Home / Culture and Society / Spirituality / Movie Review: Jesus Of Nazareth

Movie Review: Jesus Of Nazareth

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Since Thomas Edison's invention of the modern cinema, countless filmmakers have endeavored to produce a moving picture that accurately chronicles the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.

Aside from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which chronicled only a part of the life and crucifixion of Jesus, Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth is the greatest of all. Originally aired as a television mini-series (it's over six hours in length), the film closely adheres to the word-for-word accounts found in the Gospels.

The story begins with Joseph (Yorgo Voyagis) and Mary's (Olivia Hussey) reception of God's angels. Each is told of the child that Mary will bear and what his name will be. The scene where Mary receives her message is an especially powerful piece of cinematic artistry with no dialogue, only a warm light surrounding Mary as she bows in prayer. The film holds true to every utterance in the Gospels, recounting the census, Herod's decree, and the travels of Joseph and Mary.

As Jesus (Robert Powell) develops into adulthood, we witness the beginning of his ministry. He calls on his disciples, teaches through use of parables, and displays many miracles. Zeffirelli makes powerful use of the camera by making sure his star, Powell, is never caught blinking in any scene.

At first, it's barely noticeable and it takes some time to figure out what is so different. But this absence of the uniformly common trait of blinking creates a divine aura around the character of Jesus. It draws the audience in by creating an emotional sense of peace that lends credibility to the onscreen portrayal of Jesus.

From beginning to end, Jesus of Nazareth offers a plethora of memorable scenes and exchanges, which are more attributable to the Gospels and the actual life of Jesus rather than brilliant direction and acting ability.

The subject matter is aptly handled by a great production team and an endless array of first-rate actors and actresses, among them are:- Mary Magdalene (Anne Bancroft), the Centurion (Ernest Borgnine), Simon Peter (James Farentino), Balthazar (James Earl Jones), Joseph of Arimathea (James Mason), Nicodemus (Laurence Olivier), Caiaphas (Anthony Quinn), and many others.

Overall, the individual performances come together to form a rich tapestry of wisdom and intrigue that will leave its audience with much upon which to reflect and ponder. If you believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah (which this author does), then Jesus of Nazareth serves as a form of meditation and renewal of one's spiritual connection to God.

If you don't view Jesus in this way, no other film will leave you in such awe of the profound influence promulgated by a humble, sandal-clad man from a province on the outskirts of mighty Rome – an influence that has completely dominated the world for almost two thousand years.

For spiritual, philosophical, and cinematic reasons, Jesus of Nazareth is a definite must-see film for the ages.

Britt's Rating: 9.7/10

Powered by

About Britt Gillette

  • C H

    Thank you for your wonderful review of “Jesus of Nazareth,” which is not only my favorite film or television program of all time, but my favorite work of art of all time.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that this film is “a rich tapestry of wisdom and intrigue that will leave its audience with much upon which to reflect and ponder;” that “no other film will leave you in such awe;” that it is “a form of meditation and renewal of one’s spiritual connection to God;” and that this screen Jesus “draws in the audience.” I’ve seen fifty Jesus films and television programs, and this is the *only* screen Jesus I believe people would give up their lives for. I’ve also read hundreds of reviews of this film, and yours is by far my favorite.

  • duane

    It was an excellent movie, with several moving scenes. Nothing like having parts of the NT acted out … with music. My whole family sat together in the living room glued to the set for the whole … what .. three nights. I remember some people getting upset that a blue-eyed actor was chosen for the role of Jesus.

  • it was the worst movie ever on jesus our chaplain made us watch it he looks like santa claus lol

  • jesus is a bitch in the movie he looks horny lol

  • Nazareth

    the two idiots above me serve satan

  • Amen Nazareth!

  • Dave Wilson

    I tried to watch Gibson’s much-lauded Passion of the Christ, but the extended, visceral scenes of torture ultimately deflect from the central truth and teachings of Christ. This production is perfectly balanced. I felt grief and horror watching the scenes leading up to the crucifixion, but more because of the audible mocking from the crowd and the all-too-human fickleness of the turncoat mob.
    I agree with CH, Powell’s is the only dramatic portrayal of Jesus I have seen which rings true. Simply superb.

  • Ken

    If there’s a good print of this film somewhere it should be completely remastered, and released on blu-ray.