Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is the mini-series, “Jesus of Nazareth” (1977)
Ever so often some Hollywood producer gets a wild hair. He just has to do Jesus. Again. Even though the life of Jesus has been done over and over again. And I’ve seen a good many of them.
I’ve seen “King of Kings”. I’ve seen “Son of God”. I’ve seen “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. I’ve seen “The Passion of the Christ”. I’ve seen Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”. I’ve seen “Godspell”. I’ve seen “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I’ve even seen “The Last Temptation of Christ”. I never could figure out why so many made such a big deal out of “The Last Temptation”. After all, Willem Dafoe portrayed a whiney, complaining Jesus. Who would follow this guy?
And I’ve read the four Gospels. Several times.No movie but one has done justice to the life of Jesus. Only Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth”.
Yes, that Franco Zeffirelli. The director of the movies “Taming of the Shrew” (1967), “Romeo and Juliet” (1968), “Hamlet” (1990), “Tea With Mussolini” (1999) and the best movie of the life of St. Francis “Brother Sun Sister Moon” (1972). “Jesus of Nazareth” is his masterpiece.
It was the heyday of the mini-series. The days of “Rich Man, Poor Man”, “Shogun”, “The Thorn Birds”, and “Roots”, of “Masterpiece Theater” just coming into its popularity. It was way before “John Adams”, “Game of Thrones” and “Orange is the new black”.
For over six hours, we watched “Jesus of Nazareth”. Some watched to see if Zeffirelli had been true to the script of the Gospels. He had. Others watched it and thought that this was great television. I belonged to that second group.
For the first time, I got all four Gospels in one film. Sure, there were some events missing, such as the Cana miracle. But that was to be expected for a six-hour dramatic presentation. I got a lot more than the films before and since have given me.
And I got to see all the usual suspects. Mary and Joseph, Herod and Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalen and Simon Peter, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, John the Baptist and the Magi, Judas Iscariot and Barabbas, and all the others I read about.in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And Robert Powell as Jesus knocked the ball out of the park as far as I am concerned. Unlike so many other portrayals of Jesus, his was a Jesus for whom I would give up everything and follow.
To all my Christian friends, may your Easter be a good one.