Sunday, March 31, 2002
Whether they're believers or not, Hollywood filmmakers always have known the Bible is packed with stories that make for entertaining (and often moving) films.
Some movies that have addressed the life of Jesus and the rise of Christianity are available on DVD in sparkling, pristine prints. And, with Easter being today, there couldn't be a more appropriate time to watch them.
l "Ben-Hur" (Warner, 1959, $24.98) ï¿½ Based on a book subtitled "A Tale of the Christ" by Lew Wallace, the film is most famous for its spectacular chariot race. But the meat of the story is Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) and his search for the truth of Christianity. In one memorable sequence, Ben-Hur witnesses the crucifixion and realizes that "this was indeed the son of God." Miklos' Rozas' score is among the most stirring in film history. Winner of 11 Oscars.
l "The Robe" ï¿½ (20th Century Fox, 1953, $19.98) ï¿½ This movie gained its fame by being the first film released in CinemaScope. Based on a best-selling novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, it also takes place during the life of Christ. The title refers to the robe worn by Christ before he was nailed to the cross. Richard Burton is the Roman eventually persuaded by his slave, Victor Mature, to follow Jesus and his teachings. Burton's conversion eventually costs him his life.
l "Demetrius and the Gladiators" (20th Century Fox, 1954, $19.98) ï¿½ This picks up where "The Robe" left off with Demetrius (Victor Mature) in possession of the robe. He seeks out Peter (Michael Rennie) and gives it to him for safekeeping. Meanwhile, Demetrius' faith is tested by the allure of Susan Hayward.
l "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (MGM, 1965, $19.98) ï¿½ This film features Max Von Sydow as Jesus, with the most memorable sequence being the Resurrection. This film has been needlessly ridiculed for John Wayne's brief appearance as a Roman soldier. His appearance and the many cameos of other movie stars do take away from some powerful sequences.
l "Jesus of Nazareth" (Artisan, 1977, $29.98) ï¿½ This spectacular miniseries follows the life of Jesus from his youth to his last days. Robert Powell star as Christ. The movie runs 382 minutes.
l "The Ten Commandments" ï¿½ (Paramount, 1954, $29.98) ï¿½ Here's a film that should appeal to people of all faiths. Charlton Heston's portrayal of Moses is one of the most famous in film history. Yul Brynner is the pharaoh who sends his army after Moses and his people. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.