Series: Jesus of Nazareth

Zerah: Now it begins. It all begins.

Jesus of Nazareth is an Anglo-Italian mini-series made in 1977 about the life of Jesus. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli and produced by Sir Lew Grade, it stars Robert Powell in the title role and has an exceptionally strong supporting cast making up the rest of First Century Judea. Zeffirelli made the project after he was asked directly by Pope Paul VI to make a film about the life of Jesus from His birth to the Crucifixion and ending in the Resurrection. In order to make a more Scripturally accurate film, various religious authorities were consulted including the Vatican and the Koronic School in Meknes, Morocco.

Jesus of Nazareth has been referred to as "the best mini-series of all time" and is shown on televisions at least once every year.


  • Adipose Rex: Herod the Great, played by Peter Ustinov.
  • Affably Evil: King Herod the Great, initially . . .
    • His son Antipas seems to have traces of this, screaming at John the Baptist not to force him to have him executed.
  • Always with You: Jesus directly responds to Peter's Please Don't Leave Me speech by saying, "Don't worry, I am with you always, even unto the end of time."
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The Roman centurion played by Ernest Borgnine, whose servant Jesus heals, also appears at the Crufixion.
    • Both Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus (James Mason and Laurence Olivier respectively) appear more often than they do in the Gospels.
  • Badass Beard: Quite a few, though special mention has to go to John the Baptist's.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The actress playing the Blessed Virgin Mary does not appear to age until after the Crucifixtion.
  • Blind Seer: Herod the Great has one in his palace.
  • Canon Foreigner: Ian Holm's Zerah does not feature in any of the Gospels but instead was made up for the series in order to give Judas motivation to betray Jesus.
  • Composite Character: Both Roman centurions who appear in the Gospels (the one with the ill servant and the one who stands at the foot of the cross) are made into the same character.
  • Death by Adaptation: There is a scene that shows Joseph dying despite the fact that this is not mentioned in the Gospels.
  • Driven to Suicide: Judas hangs himself after he realises he has led Jesus to His death.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: It is about Jesus Christ, so what did you expect?
  • Finger Tenting: Zerah does this in the scene where he tells Judas Iscariot how much the Sanhedrin knows about Jesus' ministry.
  • The Ghost: Tiberius Caesar, who is mentioned many times throughout the mini-series, but is not actually seen.
  • Ghost Extras: There were literally thousands in this mini-series.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Jesus is flogged by the Romans.
  • Grumpy Bear: Peter.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Jesus basically tells Barrabas that "If you fight with the Romans, you might as well be just as cruel and merciless as they are" when Barrabas asks Jesus when he and the Zealots should attack the Roman soldiers in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate's command.
  • Kill 'em All
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Perhaps the most notable thing about Powell's Jesus are his extremely clear blue eyes. He also never blinks. Barely blinks. He does blink once, and it's a "look away and you'll miss it" type thing. This technique was deliberate on the part of the director; he wanted to add an air of divinity to the character by calling attention to the actor's gorgeous eyes.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Peter when he says to Jesus at the very end of the movie, "Please, stay with us, Lord, for the night cometh, and the day is far spent."
  • Punch Clock Villain: Pontius Pilate.
  • Playing Gertrude: Olivia Hussey portrayed Mary, the mother of Jesus, all throughout the series (both as a young maiden and as an older woman). At the time of production, she was 26, which is a whole seven (7) years younger than Robert Powell, Jesus's actor. The makeup used to make her look older than him and Mary Magdalene (played by a then-46 year old Anne Bancroft) was not entirely convincing.
  • Reality Ensues: During the Annunciation Mary's mother is woken up when she knocks some pots over, and sees what appears to be Mary talking to herself, since we only hear her side of the conversation with (what we presume to be) Gabriel.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jesus does this to the scribes and Pharisees in the Temple when he has his Unstoppable Rage moment towards the end third part of the mini-series.
  • Token Good Teammate: Ernest Borgnine's Centurion for the Romans and Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea for the Sanhedrin.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Jesus has one of these relatively minor "Unstoppable Rage" moments when he rants at the Pharisees in the Temple in Jerusalem and destroys the moneychangers' tables inside the temple.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Judas Iscariot is portrayed as this. He believes that Jesus is the Messiah who will defeat the Romans in a grand stroke and betrays Him simply so that He can explain Himself to the Sanhedrin. It doesn't go very well.
  • You Are Not Alone: Peter when he tells Jesus that he will stick by and protect him no matter what happens.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Zealots.

Alternative Title(s):

Jesus Of Nazareth