The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) - Biography, Drama, History

Hohum Score



An all-star, large scale epic movie that chronicles the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

IMDB: 6.6
Director: George Stevens
Stars: Max von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire
Length: 260 Minutes
PG Rating: G
Reviews: 36 out of 108 found boring (33.33%)

One-line Reviews (86)

A ponderous retelling of the life of Christ with Swedish actor Max von Sydow in the role of Jesus.

It does drag in some places but despite the few minor flaws this is an enjoyable film and does not lack the essence of the Gospels.

The basic story (from the manger to the cross to the empty tomb) is there, but in what seemed to me to be a rather disjointed fashion.

The costumes have an authentic look, and the landscapes are breathtaking---they are far superior to mere background paintings or sets, and convey a sense of being right there in Palestine two thousand years ago.

Like it is a subject of religious beliefs,many sentimentality's involved will betray themselves,touched by the proximity of core values,or outplayed in confusion by the smaller human dimension of something supposed to be holier.

) (it also cheats on the miracles), and the film is unrelievedly ponderous (the only possible humor comes from the straight-facedness of a few lines, like "Has he (God) anything to declare?

So while I loved it I would recommend it particularly to someone prepared to enjoy a slower film of great artistic beauty.

I have never seen this version, and would have little wish to do so; the 3 hour 17 minute version shown in British cinemas is quite long enough for me.

The story itself is enthralling, building to the shattering Crucifixion parts of the tale, while for every pointless star cameo shoehorned into the production, there's also a Savalas, a Baker and a Heston.

The crucifixion scene is also very fake looking and drab.

When it comes to overall entertainment-value - If I were given my choice of religious-themed movies - I'd certainly take Monty Python's parody "The Life Of Brian" over this laughably pretentious, self-righteous schlock any day.

It was breathtaking!

It ends up being just too ponderous in too many ways to be enjoyable.

Worth watching, at least once!

) Bad acting: according to many critics, the film's performances are cheesy and boring.

Visually Stunning.

or it just simply dragged.

Instead of a strong, vigorous, no-nonsense, charismatic, hectoring and even downright impatient Christ, we have a blue-eyed, mealy-mouthed, philosophic weakling, complete with a ridiculous group of impossibly supportive, wide-eyed followers, quite at odds with the rough, argumentative, dull-witted, self-seeking disciples the Bible so accurately describes.

So, it's well made but too long and boring.

I found this film ponderous and pretentious, like most of the 'spectacles' of that period.

Stevens' film is as passionless as a Church of England sermon, and though it looks beautiful--stunning, at times--this potted version of the life of Jesus is a dismal failure.

Of course, "Greatest" is still closer to the subject matter-- but only because of its slavish script, stilted dialogue (which uncomfortably fuses Jacobean grandiloquence with contemporary Sunday school jargon) and artistic self-indulgence.

Although I prefer Jesus OF NAZARETH over all the Biblical films depicting the life of Christ, this film follows at a close second (KING OF KINGS is enjoyable although loses most of its luster when compared to GREATEST).

A dull, unimaginative, paint-by-numbers rendition.

Soundtrack is cliché and adds no particularly sounding theme.

This is a big visual epic but is also extremely slow.

George Stevens' epic telling of the life of Jesus Christ is entirely too long and trite at times.

Overall,it was dull and boring despite of having some great moments in it and it would be worth watching for people who love religious movies.

The moment when Christ's life ends is stunning; the light goes out in Sydow's clear blue eyes just before he drops his head.

Stevens is, however, more ponderous than reverential.

The pace was regarded as too slow.

The cinematography is breathtaking.

It's way too long and has way too many scenes that just do not make any sense.


It's very slow and demanding, but as Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" unfolds with breathtaking splendor and deeply felt inspiration.

The music is also wonderful, the direction is above decent, there are some compelling parts in the story and of the acting Max Von Sydow comes off best while Charlton Heston and Dorothy McGuire are good and are examples of performances that grew on me with repeat viewings.

Boy did it cop some stick from the critics back then, including being named one of the worst movies of the year by the Harvard Lampoon, and it bombed at the box office.

The movie is a lifeless, meandering, somehow pointless exercise in film.

Sydow underplays his part so often one becomes bored, the last thing one should feel when seething the story of Christ.

I good movie to fall asleep to after eating too much dinner at Easter.

There has been a good deal of confusion about the 'official' version of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told.

It goes even deeper than that because it addresses the human being and all that is going on within them so well and does something even unexpected too.

), incorrectly letterboxed (it shows), color is faded and it's just plain boring after a while.

"The Greatest Story Ever Told" is one of those religious "EPIC"-SCREAMING presentations, which would bore even God to death.

The movie is helpful for many viewers, shows Christ in a bit different light (the 1960s) and may be enjoyable to watch not only by the "sword and sandal" epic fans.

It was frequently criticised for being overlong and slow-moving.

) It's boring: again, I disagree.

And it was rightly panned for being silly in spots and dull overall.

The Alfred Newman score is old-fashioned and dull.

Then of course there's Sydow, giving a beautifully intense turn as Jesus, a magnetic portrayal that holds the attention throughout.

The version i saw was 3 hours and 19 minutes, enough to bore you to tears ...

Sydow's Jesus always finishes sentences wherever at all possible with gravelly "z's", lending authority but perhaps a little tiresome if you notice.

However, the film is overlong and ponderously paced so some scenes in the middle come across as tiresome.

The ponderous delivery of Jesus' lines made me long to hear how he spoke in real life.

It was sumptuously shot and fantastic actors abound but it was, in a word, boring.

The photography is majestic and the period detail quite convincing, even if the film is slow-moving and overloaded with cheesy star cameos (particularly John Wayne as the Roman soldier).

His only begotten son turns out to be a bore".

Today, they're cliche.

I fell asleep in the first three attempts to see it in full.

While often ponderous in narrative, "The Greatest Story Ever Told", is a most reverent telling of the Christ tale.

Reverential to a fault and simplistic in a purely fundamentalist point of view, this spectacular movie is nevertheless a fascinating failure.

big long slow biblical epic .

Sydow didn't have very long hair, one or two of the big stars are a bit unnecessary, and because it is three hours and ten minutes long, it does get a bit boring.

Up until Wayne's point of attack, the whole scene was beautiful, the acting superb and the cinematography was breathtaking, like an artist's hand tediously darkening the canvas as the Christ's hour draws near and the unthinkable happens!

The casting of Scandinavian star Max von Sydow as the Semetic Jesus was also criticized, as was the use of spectacular locations from the American West instead of the more drab authentic Middle East.

Some of the individual performances are compelling.

All around played to their advantage,the grandiosity of the locations,the photography,the music score,the quality of acting,the script of short but intense dialogue,even the time given to such heroic epic.

Zzz .

As misconceived as the picture is, there are many stunning moments in it ; what the movie lacks in dramatic force is somewhat made up for by the brilliant use of camera work, the visual flow of images and an all encompassing music score, technical traits shared by Stevens' greatest works, A PLACE IN THE SUN and SHANE

Whatever problems there are with this effort, it remains an intriguing and most interesting attempt at what may be an impossible subject.

But above all this, the film's main problem is an extraordinarily slow pace that drags on for more than three hours.

How sad that George Stevens would take the life of Jesus Christ, lavish high production standards on filming it, and turn it into possibly the most boring big production ever made.

The film is good, has great, noble and valuable intentions but it is too long, a little tiresome at parts, some scenes weren't well planned and well filmed, Alfred Newman's musical score is quite annoying and there's too much music in sequences when it wasn't needed.

It looked very depressing and dull.

It's a sanitized message, nothing that "preachy" to turn off the unchurched, but I do think it was a bit too slow to go three hours and 20 minutes.

Beautifully photographed yet as dull, limp and lifeless as over-cooked pasta.

Added to that,I felt the the film is also too long at 4 hours that one may find the story moving too slow due to its pacing.

Worth Watching.

First of all, this is a very drab version of the Life of Christ on film.

One of the chief criticisms, other than being thought totally tedious by some critics, are the cameos by well-known actors.

)But there are so many things about TGSET which are truly magnificent and, in a Biblical movie, unique, that it deserves a general reevaluation, now that you can fast-forward through the dull and the dumb parts.

With that said, I still think this is a fascinating piece of cinema.

These are indeed stunning.

There are other little gems strewn throughout The Greatest Story Ever Told, moments that shine with unexpected clarity.

She blows them off, but when she finds the tomb is in fact empty, then runs out to confront the farmers, they're gone.

The sequence in which John the Baptist is introduced as a "breath of fresh air" into a drab and heartless world is for me the finest representation in all cinema of a Christian concept.