To me the best movie ever made about Jesus is Franco Zeferelli’s, now in HD on YouTube.
Every year about this time I lament the absence of a good copy of Franco Zefferelli
‘s Jesus of Nazareth
, which aired on low-def TV in 1977, though it was surely filmed in at least 35mm stock.
But this year, to my amazement, there is an HD version on YouTube
. It could be better but it’s not the awful VHS version that had previously been (to my knowledge) the only copy available, in stores or online.
It is beautifully and reverently directed, and features an all-star cast, most of which do an excellent job:
The script is by Anthony Burgess
and the (truly fabulous) music by Maurice Jarre
. While considered mildly controversial at the time (mostly by prickly Christian fundamentalists), it mostly combines and compresses the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life, which (lets admit) is a heck of a story. (Perhaps it matters that Zefferelli is a devout Roman Catholic.)
Some interesting bonus facts:
- Robert Powell, as Jesus, almost never blinks in the film. This is by Zefferelli’s intent.
- Zefferelli, a lifelong smoker, is still around, at 93 years old. Most of the stars in the movie are dead.
- Rotten Tomatoes actually rates it (85%).