Greatest Story

Every year before Easter, my sister Bec watches The Ten Commandments. The story of the Israelites being led out of the desert by Moses — though not directly related to the death and resurrection of Jesus — is an Easter tradition. Personally, I think it’s seeing the red and orange crinkly paper mimicking the burning bush that does it for her. Every year she texts me at the end of the movie and says, “Moses once again led the Jews out of the desert and to the Promised Land.” As usual, Moses, himself, didn’t make it. I checked with Bec.

I love a good tradition, but not enough to spend three or more hours watching an overacted movie. I can say this conclusively, because yesterday afternoon, it came to my attention that Amazon was offering The Greatest Story Ever Told to its prime members at no cost. The Greatest Story Ever Told and free shipping. What more could a Christian want?

I started the movie. It took nearly 10 minutes for the film to actually begin because of all of the falderol at the beginning. Cue epic music and the names of The Best Of Hollywood who starred in the movie. And then the film began with the three magi meeting with King Herod to see if he knew the location of the new King of the Jews. Bad call on their part, because Herod wasn’t ready to give up his throne. “When you find the kid, let me know where he is so that I can kil…oops, I mean worship him myself.”

It was at this point that Bill, who was sitting at the kitchen table working on our taxes, said, “Joseph escapes with Mary and Jesus because an angel comes to him in a dream and tells him to go to Egypt.”

Seriously? He thinks I didn’t know this? Spoiler alert?

“Bill,” I said. “After 13 years of Catholic school and a lifetime of being a Catholic Christian, I think I know how the story goes. I also know how it ends.”

At any rate, I moved into the bedroom to continue watching the movie, which I had by then learned went on for three hours. Why are these Bible movies so dang long? I cued up The Greatest Story Ever Told, and watched it until after Jesus began his mission. I sat with him as he fasted for 40 days and ignored the devil, I watched him recruit Peter, John, James, and Judas Iscariot. And then I simply couldn’t watch it any longer.

Why? The filmmaker elected to use an unknown actor to portray Jesus. I think that was probably a pretty good decision. Watching, say, Clint Eastwood portray Jesus Christ would be so disconcerting. I would be waiting for him to tell Pontius Pilate, “Do you feel lucky today? Well, do you, Punk?”

But the actor he selected — a French actor named Max von Sydow — was horrible. I can forgive him for having blue eyes even though Jesus undoubtedly had brown eyes. It’s a movie, after all. It isn’t really Jesus; it’s an actor. Or at least I thinks so. I’ll ask Bill.

Anyway, what I couldn’t get past was his haircut…..

No. Just no. Jesus had shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. It in no way resembled this Dutchboy haircut with the side part.

I might have been able to withstand the bad haircut. But I simply couldn’t handle his speaking voice. In my mind, Jesus’ voice is warm and welcoming. The Greatest Story Ever Told‘s Jesus sounded like a snobby Brit who is unhappy that they let the town’s plumber into the Country Club.

I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I switched over to Jesus of Nazareth. Though there were a lot of blue eyes…

Mary, as portrayed by the stunning young Olivia Hussey
Jesus as portrayed by then-unknown actor Robert Powell

…..Jesus didn’t talk like a rich investment banker and Mary was stunningly beautiful.

Best of all, by this time Bill had gone back out to the garage so he wasn’t narrating the story.

2 thoughts on “Greatest Story

  1. It really is easier sometimes to just keep Jesus in your heart and soul. I always struggle a little with the movies too.

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