Epic account of the thief Barabbas, who was spared crucifixion when Pilate manipulated the crowd into to pardoning him, rather than Jesus. Struggling with his spirituality, Barabbas goes through many ordeals leading him to the gladiatorial arena, where he tries to win his freedom and confront his inner demons, ultimately becoming a follower of the man who was crucified in his place. Written by
Anthony Quinn was appearing on Broadway in "Becket" (as King Henry II) when he was approached to appear in this film. Producer Dino De Laurentiis had to buy up his Broadway contract to secure his release from the play - something Quinn was anxious for him to do, as he greatly disliked his co-star, Laurence Olivier. After Quinn had departed, Olivier continued in the play, but took over Quinn's part instead of continuing in the title role. See more »
Torvald gets caught in his own net and dragged around in it by his own chariot, but after he is dead he only has a rope tied around his wrist and is not wrapped in the net. See more »
[after being released from jail, Barabbas enters a tavern]
Here's a fine sight. Six weeks and nobody's moved!
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This film is not purely a Hollywood production since this was made in cooperation with the Italian producers. Nevertheless, it can be categorized to all classical movies, like CLEOPATRA, QUO VADIS, BEN HUR, or SPARTACUS. What is there that makes this film so similar?
It is a fantasy faithful to history. These two worlds, the historical and the fictitious one, integrate together. The story of Barabbas is strongly linked to the times of the 1st century, the beginnings of the Christian faith and the cruel reign of Caesars, esp. Nero. Par Lagerkvist, the author of the novel BARABBAS, which got the Noble Prize in 1951, showed Barabbas as someone who does not believe, but the light of Christ is present in his soul from the moment he was set free and Jesus sentenced to be crucified. The spiritual content of the movie cannot be skipped. Barabbas experiences the struggle within his heart, though he mocks Nazarenes in the beginning. "Love one another" somehow unconsciously rings in his mind from the moment of Christ's death (the imagery of Jesus's crucifixion is one of the most powerful I have ever seen on screen). This is showed beautifully and faithfully to the book by Richard Fleischer in the movie.
Another aspect that makes the film similar to great, classical productions are the monumental scenes, particularly the arena moments. Lions, gladiators fighting on arena remind me of SPARTACUS (1960), THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932) or DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS (1954). Barabbas also fights as a gladiator with the bravest man of Rome, Torvald (Jack Palance), and wins...
And the cast... Great Anthony Quinn as Barabbas is very memorable. He beautifully presents his change of heart from a bad guy to the Christian. Silvana Mangano also does a good job as Rachel whose meeting with Christ changed her life forever; Vittorio Gassman gives a memorable performance as a Christian, Sahak, whose sole aim in life is following his Master to martyrdom; and Jack Palance is absolutely gorgeous as a cruel, "unconquered" Torvald.
I like this movie. It is a profound film, with a wonderful message. Even if you are not much aware of Christ, He is within you. The story of Barabbas, if true or not, also proves the fact that everything in our lives has a MEANING! NOTHING IS MEANINGLESS! Good movie! 8/10
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