Flavius Silva, commander in Roman Judea, wants to reach a reasonable compromise with the Jewish Zealots and withdraw his legion. Events and personalities in Rome, however, lead to his besieging the fortress of Masada. There the engineering genius of the Romans must fight both the harsh climate and landscape, and the passion and ingenuity of Eleazar Ben Yair and his people. Written by
Producer Josef Shaftel and Cinerama announced this as a major theatrical release in 1970. See more »
At approximately 23 minutes in, we get a close-up of an obvious modern fiberglass bow covered in what appears to be black electrical tape. See more »
Eleazar ben Yair:
You say you will catch us, and kill us? I invite you to try.
Cornelius Flavius Silva:
You invite me to try? Your country is one long and narrow graveyard already; your cities are flatter than your deserts, your temple has been destroyed and most of the survivors are slaves, all for seven years of our 'trying'. Give us our due, man, we know how to kill.
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The movie is based on the book THE ANTAGONISTS and shows the story of the Jewish defense from the Roman oppressor. The story seems to be quite short and not the main focus of the film. Jews led by Eleazar stay in a huge fortress of Masada on the Judean Desert which is their only safe place away from the Roman Empire. Romans are forced to conquer them.
The movie shows human soul, psychological aspect of humanity, even of the "triumphant Roman leaders". This psychological aspect is revealed in both main characters: the Jewish leader Eleazar, portrayed wonderfully by Peter Strauss (one of his really best roles), and Flavius Silva (great Peter O'Toole), the leader of the 10th legion attempting at finishing the conquest and returning to Rome. Both of them are full of doubts. They change over the movie, develop like all of us do.
Silva doubts the logic of the whole campaign, which is especially emphasized at the end when he says desperately "What victory!? We have won a rock on the shore of the poisoned sea!" A rock that has cost thousands of innocent lives. He is also an honorable man. When Pomponius Falco takes over the leadership and occurs to be brutal, Silva tries his best to prove that this way of dealing with the enemy is "not Rome!" He even meets with Eleazar to justify these deeds.
Eleazar is a good Jew. He cares for his people but there is one thing which makes others confused. He doubts in the existence of God. However, deeply in his heart, there is a place for Him. Peter Strauss stresses this memorably when he goes to pray in order the Romans to stop killing the innocent Jews. In fact, he proves to love his people and that is, most appealingly, a better knowledge of God than any other...
The character that needs mentioning is Sheva (Barbara Carrera). She, in fact, is not very sure if she loves Silva or not. On the one hand, she wants to stay with him. On the other hand, her people seem to be more important. Finally, she decides to leave him. Her love is divided and demands a difficult choice. VERY PSYCHOLOGICAL!
In this comment I concentrated mostly on the psychological aspect. Yes, I admit that it appears to be the most significant factor for me. There are, of course, other factors that make me love this movie: the whole story, the locations, the music, the stars... EVERYTHING! But you will have a chance to appreciate all these aspects when you decide to see MASADA.
Finally, the end is unforgettable: "Take them their victory! Then they will remember..." Truly impressive script! One of the best lessons of life! 10/10 for the whole movie!
The final reference to modern Israel appears to be particularly touching!
YES, WE REMEMBER MASADA AND THE GROUP OF BRAVE PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT AFRAID TO REMAIN THEMSELVES AND RETAIN THEIR DIGNITY.
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