Updated: May 29, 2020
Screen legend Max Von Sydow, who died today, earned his status through great work with Ingmar Bergman and a wealth of movies spanning many decades. Sadly for me as a former Nevada film commissioner and enthusiast for the state’s filming opportunities, Sydow’s high points did not include the movie he made near Reno, The Greatest Story Ever Told. No problem with von Sydow’s performance—he played Jesus with sensitivity and skill. But the star-studded production failed to impress 1965’s critics, who referred to the 3+ hour long epic as “The Longest Story Ever Told.” Nonetheless, the film earned five Oscar nominations in technical categories, including cinematography. That cinematography recreated the Holy Land in the U.S. Southwest as well as in northern Nevada at Pyramid Lake. Pyramid starred as the Sea of Galilee, looking close enough but failing to disguise the tufa rock formation that gives the lake its name.