Marcellus is a tribune in the time of Christ. He is in charge of the group that is assigned to crucify Jesus. Drunk, he wins Jesus' homespun robe after the crucifixion. He is tormented by nightmares and delusions after the event. Hoping to find a way to live with what he has done, and still not believing in Jesus, he returns to Palestine to try and learn what he can of the man he killed.Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Production of this film had already started when 20th Century Fox chief Darryl F. Zanuck decided that this was to be the first film shot in CinemaScope (2.55:1 aspect ratio). Thereafter shooting continued in both the new format and "Academy ratio" (1.37:1 , non-wide-screen) for use in theaters not yet using wide-screen projection. Each time a shot was completed for the scope version, the actors had to do another take for the "flat" version. The most jarring differences are the performances of Richard Burton (Marcellus) and Jay Robinson (Caligula) that are actually improved in the 'Flat' version. There has also been a 'pan & scan' version on video that is not to be confused with the 'Flat' version. The Fox Movie Channel will sometimes air the 'Flat' version; this was the version that was broadcast on TV during the 60's and 70's before the advent of home video. For many years,the "standard" screen version was the one usually shown on TV; therefore, no loss of image by "cropping" the picture's sides resulted such as in "pan and scan" conversions from scope prints. Other films also captured in both aspect rations included Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Sign of the Pagan and The Black Shield of Falworth. See more »
'There's only one man at whose side I pray to sit.'
The film opens in Rome in the 18th year of the emperor Tiberius (Ernest Thesiger). Rome's legions stand guard on the boundaries of civilization from the foggy coasts of the northern seas to the ancient rivers of Babylon
Today the slave market is crowded because the emperor's heir and regent, the young Caligula (Jay Robinson) is coming to buy gladiators He probably will not be pleased to see Tribune Marcellus Gallio
Marcellus (Richard Burton) forgot the promise he made to Diana (Jean Simmons) to marry her when they grew up They were friends many years ago when they were children Now, since her father death, Diana has been the ward of the emperor and his wife Empress Julia (Rosalind Ivan) thinks she could be good for Caligula
At the auction, Caligula leaves the place very angry Marcellus buys a rebellious Greek with the name of Demetrius (Victor Mature) to be his personal attendant
Few hours later, Marcellus pays the consequences for humiliating Caligula, and is ordered to the garrison at Jerusalem, the worst pest-hole in the empire where the people are always on the verge of rebellion Caligula hoped by this order to give Marcellus his death sentence Senator Gallio (Torin Thatcher) asks his son Marcellus to be above all a Roman and a man of honor
On the deck before the galley set sail to Palestine, Diana appears to tell Marcellus that she's going back to Capri to ask the emperor to intercede for him Marcellus didn't believe that a girl of 11 could fall in love and stay in love all these years
All the spirit of the age is present in Koster's epic: The wilderness of the land of Galilee; the massage relaxing area; the terrifying meeting of Demetrius with one of Jesus' disciples; the Roman procurator of Judea asking to wash his hands more than once; the tribune's first battle trophy, for victory over the king of the Jews; the spectacular sword fight between two officers of the empire; and a lost robe in the hands of a runaway slave...
Richard Burton is the brave Tribune who renews his pledge of loyalty to his emperor and to Rome; Jean Simmons is lovely as the exquisite maiden who stands firmly besides her love; Victor Mature is brave and spirited as the Greek slave; Michael Rennie is serious and profound in thoughts and manners as Simon the Galilean; Jay Robinson is terrific as the vicious, treacherous young Caligula drunk with power; Dean Jagger is full of devotion and reverence as the humble and honest Justus; Ernest Thesiger is efficient enough as the austere Tiberius; Betta St. John is so sweet as the disabled believer Miriam; and Torin Thatcher is too helpless as the proud Senator
It is notable that Jesus of Nazareth is seen from far away riding a white donkey with all the people around carrying palms and as a tortured figure, impossible to discern lying beneath the heavy cross... Henry Koster restraints with dignity the recreation of the execution carried out at Calvary, outside Jerusalem...
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