This was a mini series retelling the life of Jesus Christ, adapted from the Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible.
Jesus of Nazareth has an impressive cast of respected actors. Yet, the performances vary in quality. Some. like Sir Peter Ustinov, and Ernest Borgnine, gave rather pedestrian performances where they just recited their lines in period costumes.
The stand out actors are Robert Powell, who portrayed Jesus Christ, and English actor, Michael York, who gave a compelling performance as John the Baptist.
Zefirelli’s Jesus Christ is a very human, yet is someone who believes that they are God in human form. One writer said that in Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ is portrayed as ‘a vacant eyed weirdo...”
How does this compare to other films about Jesus? Films from the 1970s, such as the rock musicals, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, portrayed Jesus as a blond, light skinned man, as did the Jesus film. In some instances, he came across as some kind of hippy, radical, and revolutionary type figure.
A clay - animation film from the early 2000s, The Miracle Maker, portrayed Jesus smiling, and laughing with his disciples and the people he met.
Some have called Jesus of Nazareth grim. Yet it must be remembered that the first century AD was a time when life was hard for a lot of people. People would die from diseases that are easily treatable and preventable today, and life expectancy was low.
Women and children had little status, and the disabled were very much on the margins of society. How these people were treated was portrayed with much restraint.
History records that the Romans who occupied Palestine at that time, could be very brutal.
Jesus of Nazareth will not put to rest all the conjecture outside the Christian church about who Jesus was, and what he was trying to achieve, but it will provoke much discussion.