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Dreary peplum with a second-rate cast and crew; as often happened in
this genre, an American actor (in this case, Howard Duff) was recruited
for the lead with the only notable in the Italian ranks being Arnoldo
Foa' (appearaing here as a holy man). Amadio is perhaps best-known for
the sexy giallo AMUCK! (1972); incidentally, the scenes requiring
special effects were handled by the versatile if erratic Antonio
Margheriti this one is climaxed, as were a few other entries in the
genre, by a natural disaster (with the prototype being THE LAST DAYS OF
POMPEII: by the way, I should be watching the 1926 and 1959 versions of
that popular and oft-filmed tale during the month-long Epic/Historical
films schedule). The typically sturdy score, then, is the work of two
distinguished composers Carlo Savina and Angelo Francesco Lavagnino.
The excuse for a plot that would lead to that reasonably-staged final spectacle the city of Niniveh, having shunned the gods, is destroyed in a flood sees a couple of royal brothers (the elder, a stoic but ill-at-ease Duff, rules Niniveh itself while his bland sibling is assigned the province of the once-mighty Babylon) falling over a young girl, the sole survivor of a decimated people from the mountains who arrives at Niniveh in the company of prophet-like Foa'. Besides, an ambitious Babylonian general deliberately creates discord among the two cities for his own personal gain though he's eventually routed by another officer loyal to the young king (slain by the general and making it look like it was Duff's handiwork!). Incidentally, having these Biblical cities for backdrops, necessitates that characters get saddled with such unpronounceable names as Sardanapalus and Zoroaster! For the record, the English translation of the film's original title is THE SEVEN FLAMES OF ASSUR the latter being the God worshipped throughout the Assyrian Empire, and the former a reference to a rite relating to the one-week period of preparation which a new ruler has to undergo prior to his official appointment (which is then followed by three days of festivities wherein, among other things, a lion hunt is organized).
Asurbanipal (Howard Duff) falls in love with Mirra (Jackie Lane) who is
promised to Shamash (Luciano Marin), Asurbanipal's brother . A jealous
Shamash bursts and decides to conquer the kingdom of Ninive whose king
is his brother . Then Shamash as new king of Babylonia join forces with
Babylonian army and helped by Arbace (Sbragia) wages war Asirians but
he is double-crossed . Finally , love between Asurbanipal and Mirra
originates ¨Fury of Gods¨ and a vengeful Asirian God named Assur sends
a curse by means of storms and floods from rivers Tigris and Eufrates .
This sword and sandals movie contains drama , thrills, spectacular battles and hokey historical events. Produced by Aldo Pomilia (Chelo Alonso's husband) who built some sets for two similar films ¨I Semiramide (1963) with Ivonne Forneaux and John Ericson ¨ and this one. Acceptable matte-shots by Joseph Nathanson and passable maquettes by Anthony Margueritti or Anthony Dawson subsequently popular as filmmaker of Italian terror and action movies . Atmospheric score by Carlo Savina and Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, Peplum's usual . The motion picture is regularly directed by Silvio Amadio who also realized another Peplum titled Minotaur the wild beast of Creta¨.
The picture is partially based on historical deeds . Asurbanipal or Sardanapalo was the last great king of Asiria , he was a cruel ruler for whom ¨War¨ was a mean and an end . However , he built the Ninive library where stored the knowledge ¨ from that time . It's true Asurbanipal fought (circa 639 a.c) against his brother and after his death (626 a.c) succeeded two monarchs until the Babylonians allied to Persians destroyed its capital Ninive (612). Furthermore , there appears Zoroaster well played by Arnaldo Foa who was known as a sage, magician, and miracle-worker in post-Classical Western culture ,his name was already associated with lost ancient wisdom . Zoroaster sees the human condition as the mental struggle between lie and truth and the condition for Free Will, which is arguably Zoroaster's greatest contribution to religious philosophy.Zoroaster is well portrayed by Arnaldo Foa almost always depicted with a beard, this along with other factors bear similarities to 19th century portraits of Jesus.
Other films about this Mesopotamian sub-genre are the following : ¨Semiramis¨ by Carlos Ludivico with Rhonda Fleming and Ricardo Montalban ; I'eroe di Babilonaia(1963) is another version of the conquest of Babylonia by Persians such as ¨Intolerance¨(D.W. Griffith) and ¨Goliat and La Schiava Ribelle¨ with Gordon Scott and Folco Lulli .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The noble, wise King Sardanapolo (a solid performance by Hoaward Duff) and his more soft and naive younger brother Prince Sammash (likable Luciano Marin) get into a bitter feud over the affections of sweet and alluring innocent peasant girl Mirra (gorgeous redhead stunner Jocelyn Lane). Meanwhile, the treacherous and ruthlessly ambitious General Arbace (a perfectly hateful Giancarlo Sbragia) plots against both siblings. Sounds pretty gripping and exciting, right? Well, alas it just ain't. Director Silvio Amadio gets the film off to a sluggish start and unfortunately fails to gain any momentum later on, thus allowing the picture to grind along at a pretty slow and meandering rate. Moreover, the talky script by Gino De Santis, Diego Fabbri, and Sergio Spina becomes bogged down in drippy soap opera-style situations and way too much banal dialogue. This film only occasionally bursts to life with the sporadic exciting moment: a thrilling lion hunt, a few stirring rough'n'ready swordfights, and a rousing large scale last reel flood. The capable cast do their best with the static material. Both Tino Santoni's lush widescreen cinematography and the spirited score by Carlo Savini, Mario Mascimbene, and Angelo Francesco Lavagnino are up to par. Watchable, but overall really blah and hence instantly forgettable.
Two brothers battle it out for the love of a slave girl in ancient Babylon. Its got Hammurabi and Zoroaster thrown into the mix of a familial relationship gone sour. It ends with one hell of a flood and a raging fire. (Look for the burning candle that falls on a drowning woman's face.) A perfectly forgettable time killer.
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