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
Powerful giant conquered by lustful woman...; generally a very good film!
Biblical epics, since there have been many of them made so far, can be divided into three main subcategories: the high camp spectacles, the loose and distorted interpretations, and the truthful biblical productions. While the best example of the first group are the films made by the showman named Cecil B DeMille, the best example of the third group is SAMSON AND DELILAH (1996), one of the new international biblical productions. Among other new productions, including ABRAHAM (1994) with Richard Harris, MOSES (1995) with Ben Kingsley and JEREMIAH (1998) with Patrick Dempsey, this movie stands out as particularly entertaining, not because it is directed by Nicholas Roeg (who is a good director), but because of its very specific content, exceptionally interesting and up-to-date.
The story of Samson is the story of strength, calling, love, suffering, revenge, lust, treason, and, finally, forgiveness. When I was a child and listened to biblical stories, I was particularly touched by this very one. Then, as a boy, I was interested primarily in Samson's strength. It appealed to me as a story of a man who could win alone over the army. Yet, when I grew up, I noticed that there is something more than the story of a giant. I noticed some remarkable psychological aspects of his life story. Samson loved his people, the Israellites, but, since he loved the stranger flesh, lust drove him to his enemies, the Phillistines. When lust turned into love, treason appeared... and we all know how miserable his fate with short hair and blinded eyes was...
This very specific content is a pearl for making a movie. While Cecil B DeMille focused primarily on spectacle in his 1948 movie, Nicholas Roeg focuses on the psychological aspect. In this film, a viewer may lose the time distance because of some very profound, universal thoughts presented. "I think that I know myself so well but sometimes, I think that I do not know myself whatsoever" ... The best and richest reflections are the ones by Generale Tariq (Dennis Hopper), a Phillistine, who, though being an eminent person on the royal court at Gaza, claims to be the wrong person in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Although he is reasonable, he doubts his deeds and "the great victory" over such a weak enemy. He is also the only Phillistine who predicts the end - "Go, boy! Leave the gates of Gaza immediately!" which he says just before the temple falls, and it falls so realistically in the film! This role is wonderfully played by Dennis Hopper. Delilah (Liz Hurley) first sees the benefits galore from betraying Samson, but as their love proceeds, she hesitates to dare treason. In the end, she totally regrets but it is too late... Prince Sidqa (Ben Becker) is a proud young man who, unlike his teacher of fighting Generale Tariq (Dennis Hopper), sees the victory in slaying rather than tactics. The Israellites are rather primitive people, not only because they don't use iron, the new weapon of their masters, but because they cannot manage alone, without Samson. "God desires war now", which they shout after the claimed sign in the sky. Yet, there are proper characters. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Phillistines are showed as people searching for something rather than knowing everything. Therefore, the reality of that period is very accurate in the film in spite of the fact that some characters are fictitious.
The performances are particularly remarkable. Dennis Hopper, already mentioned, is very appealing in the role of Tariq; Liz Hurley is a beautiful Delilah with a huge potential in acting talent; Eric Thal is accurate as Samson since he looks very good and portrays a real man of strength betrayed and conquered; Ben Becker gives an authentic performance as Prince Sidqa expressing his pride and extremely sick ambition; yet, Michael Gambon portrays the king, Re Hamun, as someone who is not an absolute monarch but someone open to advice, particularly the advice of Tariq. Therefore, SAMSON AND DELILAH may be considered to be a masterwork of performances.
The reality of the biblical period (more than 1,000 years before Christ) in the times of judges is presented accurately. The costumes as well as some details from people's every day life make a wonderful journey to that, such a distant period (consider the iron used by Phillistines). There is also a historical emphasis on different lifestyles and believes of primitive at that time but monotheistic Israellites and modern but polytheistic Phillistines.
See SAMSON AND DELILAH. You don't have to be a fan of the Bible! The story is so great that it cannot be treated as the biblical story only. And that is what the film does. Strength, power, lust, murder, revenge, treason, forgiveness... Isn't that universal? 7/10
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