Back in the 70s there was still the opportunity for television to be a major event, a real one and not an ‘event’ that is more the invention of PR men such as we have now. ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ was one such ‘must see’ television experience. It was broadcast in 1977 with Robert Powell as Jesus. This was in the days when I expected a white man to play Jesus as no message we ever received in school suggested other than he was white and spoke perfect English. My education happened much later!
Franco Zeffirelli directed and the cast included such greats as Laurence Olivier, Rod Steiger, Ernest Borgnine, James Mason and Ian McShane. Olivia Hussey played Mary and Anne Bancroft was Mary Magdalene. The late, great Peter Ustinov plated Herod.
It would now be labelled a ‘mini-series’ but when first broadcast it was just television, but ‘must see’ television. I have not seen it since it was first broadcast but moments have stayed with me, the most powerful of which was Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus stating quietly but calmly to the Sanhedrin that Jesus may, after all, be just what he says he is: the son of God.
I was much taken with Rod Steiger’s performance as well but mostly because I am always impressed by his performances.
‘Jesus of Nazareth’ is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?