Jesus of Nazareth (miniseries)  

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Jesus of Nazareth (Gesù di Nazareth) is a 1977 British-Italian television miniseries directed by Franco Zeffirelli and co-written by Zeffirelli, Anthony Burgess, and Suso Cecchi d'Amico which dramatises the birth, life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It stars Robert Powell as Jesus, and features an all-star cast of famous American and European actors, including eight who had won or would go on to win Academy Awards: Anne Bancroft, Ernest Borgnine, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, James Earl Jones, and Peter Ustinov.

Extra-Biblical traditions were used in the writing of the screenplay, and some characters (such as Zerah) and situations were invented for the film for brevity or dramatic purposes. Notably, Jesus of Nazareth depicts Judas Iscariot as a well-intentioned man initially, but later as a dupe of Zerah's who betrays Jesus largely as a result of Zerah's false platitudes and pretexts. However, in accordance with the Gospels, the film depicts Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea as sympathetic members of the Sanhedrin. Many of the miracles of Jesus, such as the changing of water into wine at the wedding at Cana, the transfiguration, and the calming of the storm, are not depicted, although Jesus' healing of Jairus' daughter, the blind man and the crippled woman on the Sabbath, the feeding of the multitude, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead are presented here.

Jesus of Nazareth premiered on 27 March 1977, on the Italian channel Rai 1, and was first aired in the United Kingdom, on 3 April 1976, on the ITV Network. It became a ratings success and received positive reviews.

Plot summary

The storyline of Jesus of Nazareth is a kind of cinematic Diatessaron, or "Gospel harmony", blending the narratives of all four New Testament accounts. It takes a fairly naturalistic approach, de-emphasising special effects when miracles are depicted, and presenting Jesus as more or less evenly divine and human. The familiar Christian episodes are presented chronologically: the betrothal, and later marriage, of Mary and Joseph; the Annunciation; the Visitation; the circumcision of John the Baptist; the Nativity of Jesus; the visit of the Magi; the circumcision of Jesus; the Census of Quirinius; the flight into Egypt and Massacre of the Innocents; the Finding in the Temple; the Baptism of Jesus.

Jesus tells his followers that the law of Moses is not a "dead stone," but subject to change. Other episodes in the movie include the woman caught in adultery; the healing of Jairus' daughter; Jesus helping Peter catch the fish; the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32); a dialogue between Jesus and Barabbas (non-biblical); Matthew's dinner party; the Sermon on the Mount; debating with Joseph of Arimathea; the curing of the blind man at the pool; the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:43); the Feeding of the Five Thousand; the entry into Jerusalem; Jesus and the money changers; the Parable of the Two Sons; healing the centurion's servant; dialogue with Nicodemus; the Last Supper; the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.

At the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus, Jesus is accused of blasphemy for calling himself the son of the God of Israel. Caiaphas announces "the LORD our God, the LORD is one", denying the God of Israel has a son. The ensuing scenes include Peter's denying Christ and repenting of it; the judgment of Jesus by Pilate ("Ecce Homo"); the Johannine Passion Narrative (John 18-19; including the Agony in the Garden); the Carrying of the Cross; the Crucifixion of Christ (Laurence Olivier's Nicodemus recites the "Suffering Servant" passage (Isaiah 53:3-5) as he looks helplessly on the crucified Messiah); the discovery of the empty tomb; and an appearance of the Risen Christ to his Disciples. The film's storyline concludes with the non-Biblical character Zerah and his colleagues gazing despairingly into the empty tomb. Zerah laments, "Now it begins. It all begins".

Cast

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Also Starring

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jesus of Nazareth (miniseries)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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