Friday, May 24, 2024

A.D. Anno Domini – The Trials and Triumphs of the Early Church, Part 2




The 1985 sequel to Jesus of Nazareth. From the [same] producer, a compelling film dramatizing the trials and triumph of the early Church. The Book of Acts comes alive in this epic covering the years 30-69 A.D. Filmed on location in the Middle East and Europe, A.D. vividly depicts the rising confrontation between the mighty Roman Empire, Jewish zealots, and early Christians. Painstakingly researched by award-winning producer Vincenzo Labella, this compelling mini-series blends Biblical narrative with historic incidents and engaging fictional characters. Rejoice with Christ’s disciples at Pentecost, and cry with them at the stoning of Stephen. Watch the Church grow – Saul is dramatically converted, Peter performs wonders, and Philip baptizes the Ethiopian. Witness the barbarous treatment of Christians at the hands of Roman leaders, and finally, marvel at the great triumph of the Church, despite persecution and the martyrdom of Peter and Paul. “A.D. was the final installment in a historical trilogy which included Moses the Lawgiver and Jesus of Nazareth. The teleplay, co-written by Anthony Burgess, chronicled the political intrigue which plagued the Roman Empire, with such key players as the emperors Tiberius (James Mason in his final role), Caligula (John McEnery), Claudius (Richard Kiley), and Nero (Anthony Andrews) calling the shots. Meanwhile, the death of Jesus Christ (played by Michael Wilding, son of Elizabeth Taylor) not only sparked a widespread monotheistic religious movement, but also resulted in devastating factionalism amongst the various Jewish sects of the era. Offsetting the true events are a number of fictional subplots, among them the romance between Jewish slave girl Sarah (Amanda Pays) and Roman soldier Valerius (Neil Dickson), and the tempestuous relationship between male and female gladiators, Caleb (Cecil Humphreys) and Corinna (Diana Venora). The huge cast included Ava Gardner, making her TV-movie debut as the scheming Agrippina. [It was] the winner of an Emmy award for Best Film Editing.” ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi Part 2 of 3 The initial 20 minutes or so of Part 1 are a bit slow (in large part due to the acting of Michael Wilding as Jesus) but the film improves markedly after that point.

The original series shown on television was either 9 or 12 hours long, (depending on the source consulted.) This version is only 6 hours, and because of that, whatever the original length, a substantial portion has been edited out. I had some difficulty with Part 1 and will be posting it when I have time to work out the kinks. If you prefer to see Part 1 before the rest of the film, it is posted in 5 sections on MissionDisciple’s channel. There is a playlist on that channel, “Jesus of Nazareth II (A.D.)” which will play the sections of Part 1 in order.

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