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Jesus of Nazareth: The Complete Miniseries is a 2-part 6-hour epic drama that tells the complete story of Jesus Christ from before His birth all the way to His death and eventual resurrection. This incredible television miniseries, masterfully directed by Franco Zeffirelli attempts to document the entire life of Jesus Christ and put His whole story down from the calling of Mary to have a child that would be the Messiah all the way to Jesus crucifixion on the cross and rise three days later from the grave. This series features a massive and varied cast studded with both American and European stars, such as Anne Bancroft, Laurence Olivier, Ernest Borgnine, and Christopher Plummer.
In this 1977 made-for-television series, Zeffirelli attempts to combine the four gospels in order to tell a linear account of the narrative of Jesus’ life. Jesus of Nazareth: The Complete Miniseries focuses on Mary and Joseph and their difficulty in bearing Jesus with the census, and their divine escape from Herod’s hands. It follows Jesus’ life as He grows up and begins His ministry and documents his eventual rise to popularity and the controversy that eventually led to His death. This film would end as any other historical drama, documenting the end of a life of a popular historical figure. However, Jesus’ story ends different from every other man’s. Three days after His death, Jesus rose from the grave to the shock of the entire world. He gave His disciples a very clear calling and told them to spread His message to the whole world.
When this series originally released, it was praised for its ambitious subject matter and its incredible technical production. Although this series was released in 1977, it features a large cast and had a very substantial budget compared to other miniseries of the time. It was originally broadcast in Italy and was divided up into five individual episodes. The number of viewers during its initial broadcast was estimated to be 20+ Million. Jesus of Nazareth: The Complete Miniseries was an incredible commercial success and was seen by countless millions of viewers during its run, and in the over 40 years since then.
It received many awards and nominations after its release, including being nominated for an Emmy award for being an Outstanding Special Drama. James Farentino, who played St. Peter in the series, was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Special. It was also nominated for six British Academy Television Awards. The Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists awarded the series multiple awards, including Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design.
Similar to how The History Channel’s The Bible series spawned a sequel series A.D. The Bible Continues, a sort of sequel was released to follow up Jesus of Nazareth – A.D. This series continued the story and showed what became of the disciples following Jesus’ death and resurrection. While this series was based on the four gospels, A.D. focused on the next book of the New Testament, Acts (or the Acts of the Apostles).
This miniseries follows the life of Jesus, starting with His birth and continue all the way to His resurrection. As the four gospel accounts record, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary. She was told by an angel that she was to have a child and that He would be the Messiah, the savior of the whole world. While the Messiah was often thought to be a great warrior that would appear to destroy the Romans and bring peace back to Israel, Jesus was born in very humble circumstances, just a small baby in a lowly manger.
As He grew up, it became quickly apparent that Jesus wasn’t going to be an ordinary child. Unlike the other children, Jesus expressed a strong spiritual side from a very early age. It was obvious that He had a very deep connection with God from a very young age. As he grew older it became more and more apparent that He was indeed the Messiah. When He was 30 years old, He began His ministry and called twelve men to follow Him. These men included Peter, James, John, and even Judas Iscariot, the one who would later betray Him.
Together these men travelled all over, led by Jesus. He would stop in various locations to both preach and heal those around Him. He was able to work miracles, including turn water into wine, heal the sick and blind, and make food supernaturally never run out. Jesus began to teach His followers about how He was the way to find salvation. Everyone is subject so sin, He explained, and the only way to find forgiveness and peace with God was to accept Jesus and make Him the Lord of their life.
Unfortunately, because Jesus’ words were so contentious and controversial, he ended up getting in serious trouble with both the Pharisees and Romans. Only three years into His ministry, He was arrested and brought before Herod and Pilate. Pilate eventually asked the crowd that had been following Him what they should do with Jesus. It was quickly decided by the group that Jesus was not fit to live because of his supposedly blasphemous speech. Jesus claimed that He was the Messiah and the King of the Jews, which would have been blasphemous except for the fact that it was completely true.
And so the next day, Jesus was crucified, killed for His teaching that He was the way to God and eternal life. This would have been an abrupt and terrible end to an incredible life, if it weren’t for what happened next – three days later, Jesus did a miraculous thing and rose from the dead. Not even death could hold Jesus down and He was able to rise from the dead, spending the next 40 days appearing to His disciples. He left them instructions that would later become known as The Great Commission. He told them to go into all of the world and tell others the good news of a way to have eternal life.
Jesus of Nazareth: The Complete Miniseries is the optimal way to show someone the story of Jesus’ entire life. This classic biblical dramatization from 1977 holds up well as a powerful and epic narrative of the life and times of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Watch the entire series on this complete DVD collection time and time again.
Franco Zeffirelli creates a portrait in his well-known interpretation of the life of Jesus. Beginning before the Nativity and ranging through the Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus of Nazareth brings to life all the splendor.