By Tom Quiner
Here is an unusual description for a man: homosexual (his word) Roman Catholic film director, opera director, conservative politician who publicly supports the Church’s positions on issues related to homosexuality.
I’m describing the iconic Franco Zeffirelli who describes himself as “a Christian down to the depths of my spirit.” Yes, he actually served a stint in the Italian Senate from 1994 through 2001. But the 91 year old Mr. Zeffirelli is best known in the U.S. for three films, 1968’s “Romeo and Juliet,” 1972’s “Brother Son, Sister Moon” (on the life of St. Francis of Assisi), and 1977’s “Jesus of Nazareth.”
It is the final film that has had the greatest impact on me. I rank it as the best “Jesus film” ever made. Mr. Zeffirelli is an artist who knows how to tell a story with dramatic visual and emotional impact. Jesus of Nazareth featured a cast comprised of a who’s who from Hollywood, including Laurence Oliver, James Mason, Rod Steiger, and Anne Bancroft. And yet he squeezed sensational performances out of the little-known Robert Powell (as Jesus) and Olivia Hussey as Mary, the Mother of God.
On this Good Friday, I’d like to share a clip from the movie which depicts Christ’s crucifixion and final words.