This made-for-TV motion picture depicts the struggle of early Christians as they spread their new faith in often hostile regions in the Middle East and Europe. Heading the cast are Anthony Hopkins as the evangelist Paul and Robert Foxworth as the apostle Peter. Both actors portray their characters as quite human; sometimes they are strong and resolute, but sometimes they are weak and indecisive. They argue, reconcile, backtrack, and forge ahead. Never, however, do they become simplistic Christian icons or mere mouthpieces for the Christian message. Hopkins gets most of the camera time, and he doesn't waste it. He develops Paul as introspective, at times full of self-recrimination. But even when Paul doubts his ability to carry out his overwhelming task, Hopkins presents him as a man in whom the fire of faith continues to burn. Herbert Lom is particularly good as Barnabas, a Christian who supports and encourages Paul. Others who help distinguish the film include Jon Finch as Luke, John Rhys-Davies as Silas, David Gilliam as Mark, and Julian Fellowes as Nero. In his brief appearance, Fellowes defines Nero as articulate and crafty -- a subtle schemer who masks his evil with his aristocratic bearing and regal trappings. For audiences that favor period atmosphere, the film has plenty of it: authentic costumes, marble floors, many-columned buildings, torchlit alleyways, and the tramp of Roman soldiers on the stones of the Appian Way in Rome. Except for the crucifixion scene at the end, the film avoids graphic depiction of violence. It is well suited for family viewing.
by Mike Cummings review