In the 1960s, Biblical epics had become a whole genre unto themselves, with George Stevens creating the monumental but overlong and dull, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965), featuring lavish sets and an all-star cast of thousands.
In 1965, Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, a gay atheist Marxist, approached the subject in an entirely fresh way with The Gospel According to St. Matthew, which featured a non-professional cast, a naturalistic (black-and-white) style, and language taken directly from the Bible.
Well received by critics, Pasolini’s film was nominated for three Oscars.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Art Direction-Set Decoration (b/w): Luigi Scaccianoce
Scoring: Luis Enrique Bacalov
Costume Design (b/w): Danilo Donati
Oscar Awards: None
In 1973, The Passion was treated in two counter-cultural musicals: Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.
In 1988, director Martin Scorsese examined Jesus Christs final days in The Last Temptation of Christ, a controversial film based on Nikos Kazantzakis best-selling novel.