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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although widely regarded as the first film produced in the anamorphic CinemaScope format (along with How To Marry A Millionaire), that honour actually belongs to a French film shot in the late-1920s called Construire Un Feu (To Build A Fire). Based on a Jack London story and directed by Claude Autant-Lara, it utilised a lens developed by French astronomer Henri Chrétien and was patented as the Hypergonar process.
Bizarrely, higher-ups in the French film industry demanded that cinema owners stop showing the film, even threatening them with a revocation of their exhibition license should they not comply immediately. This perhaps explains why there are no surviving prints of this landmark film: indeed, only a scant handful of frames exist to this day.
In 1955, Chrétien received an Academy Award for his work on CinemaScope. See more »
Centurion Paulus should be wearing a transverse plume on his helmet not a front to back placement. See more »
'There's only one man at whose side I pray to sit.'
The film opens in Rome in the 18th year of the emperor Tiberius (Ernest Thesiger). Rome's legions stand guard on the boundaries of civilization from the foggy coasts of the northern seas to the ancient rivers of Babylon
Today the slave market is crowded because the emperor's heir and regent, the young Caligula (Jay Robinson) is coming to buy gladiators He probably will not be pleased to see Tribune Marcellus Gallio
Marcellus (Richard Burton) forgot the promise he made to Diana (Jean Simmons) to marry her when they grew up They were friends many years ago when they were children Now, since her father death, Diana has been the ward of the emperor and his wife Empress Julia (Rosalind Ivan) thinks she could be good for Caligula
At the auction, Caligula leaves the place very angry Marcellus buys a rebellious Greek with the name of Demetrius (Victor Mature) to be his personal attendant
Few hours later, Marcellus pays the consequences for humiliating Caligula, and is ordered to the garrison at Jerusalem, the worst pest-hole in the empire where the people are always on the verge of rebellion Caligula hoped by this order to give Marcellus his death sentence Senator Gallio (Torin Thatcher) asks his son Marcellus to be above all a Roman and a man of honor
On the deck before the galley set sail to Palestine, Diana appears to tell Marcellus that she's going back to Capri to ask the emperor to intercede for him Marcellus didn't believe that a girl of 11 could fall in love and stay in love all these years
All the spirit of the age is present in Koster's epic: The wilderness of the land of Galilee; the massage relaxing area; the terrifying meeting of Demetrius with one of Jesus' disciples; the Roman procurator of Judea asking to wash his hands more than once; the tribune's first battle trophy, for victory over the king of the Jews; the spectacular sword fight between two officers of the empire; and a lost robe in the hands of a runaway slave...
Richard Burton is the brave Tribune who renews his pledge of loyalty to his emperor and to Rome; Jean Simmons is lovely as the exquisite maiden who stands firmly besides her love; Victor Mature is brave and spirited as the Greek slave; Michael Rennie is serious and profound in thoughts and manners as Simon the Galilean; Jay Robinson is terrific as the vicious, treacherous young Caligula drunk with power; Dean Jagger is full of devotion and reverence as the humble and honest Justus; Ernest Thesiger is efficient enough as the austere Tiberius; Betta St. John is so sweet as the disabled believer Miriam; and Torin Thatcher is too helpless as the proud Senator
It is notable that Jesus of Nazareth is seen from far away riding a white donkey with all the people around carrying palms and as a tortured figure, impossible to discern lying beneath the heavy cross... Henry Koster restraints with dignity the recreation of the execution carried out at Calvary, outside Jerusalem...
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