him play.
The conflict between the Jewish authorities and Jesus is polarized, as they both fight for the souls of the Jewish nation. This uncovers the political intrigue of the temple, its economy, beliefs and power structures. Jesus' message challenges and confronts the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders, by its simplicity and honesty: love God and your neighbour above all else. But this simple request, which stand in complete contrast to the complicated and ritualistic Jewish laws, challenges the authorities, and leads to where they plot against him to have him executed.
Rod Steiger plays a great role as the reluctant executioner of Jesus, who feels obliged to crucify him, at the behest of the Sanhedrin. The trial of Jesus focuses on a real sense of the innocence of Jesus and his simple message, as he refuses to accept that his kingdom is anything other than the kingdom of heaven, which this earthly kingdom is projected into a pale comparison.
The apostles are typically human, and Zeferelli does much to portray the realism of how the apostles must have felt when their lives were turned upside down by this amazing miracle worker, who challenged his contemporaries.
The conclusion of the film is extremely moving, when Jesus appears to his frightened disciples, that were hiding in the upper room. Jesus renews their beliefs and faith, as he sits with them and delivers a very personal and intimate message of how he will return to his father, now that his redemptive work is done. Jesus turns the disciples fear into abject joy and empowerment as they finally see that Jesus is exactly who he said he was,the Messiah,and that he had achieved all that he said that he would. Jesus' promise to remain with the disciples and be present with them in a supernatural way, as they carry on his mission, is also a very inspirational imperative that is imprinted in history, and which projects forward into the future and indeed until the end of time.
I really enjoyed this film, and watched all four hours (2dvds) in one sitting, and found that that it both moved and challenged my own beliefs in a very constructive and emotive way. You do not need to be a theologian or a religious minded person to enjoy this film, because much of the content is explained along the way. This adaption comes highly recommended and a must for anyone who is looking for a greater focus, meaning or even simply something to stir the imagination, then this is the film. I am sure that I will b watching it again-when I can find a spare four or so hours!