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  • Greatest Story Ever Told [Blu-ray] [1965] [US Import]
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Greatest Story Ever Told [Blu-ray] [1965] [US Import]

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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004RUF9DC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,555 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 6 Dec. 2003
Format: VHS Tape
"The Greatest Story Ever Told" is certainly the most reverential treatment of the life of Jesus. The 1965 movie was based on the book by Fulton Oursler, which integrated the four Gospels into a single narrative. To appreciate this task just look at the different versions of what Jesus said on the cross according to each Gospel. Reconciling the various versions is not an easy task and while viewers may question some of the specific choices, the only really significant alteration is the death of Judas by throwing himself into the sacrificial pit of the Great Temple, a symbolism that is unnecessarily heavy handed.
The choice of Max Von Sydow to play Jesus is an interesting selection to say the least. His slight Swedish accent and closely cropped beard are certainly in keeping with the reverential tone of the film, but I can not help wondering if this was something of a reaction to the more populist Jesus portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter in "King of Kings." After all, this was 1965 and the Beatles invasion was underway making male hair length a hot issue. This is a Jesus who is too solemn and too sedate for the most part. There is a nice moment where one of the new disciples comments that he likes Jesus' name. The smile and "Thank you" that follow are one of the few glimpses of the charisma of the man from Galilee.
The strength of the film is in the gorgeous cinematography by William C. Mellor (who died on the set of a heart attack) and Loyal Griggs, and scene composition under the direction of George Stevens. The opening narration goes from the opening verses of John shot over ancient Christian murals to a shot of the manager, ending with a shot of the hand of the baby Jesus as the narrator announces in a most simple manner, "The Greatest Story Ever Told.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By NoWireHangers on 27 Dec. 2010
Format: DVD
"The Greatest Story Ever Told" is another biblical epic about the life of Jesus. It follows his story from his birth to his crucifiction and resurrection. The film is very beautifully staged and filmed. The pace is slow with much focus on Jesus's philosphy. Max von Sydow plays a larger-than-life Jesus, who speaks in King James Bible quotes. He's never developed into a deeper, multidemensional character, which makes it somewhat difficult for the viewer, or at least for me, to really get involved in the story. A Christian viewer may find it easier to relate to the character and story; the film definitely takes Jesus's teachings and the gospels very seriously. The acting is good. Some have criticised the film for the many celebrity cameos. They didn't bother me, and I must admit I didn't even notice Angela Lansbury or Shelley Winters in the film so their cameos must have been very small. Von Sydow is good in the lead but because his character is underdeveloped there are others that are more interesting. I especially enjoyed Charlton Heston (as John the Baptist), David McCallum (as Judas) and Telly Savalas (as Pontius Pilate (this was apparently the film he first shaved his head for)).

To sum up, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is a gorgeous, technically very well made film that's weaker on characterization and narrative, but still definitely worth watching for fans of biblical and/or epic films.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hadders on 26 April 2014
Format: DVD
I have always been attracted to the epic as a genre - the excessive length of the films, the casts of thousands, the spectacle of the scenes - but overall, the admiration that such films were made apparently without compromise. George Stevens' film of the life and death of Jesus Christ is no exception.

The common criticisms of the film remain legitimate - it is too long (even for me), the cameos are often needless and the direction is dry. Perhaps the film's weakest feature is its script, which is surprising given that the source material is allegedly the greatest story ever told. As a result, the film is awash with stagy, melodramatic and unconvincing dialogue - John Wayne's lines on Golgotha are oft cited - but he is by no means the exception. Moments of sincerity become toe-curling, just as light moments register as awkward and unconvincing.

The film takes itself *very* seriously, stifling any opportunities to explore or infer both character and story. This is its weakness, but it is also a strength. In an age of insincerity and irony, it is almost refreshing to find a work which is genuinely reverential in its rendering; Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' may be slick, but it is a gratuitous bloodbath wherein one is left thinking of its depictions of violence rather than the plight of the protagonist. As Jesus, Max von Sydow's other worldliness seems sensitive and befitting; he offers nuance in a film which is weighed down by literal and stiff interpretations. Stevens should also be praised for capturing the desert landscape with genuine grace and beauty.

'The Greatest Story Ever Told' is a film that is technically accomplished, but artistically flawed; it is a great story which is poorly told; it is a film characterized by good intent but lacking in subtlety or imagination.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bedinog on 20 April 2011
Format: DVD
This review is of the Region 2 standard DVD- w/screen 191min version (part of the 8DVD box 'The Greatest Stories Ever Told')

A much maligned, unfairly so in my view, truly epic attempt to tell some of the story of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of the Christian faith. So much has been written that it is scarcely possible to find anything new to say. Much criticism has been made of the many cameo roles here, most of which receive very little character development. How that is possible within a three hour film which covers so much ground is asking rather a lot, and it is as well to note the performances which do stand out, as well as the little vignettes easily overlooked in the general epic sweep.
Top of the list must come Max von Sydow's towering Jesus looking for all the world as if he's carrying the weight of human pain and tragedy on his shoulders, with only the odd moment of humour (as in the early scenes with James the Younger and Matthew). The Swedish-accented English works well as an 'other-worldly'contrast to the English and American-English of the other players.
Charlton Heston's authoritative John the Baptist is at home with the intimate (as he almost whispers to Jesus at the Jordan River 'I don't know you.yet I know you') as with the declaiming of Hebrew prophecy, very few actors matching him in his many performances in preaching or simply reading the Bible. Look at how director George Stevens uses eyes-take Claude Rains' flashing malevolent King Herod,and Rudolfo Acosta's barely glimpsed horror at the order to massacre Bethlehem's children.
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