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A.D.-Anno Domini-The Complete 9 Hr. Miniseries

A.D.-Anno Domini-The Complete 9 hr. Miniseries

A.D.-Anno Domini is a historical drama miniseries that aired in 1985. It is based on the biblical book of Acts and covers the events that happened after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the rise and fall of several Roman emperors. The miniseries features a star-studded cast, including Anthony Andrews, Colleen Dewhurst, Ava Gardner, James Mason, Ian McShane, Susan Sarandon, and Ben Vereen. It was produced by Vincenzo Labella, who also produced the acclaimed Jesus of Nazareth (1977), which served as a prequel to A.D.-Anno Domini.

Plot Summary

The miniseries consists of six episodes, each lasting about 90 minutes. The episodes are as follows:

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  • Episode 1: The episode begins with the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection three days later. His disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit and start preaching the gospel in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, in Rome, Emperor Tiberius is dying and his ambitious nephew Caligula is plotting to take over the throne. He is aided by his lover Livilla and her brother Sejanus, who is the commander of the Praetorian Guard.

  • Episode 2: The episode focuses on the persecution of the Christians by the Jewish authorities and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Stephen, one of the first deacons, is stoned to death for his faith. Saul, a zealous Pharisee, is present at his execution and approves of it. He then begins to hunt down and arrest Christians. On his way to Damascus, he has a vision of Jesus and is converted to Christianity. He changes his name to Paul and becomes one of the most influential apostles. In Rome, Caligula murders Tiberius and becomes emperor. He proves to be a mad and cruel ruler, who declares himself a god and forces everyone to worship him.

  • Episode 3: The episode depicts the spread of Christianity to the Gentile world. Peter, the leader of the apostles, has a vision that tells him to accept non-Jews into the faith. He baptizes Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and his household. Paul and Barnabas embark on their first missionary journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor. They face opposition from both Jews and pagans, but also win many converts. In Rome, Caligula's reign of terror comes to an end when he is assassinated by his own guards. His uncle Claudius succeeds him as emperor. He is a weak and timid man, who is manipulated by his wife Messalina and his freedman Narcissus.

  • Episode 4: The episode covers the events of the Council of Jerusalem, where Peter and Paul debate whether Gentile Christians should follow the Jewish law or not. They reach a compromise that allows them to coexist peacefully. Paul then continues his missionary work in Greece and Macedonia, where he meets Lydia, Aquila, Priscilla, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. He also visits Athens and Corinth, where he preaches to different audiences. In Rome, Claudius divorces Messalina after discovering her infidelity and marries his niece Agrippina. She persuades him to adopt her son Nero as his heir.

  • Episode 5: The episode chronicles the final years of Paul's ministry and the beginning of Nero's reign. Paul returns to Jerusalem, where he is arrested by the Jewish mob and taken to Caesarea for trial. He appeals to Caesar and is sent to Rome as a prisoner. There he meets Seneca, Nero's tutor, and Nerva, a senator who sympathizes with him. He also writes letters to various churches and individuals, offering them encouragement and advice. Nero becomes emperor after Claudius dies from poisoning. He starts off as a benevolent ruler, but soon becomes corrupted by power and lust.

Episode 6: The episode concludes with the great fire of Rome in 64 AD and the subsequent persecution of Christians by Nero. He blames them for the fire and orders them to be tortured and killed in various ways. Peter and Paul are among the victims. Peter is crucified upside down at his own request. Paul is beheaded outside the city walls. Nero also kills his mother Agrippina, his wife Octavia, his mistress Poppaea, and his tutor Seneca. He eventually commits suicide in 68 AD, after being declared a public enemy by the Senate. The miniseries ends with a hopeful note, as the Christian faith survives and spreads despite the oppression.

Reception and Legacy

A.D.-Anno Domini was a commercial and critical success when it aired in 1985. It was nominated for two Emmy Awards, winning one for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries or a Special. It was also praised for its historical accuracy, production values, and performances. It was watched by millions of viewers around the world and became one of the most popular miniseries of all time.

The miniseries has been released on DVD and VHS in various formats and editions. It is also available for streaming on Prime Video. It has inspired several spin-offs and adaptations, such as A.D. The Bible Continues (2015), a television series that follows the aftermath of the crucifixion, and A.D. Kingdom and Empire (2016), a novelization of the miniseries by Angela Hunt.

A.D.-Anno Domini is a classic example of biblical epic filmmaking, that combines historical drama, religious themes, and spectacular spectacle. It is a must-watch for fans of history, Christianity, and cinema.

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