Top critical review
One person found this helpful
The Longest Story Ever Told
on April 12, 2004
Having seen this movie twice now on TCM (in widescreen, no less), I still found my attention wandering away from the characters and towards the magnificent scenery. George Stevens last film was considered the biggest box office flop in Hollywood history until "Heaven's Gate" came out in 1980.
And no wonder, while Max Von Sydow is fine as Jesus of Nazareth, the supporting cast and cameo appearences run the gamut from inspired (Ed Wynn as an blind old man) to the insane (John Wayne as a thoughtful Roman centurian).
At times, this film seems more like a stylized retelling, rather than a faithful account. Take for example the scene of Jesus riding into Jeruselam on a donkey. Notice how nearly everyone is wearing spotless white garments. I guess the laundromat was just off camera.
But the major problem is the elephant-walk pacing of the film. It simply takes way too long to tell it's story, despite how great it is.
However, if there is a standout, it's the incredable scenery shot in perfect color hues and tones. What's even more inspired is that the film was shot on location in the American southwest. The mountains in the backgroud actually augment the "more than human" atmosphere that is the life of Jesus.
So, while it takes forever to get there, we at least get to take the scenic route.