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>
There was speculation that remarks Richard Burton made about Hollywood blacklisting while filming this movie may be the reason why he never won an Oscar, despite being nominated seven times. See more »
Justus tells Marcellus that his grandson, who was born crippled and whom Jesus healed, was named for "Jonathan of old", who (Justus claims) was also born crippled. In the Jewish community, "Jonathan of old" would be the son of Saul, first king of Israel, and the best friend of David, Saul's successor. Jonathan was not born crippled; he had a son, Mephibosheth, who "was lame in both feet", but that was the result of an accident when he was 5 years old (2 Samuel 4:4). See more »
There seems to be little interest in this movie today but when originally released in 1953, it created a sensation and threatened, for a while, to replace "Gone With the Wind" as the highest-grossing film in history. And it was the first movie in CinemaScope -- "The Modern Entertainment Miracle You See Without the Use of Glasses!" Its opening half still plays well, even some 50 years later, but the second half tries to convincingly present the religious conversion of Marcellus -- a tricky proposition since it deals with an internal process -- and the result plays like a well-intentioned but rather simplistic Sunday sermon. Richard Burton was Oscar-nominated for his work but is clearly outshone by, of all people, Victor Mature as the slave, Demetrius. The scene of a sweaty, nearly naked Demetrius groaning and writhing under torture in a Roman dungeon helped establish Mature as "the back that launched a thousand whips." (The book "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies" is dedicated to him.) Mature played Demetrius again in one of the rare big-budget sequels of the 1950s, "Demetrius and the Gladiators," which wasn't very good but which was livelier and more "fun" than its pious predecessor.
21 of 29 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?