Masada (1981)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Action, Drama, History
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After the destruction of the Second Temple, 900 Jewish zealots hold out against a 5000 man Roman legion on the mountaintop fortress of Masada.

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Title: Masada (1981– )

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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 3 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 General Cornelius Flavius Silva / ... (4 episodes, 1981)
 Eleazar ben Yair (4 episodes, 1981)
 Sheva (4 episodes, 1981)
 Aaron (4 episodes, 1981)
Giulia Pagano ...
 Miriam (4 episodes, 1981)
 Rubrius Gallus (4 episodes, 1981)
 Gideon (4 episodes, 1981)
 Falco (4 episodes, 1981)
Clive Francis ...
 Attius, Head Tribune (4 episodes, 1981)
David Opatoshu ...
 Shimon (4 episodes, 1981)
Richard Pierson ...
 Ephraim (4 episodes, 1981)
 Jerahmeel, Head Essene (4 episodes, 1981)
David A. Block ...
 Reuben (4 episodes, 1981)
 Chief Priest (4 episodes, 1981)
David Mauro ...
 Epos (4 episodes, 1981)
Alexander Peleg ...
 Zidon (4 episodes, 1981)
 Seth (4 episodes, 1981)
Michael Shillo ...
 Ezra (4 episodes, 1981)
Christopher Biggins ...
 Albinus (3 episodes, 1981)
Heinz Bernard ...
 Elder (3 episodes, 1981)
 Plinius (3 episodes, 1981)
 Fronto (3 episodes, 1981)
Reuven Bar-Yotam ...
 Butcher (3 episodes, 1981)
Denis Quilley ...
 Gen. Marcus Quadratus / ... (2 episodes, 1981)
 Merovius, Head Tribune (2 episodes, 1981)
Jack Watson ...
 Decurion (2 episodes, 1981)
Derek Newark ...
 Engineering Officer (2 episodes, 1981)
 Vettius (2 episodes, 1981)
 Milades (2 episodes, 1981)
Michael Schneider ...
 Surgeon (2 episodes, 1981)


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 Cleo <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama | History


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dödsfiender  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (theatrical) | (cut) (theatrical)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In order to avoid the heat of the Israeli desert, the crew employed a unique shooting schedule: they divided the day into three eight-hour segments and only shot either late at night or early in the morning. They avoided shooting between late morning and late afternoon, the hottest part of the day. See more »


When the zealots try to hide the body of the legionnaire they have killed by the goat pen, the dead man lifts his head before they lift him up. See more »


Kophar: [in a patronizing tone] Your excellency, what an honor.
Cornelius Flavius Silva: Hello, Kophar. I see you're still one step ahead of leprosy.
See more »


Referenced in Striptease (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

What a spectacle! Absolutely brilliant!!!
24 October 2004 | by (Cieszyn, Poland) – See all my reviews

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!


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