Nicholas Ray's King of Kings (1961) was the first big-budget film to portray the face of Jesus. Jeffrey Hunter, the actor playing him, inevitably came in for unprecedented scrutiny and his image seared "Jesus" into the popular consciousness for decades to come. It did not do much for Hunter's career – although he was in the first episode of Star Trek.
"I want ... On a silver platter, the head of John the Baptist," says Salome after her dance. The cast of thousands, the stentorian diction, the soaring score, the Orson Welles voiceover – they really don't make them like that any longer. The shame is, they really don't show them often, either. It's part of the cultural trend of taking religion out of religious festivals.
Writing on Good Friday, having already consumed dollops of Sky and BBC News, various newspapers, Twitter, Facebook and BBC Radio London, Channel 4's airing of King Of Kings is the only sign of a religious holiday. That remains unsettling to me, largely because for so many years I had Easter rammed down my throat at Catholic schools.
I left school, sadly, with little knowledge of other faiths. So, when I found myself in Israel the following year being invited to share Passover I was in turn bemused, intrigued, and honoured. For many of you, the celebration of these festivals provides some of the more important moments of your year. For millions of others, Easter has other connotations. For me, it is the most optimistic of times, the harbinger of spring and summer joys ahead, a time of rebirth and regeneration.
However you pass your weekend, cherish that thought. I am off to lie down for a week now, and leave you in the capable hands of Victoria and Rhodri – for whom this Easter is just another weekend in the i office.Follow @stefanohat Reuse content