The Young Messiah — which comes out this Friday — isn’t the first film to focus on the early childhood of Jesus. Nearly 30 years ago, an Italian filmmaker named Franco Rossi directed a two-part TV-movie called Un bambino di nome Gesù (a.k.a. A Child Called Jesus), and it’s striking to see how much the two films have in common.
THE BIBLE Collection was, and is, a great idea, but like so many great ideas, its execution has proved rather uneven.
The initial films in this made-for-TV series — Abraham, Jacob and especially Joseph — treated biblical sex and violence with uncommon frankness, and they brought to life biblical stories that had, until then, languished in cinematic obscurity. Moses covered more familiar territory, but its down-to-earth naturalism and a terrific performance by Ben Kingsley helped to set it apart from the overblown epics of the past.