The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Dramatically wobbly and theologically muddled, a French extravaganza on the life of Jesus begins a North American tour

On the 80-ft. movie screen, a bare-backed Jesus was being flogged, each crack of the whip booming like an earthquake from a sound system clearly meant to emulate its subject and raise the dead. On the 72-ft. by 52-ft. stage in front of the film, 12 barefoot Apostles in russet rags were running away from a dwarf wielding a big, white feather and Roman soldiers dressed like Darth Vader. Across the arena, in a distracting reminder of secularity, a vast glowing sign touted the spirituous appeal of Bud Light. At the audience's feet lay crumbs from loaves passed, in keeping with...

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