‘Beginning before the Nativity and extending through the Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus Of Nazareth (1977) brings to life all the majesty and sweeping drama of the life of Jesus as told in the Gospels … Directed by Franco Zeffirelli and acclaimed by critics and religious leaders worldwide, Jesus Of Nazareth tells the greatest of all stories with tremendous emotion and splendour.’
Anthony Burgess wrote the screenplay for Jesus Of Nazareth, which featured an all-star cast including Robert Powell (The Detectives), Anne Bancroft (The Graduate), James Earl Jones (Star Wars), Ian McShane (Lovejoy), Rod Steiger (Doctor Zhivago), Peter Ustinov (Spartacus), Lawrence Olivier (Henry V) and many more. Burgess wrote a novel at around the same time called Man Of Nazareth, which uses much of the same dialogue but differs in some important respects from the film, especially in its use of a sceptical narrator.
Burgess says of the project in his essay ‘Telejesus (or Mediachrist’ that ‘The more I worked on my scripts, the more convinced I became that this man [Jesus] existed in dusty torrid Palestine, a disregarded colony of a great empire, and that he probably had divinity in him … Of the revolutionary nature of his programmeand its feasibility, given hard work and self-denial, I became more convinced than ever I had been when I was a good son of the Church’.
Jesus Of Nazareth is still screened all over the world, especially in Italy, parts of the United States, and certain South American countries. It is just over six hours in length and is perfect Easter viewing.