Religion: Franco Zeffirelli's Classical Christ for Prime Time

When Cecil B. DeMille undertook to portray Jesus in his 1927 film King of Kings, he established a style of reverential spectacle that endured for decades in such religious pageants as Ben-Hur, The Robe, the remake of King of Kings, and The Greatest Story Ever Told. In recent years the interpretations have become broader. Jesus was a fierce champion of the oppressed in The Gospel According to St. Matthew, a crucified clown in Godspell, a befuddled mystic in Jesus Christ Superstar, a well-intentioned charlatan in The Passover Plot. A Danish producer is even...

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