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The Greatest Story Ever Told [DVD] [1965]

Max von Sydow , Dorothy McGuire , David Lean , George Stevens    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
Price: £4.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

The Greatest Story Ever Told [DVD] [1965] + The Ten Commandments [DVD] [1956] + The Bible [DVD] [1966]
Price For All Three: £15.31

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Product details

  • Actors: Max von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Charlton Heston, Michael Anderson Jr., Carroll Baker
  • Directors: David Lean, George Stevens, Jean Negulesco
  • Writers: George Stevens, Carl Sandburg, Fulton Oursler, Henry Denker, James Lee Barrett
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Norwegian
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 31 Mar 2003
  • Run Time: 191 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000089AUC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,520 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The life of Christ got an excessively long treatment (260 minutes, later trimmed to 195) in The Greatest Story Ever Told, the 1965 film directed by George Stevens. Max von Sydow does beautiful work as Jesus--his spontaneous mourning at discovering his friend Lazarus has died is not like anything in other New Testament epics--and Stevens renders the familiar tale with a handsome authenticity. But the project is nearly undone by an unwise gimmick in which seemingly half of Hollywood's living stars at the time make brief (often very brief) cameo appearances, some of which are ridiculous (who can forget the sight of John Wayne as a Roman Centurion solemnly intoning, "Truly he was the son of Gaaad"?). But there is a lot to like in the film, and Von Sydow's sensitive nobility sticks in the memory. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

George Stevens' epic retelling of the Bible substitutes Utah for the Middle East and features a host of big names in cameo roles. Concentrating on the birth, life, execution and resurrection of Christ (Max von Sydow), Stevens was helped by fellow directors David Lean and Jean Negulesco in the filming of certain sequences.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME VINE VOICE
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous film with underdeveloped characters. 27 Dec 2010
"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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow 28 Oct 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Jesus is amazing. This brilliant film sticks true to the Biblical accounts and helps us to glimpse (and imagine) afresh His glory. Why bother with fictions when you can see what is quite simply the "Greatest Story Ever Told" and true to the core?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film 31 May 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It was very moving to see the little girl's trust in Jesus and her desire to tell others what Jesus can do for them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Epic. 20 May 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
What a film! You just cannot help but be moved when watching this film.
I watch it now and then and enjoy it every time
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 27 Jan 2013
Still stands the test of time. Ignoring 'cameo' parts, much of text is direct from Scripture. Pace and tone is reverential.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie, worth a purchase 1 July 2012
By rube
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
thanks a great film before travelling to the Holy Land it made the holiday come alive revisiting the story of christ.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving, even if movement slow 20 April 2011
By Bedinog
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars OK as expected.
OK as expected.
Published 12 days ago by Smithy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Everything was well done
Published 13 days ago by Mr. Derek Behan
Big budget Hollywood Bible blockbusters are a category that can put shame to the campiest excursions found in low budget horror and sci fi pics. Read more
Published 15 days ago by THE BLUEMAHLER
5.0 out of 5 stars the importance of the past
this was an easter gift for my mum. It was a beautiful reminder of the past. I know they loved it. Thank you amazon.
Published 1 month ago by GG
4.0 out of 5 stars The greatest Story ever told
I had seen a film similar and so was probably a bit disappointed at some of the actors but it didn't take away from the real story
Published 2 months ago by rita sharp
3.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Story Every Told | Worthy
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... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Hadders
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Classic movie fore - telling the wonders and miracles of Christ's ministry from the age of 30 to his crucifixion and ascension to heaven with the father in Heaven. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Peter White MA 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars the holy story
very good movie with max von sydow the life of christ from birth to death ,well made and very authentic
Published 5 months ago by markus
1.0 out of 5 stars will not play on UK players
this DVD will not play on UK players, so the dvd (Blu-ray) of the greatest story ever told is no good to me.
Published 6 months ago by bob
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended
This film is really great and its was really well made and also well directed.
I enjoyed watching this film a lot the acting was really good by everyone. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Richard Taylor
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