At a cost estimated between twelve and twenty million dollars, this mini-series had a budget equivalent to many feature films of the time, and was by far the most expensive made-for-television movie made at the time of production, a record it would hold for several years. See more »
The celebration of becoming a Bar Mitzvah, which Jesus is shown participating in, was not developed until medieval times. See more »
The mini-series ran on NBC as "The Big Event" in two three-hour installments with limited commercials on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Additional footage was added for a 1979 re-run and broadcast in four two-hour installments. In the 1980s and 1990, the film was re-broadcast on NBC in three installments of two and three hour episodes...released on VHS and DVD as one complete presentation with one set of credits. See more »
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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