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3.8 out of 5 stars60
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on September 19, 2001
It's unlikely that He traveled much more than a hundred miles from where he as born, He never wrote a book and historical records make note of only 30 or so days of His life. Yet He impacted history more than any other life. Hollywood has made a number of films on the life of this man named Jesus. He's often portrayed as a pretty, blue-eyed Caucasian a la Jeffrey Hunter in the under-rated "King of Kings" (crudely referred to as "I was a Teen Age Jesus" during production). New on DVD is George Stevens' massive, stately, "GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD". Although the box says this is the restored roadshow version at three hours and 19 minutes, it's my understanding the original release was nearly an hour longer. Stevens corralled just about every star in Hollywood for a cameo and it was distracting on initial release, but not so viewing it today as many of these once famous faces are less so. The film has wonderfully composed shots, in majestic or minimalist sets with exquisite lighting and deep shadows. Max von Sydow is about as good as one can expect in an impossible role. However, a stop-motion puppet Jesus from Russia with the voice of Ralph Fiennes is probably the most artistic and powerful of all movie Christs in "THE MIRACLE MAKE". This remarkable look at the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Jairus' daughter, a girl Jesus raised from the dead, is haunting and beautiful. Filmed as a coproduction with Mel Gibson's Icon Entertainment in association with a 2-D animation house in Wales and a 3-D puppet and miniature crew from Moscow. The end result is a marvelous piece of filmmaking that gets better on repeated viewings. The meaning of this solitary Life is not diluted in any way. Other characters are voiced by Julie Christie, Richard Grant, William Hurt and Miranda Richardson. The wonderfully evocative flute-heavy score is by Anne Dudley. The "making of" featurette is worth the price of the disc.
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on March 23, 2001
I must say, state and write that I was and am quite disappointed with this movie, i.e., The Greatest Story Ever Told (Special Edition) VHS ~ Max von Sydow. Part from Von Sydow and Heston (whom play Jesus and John the Baptist) the rest of the actors actually seem very disinterested to be in this movie. Heston is awesome as usual in his portrayal of John the Baptist and he is the only actor that shows raw emotions. Von Sydow does a good job as Jesus; however, at certain times his lack emotions hurt the lines and do not bring out the fire in the loaded sentences that were spoken by the man known as Jesus. Telly Savalas is not good as the Roman General and John Wayne's line is not well said at all. The visual effects, costumes and setting for the movie is all done with careful, precise and meticulous detail as to get the correct, historical and authentic fell to the movie. However, apart from the wooden performances, the movie greatest fault is its pace. To imagine that this movie in question, i.e., The Greatest Story Ever Told (Special Edition) VHS ~ Max von Sydow had been 260 minutes in its original release is hard to fathom since watching in its modern format, i.e., 195 minutes, already feels as if one is watching this movie for an eternity. So overall, I would have to end, conclude and finish this review by stating the following; there were two major flaws with this movie, 1) most of the actors did not do a good job and 2) the movies pace was equal to that of two Tylenol pm (and that in itself is never a good thing).
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on March 22, 2001
I do not think that the problem with the film is that it is too long. The problem is that it is not long enough. By cutting an hour and 5 minutes out of the film, it killed the pacing. Part 1 moves much too quickly. Part 2 moves much too slowly. The film is also shot in Ultra Panavision 70, which is presented in 2.76:1 letterboxing. That means the image is almost 3 inches wider than it is tall. Translation: Murder on your eyes! That's why I recommend either the pan-and-scan version, or the moderately letterboxed 2.35:1 version previously issued by MGM in 1996.
Other than that, the acting is good. Max Von Sydow does a good job, even if he doesn't set the world on fire as Christ. So far, Robert Powell has been the best Christ on screen. But the stunt casting (John Wayne as a Roman?????, Sidney Poitier as Simon????, Pat Boone as Andrew??????) defeats it in the end and makes it another spot the star film.
Hardly George Stevens finest film (Giant and Shane are his best films)but it's no stinker and it maintained my interest throughout. And the photography is a wow!
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on December 20, 2000
Visually magnificent, George Stevens' epic retelling of the life of Christ has much to recommend it, particularly the performance of Max Von Sydow as Jesus, but it seems so much in awe of its subject that, though it succeeds in presenting Jesus as God, it fails in presenting Him as God in human form. Did Jesus really walk this Earth? He certainly did, but I doubt that the Jesus depicted here would have ever been put to death. It is entirely too obvious that He was the Son of God. Who would have doubted Him? "The Greatest Story Ever Told" reminds me of a stained glass window: It is truly beautiful to look at, yet it never succeeds in appearing three dimensional. The film's biggest handicap, however, is the endless parade of "guest stars" (especially such incongruous figures as John Wayne and Pat Boone) whose appearance cheapens the subject matter, putting it on a par with such all-star extravaganzas as "Airport" and "The Poseidon Adventure." The film is still very much worth seeing (probably more so in the widescreen edition), but falls far short of its intentions. Franco Zefferelli's "Jesus of Nazareth" is vastly superior.
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on March 10, 2004
I recently wrote a review on Jesus Of Nazareth. Shamefully though a pitiful review of a spectacular and wonderful mini series. I started off mentioning The Greatest Story Ever Told as the definitive Christ movie til I saw Jesus Of Nazareth.But the truth is I love both these films with equal passion.I can't beleive when I read people love one but revile the other. Both of these shows offer intense drama,marvelous backdrops, tear jerking moments, and way of penetrating into the essence of your very being.But credit must be given where it is due. I find The Greatest Story Ever Told to be the superior DVD presentation. The bonus features disc is informative and entertaining.The Widescreen format is breathtaking. I know Jesus Of Nazareth was filmed for tv,but I do beleive if they pulled back far enough from the presented picture we would get a somewhat panoramic picture.The Greatest Story Ever Told is a wonderful treasure to own.
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on October 23, 2002
Reading the other reviews I lost count how many of them referred to this movie as "over-long". Frankly, one of my professors calls this "the McDonalds Mentality". Most people today, and the vast majority of us under 40 are so used to getting everything in soundbites, in between commercials, snacks (especially fast food), cell phone calls, etc. They don't have the patience to write a letter, cook a real meal, read a long book or savor a longer movie like George Stevens masterpiece "The Greatest Story Ever Told". I wish the DVD contained the original cut of the film, 260 minutes, as well as the present 195 minute presentation. The beggining of the film feels far to rushed. The ending of the film, fortunately, is sublime and true to the Gospel accounts of these profound events. A lifetime acheivment Academy Award is over-due for Max Von Sydow. Thanks for reading. CAL
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on April 19, 2001
This movie was good, no doubt about it. Very well produced and directed. GREAT cinematography. I appreciated the actors portrayal of Christ. It was a very divine portrayal. The movie is VERY reflective of Scripture and so I am surprised by some of the liberties taken by the producer. The form of Judas' suicide is certainly the most obvious liberty because it is indeed a contradiction of Canonical Gospels. The 4 Gospels are very short books - hardly screenplays - and yet the movie leaves out so many important details that are given in these books. Of the liberties taken to make this movie, I am very APPRECIATIVE that nearly all of the violence against Christ was left out of this movie. As a result of this fine production decision, I can watch this movie with my children. This is a very good movie, but it is definately not "The Greatest".
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on February 16, 2002
THRE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD may not be the best film ever made on the life of Jesus, but it's darn near close! Fine acting with breathtaking visual effects makes this film one that never ceases to entertain or inform! Max Von Sydow is a good actor, and his performance in this film as the Messiah is exceptional (his best ever.). And he is helped by an awe-inspiring cast (including Charlton Heston, Telly Savalas, Rody McDowell and John "Duke" Wayne), and the brilliant use of portions of Handel's masterpiece "MESSIAH," as well as a brilliant score by Alfred Newman. This film is amazing, and now it is preserved in it's breathtaking Cinescope Widescreen Format (2.75:1 Aspect Ratio), and has enough special features that'll keep you involved until Jesus returns, and He WILL RETURN! God be praised! Grade: A+
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on April 22, 2003
A classic example of overblown insensitive Hollywood biblical-epic filmaking. Unlike the sensitively told and awe-inspiring King Of Kings, TGSET is an overlong and unmoving experience for the viewer from start to finish, from it's corny cinematography (which makes the movie look like a Hallmark greeting card come to life) to it's unbelievably crass casting, including Pat Boone, Shelly Winters, and most notoriously John Wayne as a Roman soldier("this truly was the son of Gaawd!"). Among all the hammy scenery-chewing acting, the only person to really shine is the wonderful Max Von Sydow who sensitively attempts to portray Jesus, though his Swedish accent kind of ruins everything. Film fans would be much better off buying King Of Kings or The Gospel According To Matthew.
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on December 28, 2014
The story of Jesus Christ is indeed the greatest story ever told, but don't expect to find that great story in this version! This version of Jesus' story should be retitled "The Drowsiest Story Ever Told"! How in heaven's name did this movie get FIVE Oscar Awards? Maybe 1965 was a bad year for movies! The pace of the story is waayyyyy too slow and monotonous! When Pontius Pilot (played by Telly Savalas) comes across as more interesting than Jesus, then you know that there are some serious issues regarding the casting of actors in this movie. I'm glad that I only paid $5 for the DVD, but still, .... the movie was neither worth the $5 nor the 3+ hours watching it! Spare yourself the agony! Buy another movie (... any other movie) about Jesus. You'll be glad that you did!
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