ITC Films, RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana, Italy, UK, 1977.
Josef (Yorgo Voyagis) and Mary (Olivia Hussey) are betrothed. At night Mary gets God's message to go see her cousin Elizabeth (Marina Berti) who has gotten baby John who will become John the Baptist. Maria is now also pregnant and will get God's child. Joseph hesitates to marry Maria now, as that would be against the law of Israel but God says that everything will be alright.
John the Baptist (Michael York) preaches about coming of Messiah and baptizes Jesus (Robert Powell). Herod Antipas (Christopher Plummer) captures John. Jesus gathers the disciples and starts modernizing the rigid Jewish law system. Salome (Isabel Mestre), manipulated by her mother Herodias (Valentina Cortese), demands to have John the Baptist's head.
|John the Baptist|
|Isabel Mestre as Salome|
Jesus continues performing miracles. He gets two new followers: Judas Iskariot (Ian McShane) and Mary Magdalene (Anne Bancroft). Political intrigue around Jesus continues as the rebels and the rabbis would like to use him for their own purposes. Jesus goes to Jerusalem and teaches about loving thy neighbours. Jesus curses those who would like to deny Heaven from common people and those who are twisting religion to serve their own purposes.
The Jewish priests decide fate of Jesus. Despite dissenting opinions they give Jesus to Romans and Jesus is crucified.
|Ian Holm as Zerah|
The cast is strong and production values high. Music was composed by composer of epic soundtracks Maurice Jarre. The Biblical epics are always perfect chance for film buffs to play Spot the Star. Hey, it has Ian McShane as Judas Iskariot. Peter Ustinov as Herod the Great, Rod Steiger as Pontius Pilate, Anthony Quinn as Caiaphas and Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus. The Three Magi have Fernando Rey as Caspar, Donald Pleasence as Melchior, James Earl Jones as Balthazar. And many more. Robert Powell's Jesus has dreamer's eyes and solemn charisma. There is almost Ingmar Bergman style mystical humanism.
|Ernest Borgnine as Centurion|
|James Earl Jones as Balthazar|
Rating: Very good