Mara and her husband Manoa are both upstanding and religious Israelites living under the harsh and unjust rule of the Philistines. Much to their regret, they have not been able to have ... See full summary »
Mara and her husband Manoa are both upstanding and religious Israelites living under the harsh and unjust rule of the Philistines. Much to their regret, they have not been able to have children. One day, a mysterious stranger appears to Mara and promises her that she will bear a son whom she is to call Samson. The stranger tells her that as one chosen by God Samson will fight the Philistines, will have immense strength at his disposal, but that he may never cut his hair (or drink alcohol); otherwise this gift will be lost. Samson is born and as foretold he grows into a boy with amazing strength. As time passes, Samson becomes an attractive young man and young women begin to interest him more and more. Naomi, a pretty but rather melancholic girl, falls deeply in love with him. During a walk Samson learns the young woman's story. When she was a small child, her village was exterminated by the Philistines and her whole family butchered. Since then Naomi has not only been in mourning, but... Written by
This is the third version of the Biblical tale that I've watched - or fourth, if you include the peplum SAMSON (1961); the best of the lot, clearly, remains Cecil B. De Mille's 1949 spectacular.
Since this is part of a series of made-for-TV films highlighting famous stories from the Bible, one is surprised to find a celebrated and talented director such as Nicolas Roeg involved - though they all managed to attract a vast array of international and upcoming stars. That said, Roeg's career has been steadily on a downhill slide ever since the mid-80s - surely one of the saddest declines in recent memory! This film was actually written by the director's frequent collaborator Allan Scott (including the masterpiece DON'T LOOK NOW ), but the magic is seldom in evidence on this particular occasion - and the end result is as bland as its TV origins suggest...
Even so, it's not entirely worthless if clearly overly-padded at a length of nearly 3 hours: while the look of the film is curiously drab, the star cast offers compensations - best of all, perhaps, are Dennis Hopper (as a prescient Philistine General), Michael Gambon (the Philistine ruler) and Daniel Massey (as a learned Jewish elder). Still, though Liz Hurley is ideally cast as Delilah, her performance is too modern - and, consequently, the character's ultimate redemption lacks conviction; as for Eric Thal's Samson, the script may have made him more conflicted than Victor Mature's take in the De Mille version - but again, rather than evoke the traits one should associate with this Biblical character, the actor's boyish looks merely bring to mind the pumped-up heroes of juvenile sword-and-sorcery films and TV series of recent vintage...
Incidentally, I only rented this because my father had been whining about "The Bible Collection" on DVD for months (I brought him MOSES  at the same time but, even if it featured Ben Kingsley, Frank Langella and Christopher Lee, opted not to watch it myself); eventually, he too - who had caught many of Hollywood's classic historical epics when new - was ultimately unimpressed, and readily admitted that these newer incarnations offered no competition!
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