The “Jesus” Film is a Winner!

By: Dan Wooding; ©2000
The “Jesus” film, which has been translated and shown all around the world since it was produced in the late 70’s was given a special award at the recent MovieGuide Awards Gala. Dan Wooding explains.



The JESUS film wins special Faith & Values Commendation for Technical and Evan­gelistic Achievement at star-studded 8th Annual MOVIEGUIDE(r) awards gala. Dr. Bill Bright and Paul Eshleman Honored for Film Shown to 3.3 Billion People and Translated into 566 Languages.

Before a star-studded audience of movie and television actors, actresses and studio bosses, the JESUS film was awarded a Special Faith & Values Commendation for Tech­nical and Evangelistic Achievement at the 8th Annual MOVIEGUIDE (r) Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry, held on March 15, at the Hilton Universal Hotel in Universal City, Calif.

In presenting the award to Paul Eshleman, international director of The JESUS Film Project (r), entertainer Pat Boone told the audience that included Smokey Robinson, Jane Russell, Richard Thomas—”John Boy” from The Waltons—Chuck Norris, and Steve Allen and his wife, Jayne Meadows, that the JESUS film, originally released by Warner Broth­ers, “has been seen by 3.3 billion people in 566 different languages. It’s a story of One whose life has impacted the world like no other.”


A clip was then shown of Larry King speaking on a special Christmas broadcast version of the JESUS film in which comments from celebrities about Jesus were edited into the movie. King said, “As a Jew, I have nothing but the greatest and most profound respect for Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He was, after all, Jewish; born Jewish, died Jewish…. I think Jesus Christ was the greatest single individual of both millenniums, and He had a more profound effect on mankind than any individual ever born. If there’s one person I would like to interview, it would be Jesus.”

After receiving the award, Paul Eshleman said, “This year we celebrate 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus. Every producer is looking for a script that ‘can’t miss.’ The JESUS film is taken from the Bible—the bestseller of all time—and the words of Jesus will last forever. They are words that give hope, meaning and answers of eternal life. Thank you very much, MOVIEGUIDE for this award. We are very grateful.” (Dr. Bright was unable to attend the event due to a prior commitment).

The audience was then showed a retrospective of other films made by Hollywood on the life of Jesus which, Pat Boone said, “gives us the real reason for the celebration of the millennium.”


For decades, Dr. Bill Bright, founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ, had dreamed of developing an appealing, biblically accurate film about the life of Christ. He saw how the life-changing message of Jesus Christ could reach the world’s millions—especially the illiterate—with greater impact through the medium of film. A film utilizing both sight and sound to deliver the message of Christ, he felt, could provide a powerful evangelistic tool that would bring the gospel message alive.

Dr. Bright foresaw a film, done accurately and adhering faithfully to Scriptures that could be translated and re-recorded into the languages of the world. To help produce that accu­racy, the script was sent for evaluation to 450 scholars and leaders from a variety of de­nominations and organizations before filming began in 1977. JESUS was produced at a cost of $6 million, primarily funded by long-time friends of Campus Crusade for Christ International, Bunker and Carolyn Hunt.

John Heyman, a film producer and financier with more than 30 films to his credit, pro­vided the driving force behind the production of JESUS.

“If you opened the Bible on your shelf to the Book of Luke right now, you would find the script of the film,” comments Eshleman. “The action and most of the words spoken by the actors and narrator alike were recorded in Scripture. In the film, virtually every word spoken by Jesus is taken directly from the Gospel according to Luke.”

After a six-month search and 263 screen tests, the lead role was awarded to English Shakespearean actor Brian Deacon. His portrayal of Jesus was so convincing that by­standers often broke into applause at the end of his speeches.

“Before its release, the film changed the lives of several who were involved,” Eshleman relates. “A college dropout who worked with props on the film received Christ as Savior and Lord. A film executive also invited Christ to come into his life.”

Distributed by Warner Brothers, the film JESUS opened in U.S. theaters in October 1979. Within a year, millions of Americans had seen the JESUS film, inspiring many to place their faith in Christ. By the end of 1980, with 31 language versions, JESUS became the world’s most-translated film. In second place at that time, with 26 translations: Gone With the Wind.

“From its inception,” Eshleman comments, “the JESUS film was envisioned as an evangelistic tool to be used worldwide. The film was produced to fully support that vision. The simple narrative, taken directly from the Gospel of Luke, made it easily adaptable for translation into any language.”

To make this vision a reality, Dr. Bright asked Paul Eshleman, who had been involved with the film from its earliest days, to head The JESUS Film Project, based in San Clemente, California.

Reports from 234 countries reveal that at least 108 million people have indicated deci­sions to follow Christ as a result of viewing the film JESUS.

For additional information on The JESUS Film Project or to request an interview with Paul Eshleman, please contact Mrs. Terry Duffy at 714-847-8835. General correspon­dence may also be sent to: P.O. Box 72007, San Clemente, CA 92674, USA, or in the U.S., contact made by calling: 800-432-1997. The Web site is at Jesus Film.

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