Top positive review
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The most widely viewed film of all time
on 28 July 2004
It is impossible to overestimate the important of this 1979 film, for it has made an impact in even the most primitive regions of the earth, places where men and women are only now hearing about Jesus for the first time. This definitive, rigorously scriptural movie version of the life of Jesus Christ has been seen by over five billion people around the globe, reaching 236 different nations in over 800 languages. It has helped win innumerable souls to Christ all over the world, and even now, under the aegis of Campus Crusade For Christ, local churches and individuals are coming together in an effort to send a free copy of the movie to every home in the United States. The movie was a dream over three decades in the making, with five years of pre-production work preceding the seven-month filming that took place in 1978 at a multitude of sites in Israel. Intense efforts, involving the collaboration of numerous scholars from the whole gamut of Christian churches, went into making Jesus as accurate as it could possibly be - from vintage pottery to historically accurate costuming to sufficient cinders residing behind burning torches, every effort was made to take the audience back to Jesus' time. It is a non-denominational Christian film; while some churches might quibble about an omission here or a suggestion there, this movie is the story of Jesus and not the story of any particular kind of Christian religion.
The movie is based solely on the Gospel of Luke, and the dialogue you hear is taken straight out of the Bible. Jesus says nothing in this film that He does not say in Luke's account of his life. Naturally, every facet of Jesus' life could not be covered here, but the movie does a superb job of showing us who Jesus was and how He lived, taught, suffered, and died for the sins of all humanity. Brian Deacon does a superb job playing Jesus, and Niko Nitai truly shines in his portrayal of Simon Peter. At times, the film does seem to jump from one scene to another rather quickly, but this goes back to the authenticity upon which the film was founded. In a sense, Jesus' ministry was spent walking toward Jerusalem and His death on the cross, so we see Jesus and his disciples walking almost continuously; furthermore, Jesus' teachings, as recorded in Luke's Gospel, are a collection of parables and religious instruction originating from many different events in the life of the Savior. Jesus took His message to the people instead of letting the people come to Him.
The suffering of Jesus is handled quite well here, clearly portraying the horrific nature of death by crucifixion without making it disturbing enough to scare young children. You do see the scourging of Jesus and the driving of the nails into his wrists and feet, but the director seemed to set just the right tone for the scenes. It all makes for a powerful film that has won innumerable souls across the world; to tell someone of Jesus is one thing, but to show that person in such a captivating format as film exactly who Jesus was and how He suffered and died for the sins of humanity makes for a powerful missionary tool. Even non-Christians will be impressed by the commitment, scrupulous attention to detail, and cinematic mastery that went into the making of this film.