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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Portrayal of Jesus
This is a great companion to "The Passion of the Christ" that focuses on the teachings and man that was Jesus Christ. Max von Sydow's Jesus has a commanding presence that is missing in the other portrayals. His voice can boom with the voice of God when it wants to, and can also grow soft and soothing. His appearance is also more believable than the surfer dude...
Published on April 11 2004

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Longest Story Ever Told
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,...
Published on April 12 2004 by McGillicutty


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5.0 out of 5 stars It's my turn again, March 10 2004
By A Customer
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood tells story of Jesus with stars and cameos., March 8 2004
To be perfectly honest, I prefer JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977). I have tried three times to get into this version with Max von Sydow as "Jesus" in The Greatest Story Ever Told and that it is and I think it was wonderul for the people of 1965, that needed to see a film like this. But tweleve years later, "Jesus Of Nazareth" (1977), a television mini-series was broadcast with Robert Powell as "Jesus". It was so much more accurate and so emotional. But now I will sit through 3 hours and 18 minutes of The Greatest Story Ever Told. Here it my review. The locations look like Arizona. I enjoyed the beautiful locations and soundstage sets. So many actors. So many familar faces. I dare not name them all here, but a few. Jose Ferrer, Charlton heston, Donald Pleasance, David McCullum, Telly Savalas, Roddy McDowall, Sal Mineo, Jamie Farr, Karen Black, Shelley Winters, Ed Wynn, Martin Landau, David Hedison, Sidney Poitier and John Wayne. Many cameo appearances. There are alot of gentile actors in the cast. Jesus at the Grand Canyon? Sometimes a littlee Hollywood magnificence is good for a film. VHS version includes Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte, Exit music. I prefer to see Max von Sydow as "Father Merrin" in THE EXORCIST (1973).
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Jesus, March 7 2004
By 
Alan Cayton "alancayton.com" (Dobbs Ferry, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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The one thing that sets this film apart from the others is the depth and spiritual beauty that Max Von Sydow brings to his characterization of Jesus.Charelton Heston is also very moving as the babtist.
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1.0 out of 5 stars THE LIVING REPRESENTATION OF THE LORD!!!!, March 5 2004
By 
THERE IS NOTHING TO SAY!!!! THE MUSIC SCORE WAS ONLY THING WORTH MENTIONING. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND INSPIRATIONAL!!!! JESUS WAS IN HIS EARLY THIRTIES. MAX VON SYDOW LOOKED LIKED FIFTY!!!!
EXTREMELY POOR CHOICE! JEFFERY HUNTER PORTAYED A MOST FITTING JESUS IN "KING OF KINGS!!!!" THIS FILM WAS A TRUE DIAPPOINTMENT!!!! EVEN TO SEE AND HEAR JOHN WAYNE SPEAK HIS ONE LINE AS A ROMAN CENTURION,"THREW ME FOR A LOOP!!!!" HEY PILGRIM, YOU WERE IN THE WRONG PICTURE!!!!
"KING OF KINGS" IS THE GREATEST LIVING PORTRAYAL OF JESUS OF NAZARETH!!!! AND ALWAYS WILL BE!!!! THIS ONE FALL FLAT!!!!
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1.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Story Never Told, Feb. 28 2004
I hate this movie! Of all the Jesus movies I have seen this is the worst! It is as bad as the awful book! Jesus looks and talks like a hairy German and not a Jew! There are the usual Hollywood gaffes such as Judas throwing himself into a Temple fire instead of hanging himnself, and other such nonsense. The movie has a cast of popular actors, all of whom appear out place and time with the characters they are trying to portray. If I had to pick a Jesus movie to scandalize Christianity worse than the Last Temptation of Christ, the Greatest Story Ever Told would be it! I hated this movie when it came out and I hate it still!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Movie About Jesus!, Dec 1 2003
The Greatest Story Ever Told is one of my favorite movies about Jesus. My favorite movie is Jesus of Nazareth but I like this movie too and I think Max Van Sydow and Charlton Heston were very good as Jesus and John the Baptist and I think the only flaw with this movie is with all of the cameos by popular Hollywood actors, some were good but others were badly miscast but that doesn't distract from what a wonderful movie this is and from the actors who really were right for this movie and gave brilliant performances. I had this movie on tape and I'm wanting to buy it on DVD and I recommend The Greatest Story Ever Told very greatly and I rate this 5 stars just for the excellent acting by Max Van Sydow and Charlton Heston!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Flawed, But Imposing All The Same, Oct. 20 2003
By 
Erik North (San Gabriel, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Because of the subject matter, the life of Jesus Christ, of whom more blood and ink have been spilled than any other human being to have ever walked the Earth, no one film can really be called THE definitive telling of this story. But George Stevens put six years of blood and sweat into making a film that would come awfully close to being just that--THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. In its time, this movie ranked as one of the most expensive ever made by a major Hollywood studio at $20 million. In its original form, it also ranked as one of the longest as well, at four hours and twenty minutes. It was also critically savaged and did only so-so at the box office, though it was far from a commercial flop.
Although it doesn't exactly stick to the letter of the Good Book, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD still depicts the life of Jesus from his birth to his eventual crucifixtion and resurrection with remarkable accuracy. Several scenes, including Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist, are among the most moving ever filmed. Stevens, who co-wrote the massive tome of a script with James Lee Barrett and Carl Sandburg, filmed on location amongst the vast panorama of the Colorado River basin along the Utah/Arizona border as a stand-in for the actual Holy Land, a move for which critics seemed unable to slam him enough, but which I think worked anyway. Three composers--Alfred Newman, Hugo Friedhofer, and Fred Steiner--are credited with the massive score, and the use of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from George Frideric Handel's great oratorio "Messiah" was a cagey choice on Stevens' part.
One aspect about GREATEST STORY that obviously continues to raise eyebrows and no shortage of ire to this very day is the fact that Stevens seemingly cast half of Hollywood's acting elite in what were primarily cameo roles. This had been done before in films like THE LONGEST DAY and HOW THE WEST WAS WON, to name just two, and would be done again and again in the coming decades. I think that Stevens' flaw was not that he cast so many Hollywood heavyweights, but that he placed a number of them into roles they probably weren't cut out for.
Max von Sydow had the ultimate acting challenge of portraying Jesus of Nazareth here; and given the weight and expectations of Western civilization being imposed on him, he came off extraordinarily well. Charlton Heston, no stranger to Biblical epics he, also gave a tremendous performance as John the Baptist, one that one would expect from an actor of his stature. Telly Savalas, years before "Kojak", gives a steely portrait of Pontius Pilate; and Donald Pleasance, many years before HALLOWEEN, makes a very convincing Dark Hermit (a.k.a. Satan).
In the other roles, Stevens' choice of casting ranges from interesting (Roddy McDowall, Sidney Poitier, Dorothy McGuire, David McCallum) to a bit questionable (Robert Blake, Sal Mineo, Pat Boone [though Boone's later conversion to Christian music makes his presence here far less jarring now than it did then]). But even now, Stevens' casting of John Wayne as a Roman centurion during the Crucifixtion scene is hard to swallow. It's hard to mistake Wayne's drawl with the one line he has ("Truly, this man was the son of God"), and just as hard not to crack a smile at the flat way he renders it.
Still, despite the occasional miscating, the extreme length, and the near-impossibility of getting it 100% correct for everyone, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD is quite an achievement in cinematic history. Without a whole arsenal of special effects to work with, but with an imposing reputation all his own, Stevens made a definitive Hollywood epic that perhaps needs to be re-examined--hopefully in the original state that it was released.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A film full of beautiful images - think moving paintings, Aug. 28 2003
By 
Craig Matteson (Saline, MI) - See all my reviews
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In our time of fast cuts, limited character development, and two-word dialogue, this movie could not be made. It is visually beautiful and is a bit like watching moving paintings rather than moving pictures. I find the slow pace more exquisite and beautiful than long and boring. There are things that should be experienced in long phrases and bathed in time rather than crushed in a time compactor. The story of the life of Christ seems the most appropriate for this treatment.
I do find the huge vistas in the west rather strange because I have seen a great deal of footage from the Holy Land. Yes, this movie could not have been made in the historical setting, but the huge and coursing River Jordan in this movie is awfully different than the more-creek-than-River Jordan. But, setting the setting aside as dramatic license, I do find Max von Sydow's performance beautiful.
What is most interesting about this movie is that none of the action seems life-like, but it all seems so appropriate and right for the story it is telling. As I said, think of moving paintings and you will get a better idea of what to expect when you see this film.
Is it a great film? I think there are films about Jesus that are more appealing to me. But as von Sydow points out in one of the extras on the making of the movie, everyone has their own view of where Christ fits in and it is impossible to make a film that won't disagree with someone's settled view. I think this is a very good film that holds up well for what it intended to be. For my taste, by showing the miracles it clearly shows the miraculous nature of Jesus, but it doesn't seem to come down firmly enough on his Divinity. It seems to want to have it both ways, the final Christ in the Clouds notwithstanding. But that is my view.
One of the criticisms of the film in its time was that the many cameos by famous stars were distracting. In the documentary Stevens is quoted as saying that the day would come when no one would know the stars in those cameos and would just see the film. My children are that generation. I have to tell them who all these stars were. But they have a hard time with the pace of the film because they are used to much quicker cuts and a different kind of film language. I encourage them to just sit back and bathe in the beauty of the images and listen to the language and the spaces between the words as music.
In my view, it is a film very much worth watching and there is much that is masterful in this film, but I think it falls somewhat short of being a truly great film although Sydow gives a great performance as Jesus.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A huge sprawling Biblical epic, Aug. 16 2003
By 
T O'Brien (Chicago, Il United States) - See all my reviews
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The Greatest Story Ever Told is a huge epic movie that boasts an impressive cast full of Hollywood notables. The movie follows the life of Jesus from his birth in a stable in Bethlehem to his teachings with his disciples all the way to his crucifixion and Resurrection. Because the film is so huge, many parts of the life of Jesus are just skipped over and talked about later by characters who saw it happen or heard about it. This is surprisingly effective to show how quickly Jesus' notoriety spread throughout the area. There are several very good scenes done with no sound except for Alfred Newman's fantastic score even though we know people in the background are screaming at Jesus as he walks by carrying the cross. One particularly effective scene involves Simon of Cyrene, played by Simon Poitier, helping Jesus carry the cross after he has fallen. As Jesus gets up, he grabs onto Simon's arm who helps him go on. It is a very short scene, but nonetheless very moving.
The cast for this movie could go on for pages. Max von Sydow gives an excellent performance as Jesus Christ, although he might not look like the usually accepted idea of Jesus. Charlton Heston and Telly Savalas also give very good performances as John the Baptist and Pontius Pilate. The film also stars David McCallum as Judas, Jose Ferrer as Herod Antipas, Dorothy McGuire as Mary, Martin Landau as Ciaphias, Donald Pleasence as Satan(although he is credited as the Dark Hermit), and many others. The film also stars Michael Anderson JR, Roddy McDowall, Victor Buono, Ed Wynn, Sal Mineo, Ina Balin, Carroll Baker, Van Heflin, Jamie Farr, and so many more. There are several very small cameos most notably John Wayne, Shelley Winters, Sidney Poitier, and Claude Rains all of which are pretty good for how small they are. The Special Edition DVD offers the widescreen presentation, theatrical trailer, making of documentary, an altered scene during the crucifixion scene, still gallery, and a filmmaker's documentary. For an excellent look at the life of Jesus, if somewhat sanitized, check out The Greatest Story Ever Told!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do..., April 22 2003
By 
R. Lewis - See all my reviews
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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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The Greatest Story Ever Told (Bilingual) [Import]
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