It is an incredible move, if you can accept a blue-eyed Jesus. Franco Zeffirelli did it to subtly make Jesus stand out, since the director controversially chose to emphasize the humanness of Our Lord. The network almost refused to run it, despite the impressive cast of big name actors.
When he spies Jesus approaching as he is baptizing people, you see him express first an unselfish sadness that he must soon leave this world, followed immediately by a redemptive and inexpressible joy that the Messiah has arrived. Beautiful.
I don't praise his performance lightly, because the cast is a star-studded who's who of all the big actors of that era. Robert Powell's portrayal of Jesus is almost hypnotic as he tells parables and befriends those around him, including prostitutes and tax collectors. James Farrentino is a burly, blustery Simon Peter, gruffly cursing his crew as they get the boats in. In a crucial and tender moment at Matthew the tax collector's house, he drops his skepticism by tearfully confessing to Jesus, "I'm a stupid man."
Anthony Quinn as a tormented Caiaphas discussing Jesus with the Sanhedrin brings you right there, 2000 dusty years ago as they ponder and debate what it all means. Peter Ustinov is a deliciously decadent Herod, whose imperious and courtly mien descends into a purple murderous rage at the realization that the baby Messiah has escaped his grasp. These scenes bring the Bible stories to life in a way reading cannot, and I love reading and I love the Bible.
It is a reverent and beautiful treatment of the life of Jesus. I highly recommend it to you and your family.
For more information, I stumbled upon this website that links Bible passages to scenes of the movie.