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No "Jesus of Nazareth" in US this Easter


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#21 of 95 OFFLINE   David Weicker

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Posted January 21 2013 - 05:08 PM

It wouldn't be the first time Criterion ventured into television. They did do a release of Tanner '88 David

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Posted January 21 2013 - 05:20 PM

I think Jesus of Nazareth is a unique production. Yes, it aired in the US. But it is also an artistic achievement.

#23 of 95 OFFLINE   Brian McP

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Posted January 21 2013 - 05:25 PM

It certainly is one of the best biblical movies ever made, never ponderous or boring -- and undoubtedly one of the great tv mini-series of the 1970s. And that cast -- never again....and co-written by the author of "A Clockwork Orange". I saw it as a 4 hour theatrical feature in April 1978 -- it played throughout Australia in selected multiplexes (as they were back then) and even at drive-ins. It played in theatres for at least 4-5 months and the mini-series itself came to television down here in 1980. For any hardcore fans out there, one can pick up the one sheet posters and daybills used for JON's theatrical run on eBay and various poster sites, I have one myself -- shall always remember seeing it in a multiplex and in the theatre in the complex right next to it was playing "A Piece of the Action" and "Star Wars", still thundering away in it's 7th month, filmed on the same locations used by Jesus and co a year earlier. This would look great on bluray but even seeing it in a theatre all those years ago (and on video and dvd occasionally since), I was always underwhelmed by the sound having been spoilt by Ben Hur/Ten Commandment-like stereo assaults during most biblical epics. I heard the series did get some kind of 5.1 makeover -- anyone have any further details?

#24 of 95 OFFLINE   philip*eric

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Posted January 21 2013 - 06:17 PM

Believe me, I am a big fan of this film/miniseries -- I had always hoped to see it get more attention - a restoration , a reissue , a documentary on the making of... but none has happened-- as time has gone by, it has not been given much attention anywhere. Only in Italy , home of the director ,did it get a 4 disc sp edition - probably the most lavish of any release.. but the extras have no subtitles . So for English speaking fans , we have had to make due with Artisan's less than perfect issue as the best available. As this was released in theaters, what was the aspect ratio? And the versions in theaters -- are they editted versions or the standard 6 hr, 22min version ? and what about the supposed near 8 hour version Ive heard mentioned - does it exist??? Could it be there are just so many variables with this now 36 year old + production that a comprehensive restoration is not possible??? From what Ive read about it, it does seem to be a tangled web that perhaps no company including Criterion is willing to take on? One point -- the original KING OF KINGS (1927) is a classic of silent films - a beautiful film in many ways -- the Criterion release allowed many of us to see the original uncut version by Demille not seen since its original roadshow showings - your dismissal of this film, Eric, is undeserved - this film had a profound effect on millions of people worldwide for many years - you cant really compare a 1977 6 hour plus miniseries to a silent 1927 2hr 30 min theatrical film - IMO

#25 of 95 OFFLINE   Sky Captain

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Posted January 22 2013 - 05:31 AM

It wouldn't be the first time Criterion ventured into television. They did do a release of Tanner '88 David

And it was the only time that they'll do it, since obviously there are no other TV shows that they find worthy enough like Tanner '88 to put on DVD.

#26 of 95 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted January 22 2013 - 07:54 AM

I rate Jesus Of Nazareth among the best, but I would just say in fairness that overall as a work of cinema, I still give the edge to "Passion Of The Christ" for its greater realism regarding the Crucifixion and also the more historically accurate depiction of Pilate (Steiger's performance and the way the part was written was all off IMO). "The Greatest Story Ever Told" I think also works from a cinematic standpoint. Not so the 1961 "King Of KIngs" with its overly fictional narrative (but glorious Miklos Rozsa score) and the less said about Scorcese or the dreadful 1999 TV-movie the better. To me the telling of the story is important enough to sustain several good versions overall and Jesus Of Nazareth along with the two best cinematic versions I think in the end collectively do justice to the meaning of the story in key ways. The lesser films are the ones that fail to deliver on those points.

Certainly the Crucifixion in Passion of the Christ was the most intense; but at the time, the depiction in Jesus of Nazareth was the most realistic to date. I remember reading that Robert Powell insisted on carrying a real weight cross beam instead of the usual balsa wood replica. The nailing, and hoisting up by ropes as Powell screamed in agony added a dimension of pain and suffering that was always missing in previous versions. The subjective camera angles as he carried the cross through the crowd added a sense of disorientation that had always been lacking. And to have Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus watching over the Crucifixion while reciting Isaiah 53 showed that he saw the meaning of the event while communicating it to the viewer. Previous cinematic depictions of the Crucifixion shied away from realism and sought to portray the event in a formal, overly tasteful manner while minimizing Christ's suffering. I agree with your assessment of the earlier "Life of Christ" films. The Greatest Story Ever Told started out magnificently, and works very well for me up through the Baptism scene. The 1961 King of Kings is too much of Pilate and Herod Antipas strutting about chewing scenery for my taste. Another film I liked was The Gospel of John. It suffered from a low budget and some poor supporting actors and extras; but Henry Ian Cusick was great as Christ, as was Christopher Plummer as the narrator.

And it was the only time that they'll do it, since obviously there are no other TV shows that they find worthy enough like Tanner '88 to put on DVD.

I think Criterion also released a disc of early live TV classics, like Rod Serling's Patterns, Requiem For a Heavyweight, etc. I really cannot see Criterion doing Jesus of Nazareth myself. Besides, it needs to be available to larger market than it would be as a $40 special edition.

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Posted January 22 2013 - 10:13 AM

I really love the Jesus of Nazareth making of book that Franco wrote. I purchased a copy on Amazon last year.

#28 of 95 OFFLINE   Jack P

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Posted January 22 2013 - 10:47 AM

And it was the only time that they'll do it, since obviously there are no other TV shows that they find worthy enough like Tanner '88 to put on DVD.

That they considered something highly forgettable that was seen by a niche crowd of the highest order, perhaps says something more about their own standards than whether or not something is worthy of such treatment. Some of their movie choices (Armageddon, The Rock) make it clear that their own standards of what is quality can leave much to be desired.

#29 of 95 OFFLINE   Jack P

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Posted January 22 2013 - 10:52 AM

And to have Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus watching over the Crucifixion while reciting Isaiah 53 showed that he saw the meaning of the event while communicating it to the viewer. Previous cinematic depictions of the Crucifixion shied away from realism and sought to portray the event in a formal, overly tasteful manner while minimizing Christ's suffering.

That was a great touch, as was having the centurion at the cross (Borgnine) be the same one whose servant had been healed. The one Scriptural sequence that did not appear that IMO should have was when Pilate sends Jesus back to Herod Antipas. I would have wanted to have seen a scene between Powell and Plummer and without it makes the whole storyline regarding the character of Antipas come to an abrupt halt. Antipas incidentally is the one thing I felt Passion Of The Christ got horribly wrong even as they got Pilate brilliantly right. The foppish effete Antipas of Passion is much too young whereas Plummer's interpretation was spot-on. We do know that Zefirrelli filmed a temptation in the desert scene but cut it from the final version because he had trouble getting it to work within the naturalistic tone of the rest of the film. Too bad since that would have been interesting to see.

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Posted January 22 2013 - 01:07 PM

I also have a still frame from John the Baptist's head on the silver platter...it is gory!

#31 of 95 OFFLINE   Brian McP

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Posted January 22 2013 - 04:11 PM

John played beautifully by Michael York -- also seeing this theatrically, pretty sure it was the 4 hour cut, not the entire mini-series. It did have an intermission (although when this played at drive-ins it did have a supporting feature!) -- it was G rated theatrically in 1978 but in recent years has been released on dvd and re-rated M (mature audiences). It wasn't widescreen, could have been played open matte ratio -- I don't remember it being 4:3 ratio in the theatre. Also being an ITC production (helmed by Sir Lew Grade, who certainly knew how to put an all star cast together), I think whoever owns the rights to their tv properties these days (Fremantle Media?) would do their own Criterion-callibre special edition, and flabbergasted as they haven't done so already. Most of the ITC movies that have come out on bluray ("The Boys From Brazil", "Capricorn One", "Escape from Athena" etc) have come out in beautiful transfers, albeit with very few extras.

#32 of 95 OFFLINE   Sky Captain

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Posted January 23 2013 - 09:04 AM

That they considered something highly forgettable that was seen by a niche crowd of the highest order, perhaps says something more about their own standards than whether or not something is worthy of such treatment. Some of their movie choices (Armageddon, The Rock) make it clear that their own standards of what is quality can leave much to be desired.

Those choices were because they felt that the movies in question contained something somewhat beyond the ordinary; in the case of Armageddon the planet being threatened by a large asteroid (which was carried off a bit better than in similar movies like Meteor) and in the case of The Rock, a story about heroism and sacrifice carried out by great actors (you'd have to talk to somebody at Criterion about these choices, and also watch the supplementary materiel on the DVD's in question to figure out what makes these films-the only blockbuster action films chosen by the company so far, mind you-so good that Criterion would chose them.) All of this, however, is moot; aside from a few old televised versions of plays, Criterion isn't going to put other shows on DVD by themselves (and believe me, I tried to suggest to Criterion that they do put some old early-to-mid '60's TV shows on DVD [East Side/West Side, The Eleventh Hour, Breaking Point, Slattery's People-the letter went unanswered.]) The company's only going to do what it wants to do, and that's it. Have you tried Shout Factory?

#33 of 95 OFFLINE   Sky Captain

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Posted January 23 2013 - 09:04 AM

That they considered something highly forgettable that was seen by a niche crowd of the highest order, perhaps says something more about their own standards than whether or not something is worthy of such treatment. Some of their movie choices (Armageddon, The Rock) make it clear that their own standards of what is quality can leave much to be desired.

Those choices were because they felt that the movies in question contained something somewhat beyond the ordinary; in the case of Armageddon the planet being threatened by a large asteroid (which was carried off a bit better than in similar movies like Meteor) and in the case of The Rock, a story about heroism and sacrifice carried out by great actors (you'd have to talk to somebody at Criterion about these choices, and also watch the supplementary materiel on the DVD's in question to figure out what makes these films-the only blockbuster action films chosen by the company so far, mind you-so good that Criterion would chose them.) All of this, however, is moot; aside from a few old televised versions of plays, Criterion isn't going to put other shows on DVD by themselves (and believe me, I tried to suggest to Criterion that they do put some old early-to-mid '60's TV shows on DVD [East Side/West Side, The Eleventh Hour, Breaking Point, Slattery's People-the letter went unanswered.]) The company's only going to do what it wants to do, and that's it. Have you tried Shout Factory?

#34 of 95 OFFLINE   Sky Captain

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Posted January 23 2013 - 09:13 AM

That they considered something highly forgettable that was seen by a niche crowd of the highest order, perhaps says something more about their own standards than whether or not something is worthy of such treatment. Some of their movie choices (Armageddon, The Rock) make it clear that their own standards of what is quality can leave much to be desired.

Those choices were because they felt that the movies in question contained something somewhat beyond the ordinary; in the case of Armageddon the planet being threatened by a large asteroid (which was carried off a bit better than in similar movies like Meteor) and in the case of The Rock, a story about heroism and sacrifice carried out by great actors (you'd have to talk to somebody at Criterion about these choices, and also watch the supplementary materiel on the DVD's in question to figure out what makes these films-the only blockbuster action films chosen by the company so far, mind you-so good that Criterion would chose them.) All of this, however, is moot; aside from a few old televised versions of plays, Criterion isn't going to put other shows on DVD by themselves (and believe me, I tried to suggest to Criterion that they do put some old early-to-mid '60's TV shows on DVD [East Side/West Side, The Eleventh Hour, Breaking Point, Slattery's People-the letter went unanswered.]) The company's only going to do what it wants to do, and that's it. Have you tried Shout Factory?

Also being an ITC production (helmed by Sir Lew Grade, who certainly knew how to put an all star cast together), I think whoever owns the rights to their tv properties these days (Fremantle Media?) would do their own Criterion-callibre special edition, and flabbergasted as they haven't done so already. Most of the ITC movies that have come out on bluray ("The Boys From Brazil", "Capricorn One", "Escape from Athena" etc) have come out in beautiful transfers, albeit with very few extras.

Fremantle doesn't own any rights to ITC properties; most of those are owned by ITV Global Limited (the successor-in-interest to ITC/ATV and Carlton Media, which acquired the assets of ITC/ATV/Carlton a while ago.

#35 of 95 OFFLINE   KMR

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Posted January 23 2013 - 10:25 AM

and what about the supposed near 8 hour version Ive heard mentioned - does it exist???

Could this actually be the 6hr+ version, which was broadcast in time slots totalling 8 hours with commercials included? The original 1977 NBC broadcast totalled 6 hours including commercials; 3 hours on Palm Sunday, 3 hours on Easter Sunday. Later broadcasts were usually 8 hours (4 nights with 2 hours each), incorporating more material than what was in the initial broadcast. On some blogs and message boards on the web, you'll see references to versions up to 10 hours long, including scenes that people "remember" which were never even filmed (at least they weren't according to Zeffirelli)...

#36 of 95 OFFLINE   Jack P

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Posted January 23 2013 - 11:30 AM

THe DVD of course also eliminates the individual part credits and end credits and only gives us a single main title and end credits. I can remember how on the old CBS/FOX VHS release of the shorter version, when they would get to the points where commercials would have been placed if you paused the black screen you could always see the faint outline of the "Jesus Of Nazareth" bumper. I also remember on the second NBC airing I think it was how the episodes would have a staff announcer go, "That was Act I of Jesus of Nazareth" etc. leading into every commercial segment.

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Posted January 23 2013 - 12:42 PM

I went to Google News Archives and looked at newspaper articles from the 1979 broadcast. This is the first of many extended version broadcasts. The articles go into detail about which scenes were added back into the film. You can tell when watching, which scenes were added back in because they fade in from black, last a few minutes and then fade back to black in much too short of time for an entire act before commercial break (in other words, not enough time between commercial breaks.) The opening credits should be like this: Part One: As seen on dvd, a pan of the countryside with the stars superimposed over the footage. Part Two: Same Part Three: Jesus and the multitudes walking Part Four: Freeze-frame of the scene with the council..following the credits, the scene continues End Credits (Still Frame Of): Part One: John the Baptist (from final scene of that episode) Part Two: Judas and Jesus (from final scene of that episode) Part Three: Nicodemus and Jesus (from final scene of that episode) Part Four: The empty tomb

#38 of 95 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 25 2013 - 05:16 AM

Hard to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is not yet on Blu-ray and I am worried that when it finally is, it will be an edited version. This is my absolute favorite (and what I feel to be definitive) film about Christ.   Last time I saw it, I noticed a glaring flub.... After a dead Christ is taken down from the cross, it is pouring rain and we see him lying on the ground.  As rain hits his eyelids you can see his eyes react to the drops.

 

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#39 of 95 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted January 25 2013 - 11:10 AM

Ron, I've always wondered why they left the shot of Powell's eyelid twitching in that scene. I guess they didn't see it? Hard to believe...

#40 of 95 OFFLINE   HenryDuBrow

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Posted January 26 2013 - 01:43 AM

Couldn't believe it when Criterion released The Rock and Armageddon to be honest, personally think both those action movies were awful whereas I rate Jesus of Nazareth a masterpiece, and alone the fact that it did play theatrically at one point does indeed qualify it as a potential release I should say. Haven't looked at their whole catalog, but if they've released other religious productions why not, I doubt they're brave enough to do it in this case though plus it's generally regarded a mini-series/TV production.




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