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Barabbas (1961)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 10 October 1962 (USA)
Barabbas, the criminal that Pontius Pilate induced the populace to vote to set free, so that Christ could be crucified, is haunted by the image of Jesus for the rest of his life.



(screenplay), (novel)

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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Norman Wooland ...
Joseph of Arimathea (as Arnoldo Foa')
Guido Celano ...


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 Humberto Amador

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"The motion picture that begins where the other big ones leave off" See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

10 October 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Barabbas  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(TCM print) (DVD release)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (Westrex Electric Recording) (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


As a follow up with producer Dino De Laurentiis, Richard Fleischer planned to make the Sacco and Vanzetti story, but it failed to get off the ground. Fleischer sued Dino but they had made up by 1974 when Fleischer directed " Mandingo" for the Italian producer. See more »


Torvald's own net is supposedly snagged by his chariot's wheels and he is dragged to his death, yet when the chariot comes to a stop his net is tied to his chariot inside the wheel, not on the outside of the wheel where the net was snagged. See more »


Barabbas: Darkness... I give myself up... into your keeping. It is... Barabbas.
See more »

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User Reviews

Outstanding religious spectacle with marvelous scenarios and excellent acting by large cast
25 March 2008 | by See all my reviews

Barabbas (Anthony Quinn) , a thief and killer , is set free by Pontius Pilatus (Arthur Kennedy) in place of Jesus who is condemned to die crucified . Then , Barabbas suffering living anguish by this deed for the rest of his existence . But again he's detained and sent to horrible sulfur mines in Sicily , including terrible work conditions ; there he meets a kind Christian named Sahak (Vittorio Gassman) . Later on , he is brought to a school of gladiators run by cruel Torvald (a sadistic Jack Palance) . In Rome Barabbas meets other Christians (Ernest Borgnine) and Saint Peter (Harry Andrews) .

This epic film contains spectacular scenarios , lavish production and terrific performances . Second movie version of the renowned story based on popular novel by Lagerkvist (Nobel's prize) and previously adapted (1952) in Sweden by Alf Sjoberg . Interesting screenplay by Christopher Fry (who wrote ¨The Bible¨ by John Huston also produced by Dino De Laurentiis) . Top-notch performance by Anthony Quinn , he plays like his previous characters , a Zorba style, adding a little of Quaimodo , though sometimes overacting . Jesus is played by Roy Mangano , brother of Silvana Mangano , Laurentiis's wife . Extraordinary support cast , including prestigious players such as Arthur Kennedy , Katy Jurado , Ernest Borgnine , Arnaldo Foa , Norman Wooland , Douglas Fowley and even Sharon Tate was an extra in the amphitheater scene .

The overwhelming circus scenes were shot in the arena of Verona . Impressive sets produced in high budget , such as the scenarios of the mines and the Roman circus . Magnificently climatic gladiators fights , featured by hundreds of extras and stunning effects . The breathtaking gladiator combats is still one of the best screen fights today , along with ¨Gladiator¨ by Ridley Scott . The Golgota crucifixion scenes were actually shot in a sun eclipse and filmed in Niza . In fact , the solar eclipse that takes place during the crucifixion scene was the real thing, an event for which director Richard Fleischer delayed shooting in order to capture the ethereal nature of the phenomenon . Problems lingered on the set and at a cost of over ten million of dollars , it was one of the most expensive pictures of its time and took long time to finish . Colorful cinematography by Aldo Tonti and evocative musical score by Mario Nascimbene . Firstly , the producer De Laurentiis thought in charge direction to Federico Fellini , though he appointed to Richard Fleischer who realizes a quality film-making .

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