FOR PASSOVER NIGHT, MUCH TO BE REMEMBERED, I WATCHED THE EPIC 1965 MOVIE "THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD" - 3 HOURS AND 19 MINUTES.
WITH SUCH MOVIES OF JESUS YOU FIRST HAVE TO IGNORE THE ERRORS.
YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THAT EVEN WITH A MOVIE OVER 3 HOURS IN LENGTH, ONLY SO MUCH CAN BE TAKEN FROM THE GOSPELS. ONE THING THEY DID GET CORRECT WAS HAVING JESUS WITH NO LONG FLOWING SHOULDER LENGTH HAIR. THEY CORRECTLY HAD JESUS WITH A TYPCAL JEWISH LOOK THAT THE MAJORITY OF JEWS WOULD HAVE HAD AT THAT TIME.
IT IS OBVIOUSLY MADE FOR CHRISTIANS; I LIKED ESPECIALLY THE SCENE OF THE WOMAN BROUGHT BEFORE JESUS WHO WAS TAKEN IN ADULTERY; SHOWS THE LOVE AND MERCY OF GOD, WITH AS THE GOSPELS RECORD "GO AND SIN NO MORE" FROM JESUS. THEN ALSO THE RAISING OF LAZARUS WAS LARGE AND POWERFUL, REALLY WELL DONE IN THE RESPONSE OF PEOPLE TO THE EVENT AND THE "HALLELUIA CHORUS" BEING SUNG. TAKING US TO THE INTERMISSION.
THE LAST PASSOVER JESUS PARTOOK OF WITH HIS DISCIPLES WAS SHORT BUT TO THE POINT, SHOWING THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BROKEN BREAD AND FRUIT OF THE VINE, JESUS SAYING HE WILL NOT PARTAKE AGAIN UNTIL THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME TO EARTH.
THE TRIAL OF JESUS WAS AGAIN TO THE POINT, AND NONE OF THE HORRIFIC ROMAN SCOURGING PORTRAYED AS IN MEL GIBSON'S "THE PASSION."
DURING THE DARKNESS THAT FELL OVER THE CRUCIFIXION SCENE THEY ADDED RAIN AND LIGHTNING, I GUESS FOR MORE EFFECT INTO THE EVENT.
THE RESURRECTION WAS SHORT BUT EFFECTIVE, WITH CHRIST SAYING AT THE END AS HE WAS IN THE CLOUDS...... "I AM WITH YOU EVEN TO THE END OF THE WORLD" - OR "AGE" AS WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND IT; WITH HIS DISCIPLES EVEN TO THE TIME WHEN HE COMES AGAIN AT THE END OF THIS AGE.
NONE CHRISTIANS WOULD FIND IT SLOW, AND TO THEM, AS SOME NONE-CHRISTAIN CRITICS HAVE SAID, "BORING."
I FOUND IT [REMEMBERING TO IGNORE THE ERRORS HERE AND THERE] VERY INTENSE, CERTAINLY EPIC, AND MAX VON SYDOW 'S PORTRAYAL AS JESUS IN THE WORDS AND SCENES GIVEN IN THE MOVIE, VERY FINE, AND I THINK PROBABLY AS IT REALLY WAS WHEN JESUS UTTERED THOSE WORDS
NOW RECORDED IN THE GOSPELS. JESUS PRAYING IN THE GARDEN DURING PASSOVER NIGHT WAS IN REALITY MUCH MORE INTENSE FOR HE LITERALLY SWEATED BLOOD [THE MEDICAL WORLD HAS A FANCY NAME FOR IT].
SO FOR A SERIOUS 3 HOUR PLUS STORY ON WHAT YOU CAN TAKE FROM THE GOSPELS, FOR THAT LENGTH OF TIME, I PERSONALLY WAS MOVED, EVEN TO SOME TEARS AT TIMES.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the film. For other uses, see The Greatest Story Ever Told (disambiguation).
|The Greatest Story Ever Told|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||George Stevens|
|Produced by||George Stevens|
|Screenplay by||James Lee Barrett|
|Starring||Max von Sydow|
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
William C. Mellor
|Edited by||Harold F. Kress|
Argyle Nelson, Jr.
George Stevens Productions
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The Greatest Story Ever Told is a 1965 American epic film produced and directed by George Stevens. It is a retelling of the story of Jesus Christ, from the Nativity through theResurrection. This film is notable for its large ensemble cast and for being the last film appearance of Claude Rains.
- Max von Sydow as Jesus
- Dorothy McGuire as the Virgin Mary
- Charlton Heston as John the Baptist
- Claude Rains as Herod the Great
- Jose Ferrer as Herod Antipas
- Telly Savalas as Pontius Pilate
- Martin Landau as Caiaphas
- David McCallum as Judas Iscariot
- Donald Pleasence as "The Dark Hermit" (a personification of Satan)
- Michael Anderson, Jr. as James the Just
- Roddy McDowall as Matthew
- Joanna Dunham as Mary Magdalene
- Joseph Schildkraut as Nicodemus
- Ed Wynn as "Old Aram"
Smaller roles (some only a few seconds) were played by Michael Ansara, Ina Balin, Carroll Baker, Robert Blake, Pat Boone, Victor Buono, John Considine, Richard Conte,Jamie Farr, David Hedison, Van Heflin, Russell Johnson, Angela Lansbury, Mark Lenard, Robert Loggia, John Lupton, Sal Mineo, Nehemiah Persoff, Sidney Poitier, Gary Raymond, Marian Seldes, David Sheiner, Paul Stewart, John Wayne and Shelley Winters.
The Greatest Story Ever Told originated as a U.S. radio series in 1947, half-hour episodes inspired by the Gospels. The series was adapted into a 1949 novel by Fulton Oursler, a senior editor at Reader's Digest. Darryl F. Zanuck, the head of 20th Century Fox, acquired the film rights to the Oursler novel shortly after publication, but never brought it to pre-production.
In 1958, when George Stevens was producing and directing The Diary of Anne Frank at 20th Century Fox, he became aware that the studio owned the rights to the Oursler property. Stevens created a company, "The Greatest Story Productions", to film the novel.
It took two years to write the screenplay. Stevens collaborated with Ivan Moffet and then with James Lee Barrett. It was the only time Stevens received screenplay credit for a film he directed. Ray Bradbury and Reginald Rose were considered but neither participated. The poet Carl Sandburg was solicited though it is not certain if any of his contributions were included. Sandburg, however, did receive screen credit for "creative association."
Financial excesses began to grow during pre-production. Stevens commissioned French artist André Girard to prepare 352 oil paintings of Biblical scenes to use as storyboards. Stevens also traveled to the Vatican to see Pope John XXIII for advice.
In August 1961, 20th Century Fox withdrew from the project, noting that $2.3 million had been spent without any footage being shot. Stevens was given two years to find another studio or 20th Century Fox would reclaim its rights. Stevens moved the film to United Artists.
Meanwhile, MGM proceeded with their own 1961 Technicolor epic about the life of Christ, King of Kings starring Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus. Filmed in Spain, it was critically panned and flopped. King of Kings, when released, turned out to be nearly an hour shorter than The Greatest Story Ever Told.
For The Greatest Story Ever Told, Stevens cast Swedish actor Max von Sydow as Jesus. Von Sydow had never appeared in an English-language film and was best known for his performances in Ingmar Bergman's dramatic films. Stevens wanted an unknown actor free of secular and unseemly associations in the mind of the public.
The Greatest Story Ever Told featured an ensemble of well-known actors, many of them in brief, even cameo, appearances. Some critics would later complain that the large cast distracted from the solemnity, notably in the appearance of John Wayne as the Roman centurion who comments on the Crucifixion, in his well-known voice, by stating: "Truly this man was the son of God."
Stevens shot The Greatest Story Ever Told in the U.S. southwest, in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Pyramid Lake in Nevada represented the Sea of Galilee, Lake Moab in Utah was used to film the Sermon on the Mount, and California's Death Valley was the setting of Jesus' 40-day journey into the wilderness.
Stevens explained his decision to use the U.S. rather than in the Middle East or Europe in 1962. "I wanted to get an effect of grandeur as a background to Christ, and none of the Holy Land areas shape up with the excitement of the American southwest," he said. "I know that Colorado is not the Jordan, nor is Southern Utah Palestine. But our intention is to romanticize the area, and it can be done better here."
Forty-seven sets were constructed, on location and in Hollywood studios, to accommodate Stevens' vision.
To fill location scenes with extras, Stevens turned to local sources – R.O.T.C. cadets from an Arizona high school played Roman soldiers (after 550 Navajo Indians from a nearby reservation allegedly did not give a convincing performance; other sources claim they weren't on set long enough and left early to take part in a tribal election) and Arizona Department of Welfare provided disabled state aid recipients to play the afflicted who sought Jesus' healing.
Principal photography was scheduled to run three months but ran nine months or more due to numerous delays and setbacks (most of which were due to Stevens' insistence on shooting dozens of retakes in every scene). Joseph Schildkraut died before completing his performance as Nicodemus, requiring scenes to be rewritten around his absence. Cinematographer William C. Mellor had a fatal heart attack during production;Loyal Griggs, who won an Academy Award for his cinematography on Stevens’ 1953 Western classic Shane, was brought in to replace him. Joanna Dunham became pregnant, which required costume redesigns and carefully chosen camera angles.
Much of the production was shot during the winter of 1962-1963, when Arizona had heavy snow. Actor David Sheiner, who played James the Elder, quipped in an interview about the snowdrifts: "I thought we were shootingNanook of the North." Stevens was also under pressure to hurry the John the Baptist sequence, which was shot at the Glen Canyon area – it was scheduled to become Lake Powell with the completion of the Glen Canyon Dam, and the production held up the project.
Stevens brought in two veteran filmmakers. Jean Negulesco filmed sequences in the Jerusalem streets while David Lean shot the prologue featuring Herod the Great. Lean cast Claude Rains as Herod.
By the time shooting was completed in August 1963, Stevens had amassed six million feet of Ultra Panavision 70 film (about 1829 km or 1136 miles, roughly the radius of the Moon). The budget ran to an astounding $20 million – 2010 equivalent: approximately $142 million – plus additional editing and promotion charges), making it the most expensive film shot in the U.S.
The film was advertised on its first run as being shown in Cinerama. While it was shown on an ultra-curved screen, it was with one projector. True Cinerama required three projectors running simultaneously. A dozen other films were presented this way in the 1960s.