6.8/10
7,096
73 user 40 critic

The Robe (1953)

Unrated | | Drama, History | 4 December 1953 (France)
In the Roman province of Judea during the 1st century, Roman tribune Marcellus Gallio is ordered to crucify Jesus of Nazareth but is tormented by his guilty conscience afterwards.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In 1st century Rome, Christian slave Demetrius is sent to fight in the gladiatorial arena and Emperor Caligula seeks Jesus' robe for its supposedly magical powers.

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Victor Mature, Susan Hayward, Michael Rennie
Quo Vadis (1951)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A fierce Roman commander becomes infatuated with a beautiful Christian hostage and begins questioning the tyrannical leadership of the despot Emperor Nero.

Directors: Mervyn LeRoy, Anthony Mann
Stars: Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When strongman Samson rejects the love of the beautiful Philistine woman Delilah, she seeks vengeance that brings horrible consequences they both regret.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, Victor Mature, George Sanders
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A middle-aged woman walks out on her husband and family in an desperate attempt to find herself.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Jean Simmons, John Forsythe, Shirley Jones
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Simmons is magnetic as Charlotte, her lovely, delicate face reflecting the inner turmoil of a woman battling for sanity after she walks out of a mental institution.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Jean Simmons, Dan O'Herlihy, Rhonda Fleming
King of Kings (1961)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The temporary physical life of everyone's Savior, Jesus Christ.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In early 1900s England, a maid tries to blackmail her master into romancing her when she discovers he murdered his wife.

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons, Bill Travers
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The life of Jesus Christ.

Directors: George Stevens, David Lean, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Max von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Charlton Heston
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In the early 1900's Tennessee, a loving family undergoes the shock of the father's sudden, accidental death. The widow and her young son must endure the heartache of life following the ... See full summary »

Director: Alex Segal
Stars: Jean Simmons, Robert Preston, Pat Hingle
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Following her father's death, a British teen-aged heiress goes to live with her guardian uncle who is broke and scheming to murder his niece for her vast inheritance.

Director: Charles Frank
Stars: Jean Simmons, Derrick De Marney, Katina Paxinou
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young woman visits Paris with her brother only to discover the following morning he has gone missing and the hotel staff have no recollection of his presence.

Directors: Antony Darnborough, Terence Fisher
Stars: Jean Simmons, Dirk Bogarde, David Tomlinson
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Diana
...
...
Jay Robinson ...
...
Justus
...
Sen. Gallio
...
...
Miriam
...
Paulus
...
...
Junia
...
Abidor
Edit

Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The First Picture on the New Miracle Curved Screen ! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 December 1953 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Das Gewand  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$36,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording) (5.0) (L-R)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was advertised as "the modern entertainment miracle you can see without the use of glasses" - a dig at the 3D movies that were en vogue at the time. See more »

Goofs

In the opening scene in the Roman Forum there is a statue of the Roman poet, Antinuous, who was not born until 80 years or so after Christ's death. See more »

Quotes

Demetrius: Make Pilate understand that if he stains his hands with his blood, he's worse than a murderer.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hail, Caesar! (2016) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The Passion of the Robe
17 May 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

The Robe (1953) is interesting on at least two counts: (1) the film takes its place as the first ever CinemaScope theatrical release and is therefore worthy of close study by all motion picture students; and (2) the film depicts the Passion of Christ, (as the inciting action that triggers the subsequent plot development), and as such, threads that part of the storyline with a genre stretching back over 1,000 years, where we find the first extant Passion Play scripts (other than the Gospel records themselves, of course). This again makes the film worthy of study by film students and theologians alike.

The story of Christ on film is more important historically than may at first might appear. At either two or three reels, the first ever full "feature film" is arguably claimed to be the "The Passion Play" (1898), filmed in New York in 1897. The 'greatest story ever told' has hit the screen regularly thereafter, perhaps most famously in recent years with Mel Gibson's masterly personal tribute, "The Passion of the Christ" (2004).

I will now comment briefly on some of the technical and visual aspects of "The Robe". The camera work majors on long shots, and it is interesting to analyse how each shot is framed for all that width of screen. The camera is mostly static, and shots have longer than average duration; the compositions really are not designed for a lot of movement. This gives the film that famous "epic" style that goes for the grand sweep, both visually, musically and emotionally. There is not a lot of internalisation within the characterisation - it is the (literal) width and scope of the production that grabs attention. The filmic style is not very personal, however. It really is as if we have the best seats in an outdoor drama on a massive stage.

As you view, you may wish to make a note of the shots that seem to work best to the modern viewer. In the early part of the film, for instance, (just before the "Passion" sequence), Demetrius runs toward the camera in search of Jesus, after he's been beaten down by the Roman guards outside the gates of Jerusalem. An old lady sitting behind him on the cobbled pathway, has just finished tending his wounds. The shot is terrific, and works for modern audiences very well. Unlike a lot of the film, where much of the direction seems to be subjected to the demands of the CinemaScope process, this shot contains a dynamism that beguiles the film's age. Why? Because it uses the three dimensions of the set, along with arresting and dramatic movement, as Demetrius runs diagonally toward the camera and beyond us, toward the Crucifixion, which we see in the next sequence.

Another sequence that really works well is the chase in the second half. It is arguably the most dramatic sequence in the entire picture, and certainly uses CinemaScope to best effect, as the horses thunder toward the audience. Over fifty years later, and it would be hard to better.

By contrast, most of the film is played out in tableaux form, with action taking place across the width of the screen on lavish but shallow sets. The camera is a passive observer, unlike modern 'epics', which usually use very fluid camera set-ups along with computer-generated imagery (CGI). The actual crucifixion (masterful in what it does not show, by the way) is indeed an actual still life tableau, and could have easily been lifted straight out of the Oberammergau passion play. I do not say this to put the film down - this actually is a brilliant move, as it makes the action faithful to the genre of the passion play, which originally was played out exclusively through short tableaux.

In this writing, my aim has been simply to help you consider alternative ways of viewing this, and other, historic motion pictures. Particularly, you may wish to take note of the sometimes unusual way the film uses: (a) framing, (b) shot length, (c) staging, (d) camera movements, (e) the use (or rather, the almost total lack of use) of close ups and 'cut-away' shots, (f) lighting, and the (g) music score and dialogue. Of course, there is much more to note: the use of dissolves and fades, which helps underline the 'epic' grandeur of every sequence. And I've not even touched on the story line or the acting. (Question: how might it have played as a silent movie?)

In today's post-modernist society, the Passion play formula, with its emphasis on objective truth, may well gain renewed importance, since the narrative of Christ's passion may be in danger of becoming yet one more voice crying in a commercial wilderness devoid of ultimate human (and Godly) values of truth, goodness and conviction. The story of Jesus stands out as unique however it is viewed. The simple reason: the story of the Passion indeed IS unique! (Which is one reason why I consider it a 'genre' in its own right.) I contend, therefore, that "The Robe" is an important contribution to American cinema, both theologically and cinematographically; one among a select number of motion pictures, spanning over one hundred years of history, that every student should have opportunity to view and discuss at least once whilst still in full time education.

A sidebar: "The Robe" really needs to be watched in 'letterbox' (i.e. in the original format), which on a small display does not do the picture justice. With HDTV coming along, look out for a digital re-release that will restore the original to its pristine glory. (Also, a side-by-side comparison with the Academy format version - shot at the same time - would be beneficial.) Best of all, of course, arrange to get it screened in your local art house cinema, and see it as it is meant to be viewed: on the big screen.


11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?