Marcellus is a tribune in the time of Christ. He is in charge of the group that is assigned to crucify Jesus. Drunk, he wins Jesus' homespun robe after the crucifixion. He is tormented by nightmares and delusions after the event. Hoping to find a way to live with what he has done, and still not believing in Jesus, he returns to Palestine to try and learn what he can of the man he killed. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Famous as the first film released in CinemaScope. It was not planned that way. After a week of shooting in standard "flat" Academy aspect ratio (1.37:1), the production was shut down. When production was resumed, they started from scratch, shooting alternate takes in both CinemaScope, and Academy format, on the assumption that not all theaters booking the film would be rushing to purchase expensive wide screens and stereophonic sound playback equipment. The film was released in CinemaScope only theatrically at first. In the 1990's this "flat" version was released to television (when "letterboxing" began to be used for widescreen films shown there). . See more »
The characters constantly refer to the province Jerusalem is located in as "Palestine". At the time the film is set (AD 30's), Jerusalem was located in the province of "Judea". Judea would not be called Palestine until Emperor Hadrian renamed it ("Syria Palaestina") in 135 AD at the end of the Jewish Revolt. See more »
This film has much that makes it stand out among the cross and sandals epics of the fifties and sixties. based on the best selling novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, helmed by Hollywood first rank director Henry Koster, the work has a string of memorable performances. Richard Burton, admittedly not a favorite actor of mine does a credible turn in the lead role of Marcellus, while the lovely Jean Simmons is incredible as the young woman he loves, Diana. Michael Rennie is a quiet but forceful Peter, while Jay Robinson steals the picture as the depraved Emperor Caligula. The minor roles are also well acted. The cinematography is magnificent, while the film is tied together beautifully by the eerie and haunting musical score of Alfred Newman, a prim film composer of his day. Altogether a very watchable movie that even the most fundamental Christian could not find fault with.
If there is one failing with the story, and it is a minor one, Emperor Tiberias is presented as an honorable ruler and not as the depraved lecher he really was. He only comes off looking as well in history as he was because his grandson Caligula was so much worse.
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