The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) 720p

Movie Poster
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) bluray - Movie Poster
Biography | Drama
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
260 min
IMDB Rating:
6.6 / 10 
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Directors: George Stevens [Director] ,

Movie Description:
"My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" It is towards this climactic crossroads that the story of Jesus of Nazareth leads, and to which, at the final moment, it again looks back in triumphant retrospect. It is the anguishing crossroads where the eternal questions of faith and doubt become resolved.


  • The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) bluray - Movie Scene 1
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) bluray - Movie Scene 2
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) bluray - Movie Scene 1

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Visual Masterpiece.

I know this film is not to everyone's taste but I regard it as a masterpiece. Nevertheless I understand why many critics panned the movie. Some found the cameo appearances of major stars in small roles as disturbing. John Wayne's part as the Centurion at the crucifixion was particularly criticized. The pace was regarded as too slow. The casting of Scandinavian star Max von Sydow as the Semetic Jesus was also criticized, as was the use of spectacular locations from the American West instead of the more drab authentic Middle East.I am more taken by the visual nature of the film. George Stephens was clearly trying to emulate the great tradition of Western Art surrounding the Gospels, and I believe he succeeded. The framing, the color, and lighting were among the most beautiful in movie history. Many scenes left an unmatched impression as if we were walking through a moving fine arts museum. As the film grows older the star cameos will be less disturbing. (They never bothered me). Younger movie goers won't recognize many of the stars of my era anyway. I thought von Sydow was excellent even though he wasn't wasn't the right ethnic type. I found the overall treatment appropriate to the sacred theme. I prefer it Nicholas Ray's more popular King of Kings with equally blue eyed Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus.But I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea. So while I loved it I would recommend it particularly to someone prepared to enjoy a slower film of great artistic beauty.

Visual beauty but a very mediocre film

The Oscar nominations received by this film in 1965 are telling. All five nominations are about costume, coloration and cinematography of the film. These are indeed stunning. But the rest of the film is mediocre at best. Max von Sydow is not at all a convincing Christ (his hairstyle's a disaster to begin with) quite by contrast to Robert Powell in "Jesus of Nazareth". Only in the Lazarus resurrection scene did I feel some of the Heart, the devotion, the passion, that must have been Jesus Christ. To that I can maybe add the scene where Jesus is clearing the temple at Passover. For the rest I could not get beyond the odd hairstyle. Von Sydow's very aristocratic and regal -was Christ an aristocratic character?- but not very divine. The rest of the cast does not work well either, to say the least. On top of that, many a scene feels unnatural and rigid. The film feels anecdotal and lacks true depth. Mr Stevens seemed to have been more preoccupied with the visuals than with screenplay, editing, character depth, casting and directing. At times the film looks like a Renaissance painting or a painting from the Romantic era. That delivers stunning visual joy -especially on my Pioneer Kuro with it's deep blacks- but not if it comes at such a huge cost. In all the piece strikes me as a visual feast but ultimately the film does not convince, especially compared to Zefirelli's Jesus of Nazareth which gets about everything right if you consider Mr Zefirelli's style and the era of his version's making. If you want to enjoy the beautiful cinematography, the colors, the scenery, do watch this film but I suggest you watch Zefirelli's depiction of Christ to get a deeper feeling for the Master, and Gibson's film if you want to grue at all the gore Christ must have gone through at the end of his mission.
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