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>
In the sword fight between Marcellus Gallio and the Roman commander, there is a shot of Gallio holding his sword to the commander's throat, while the commander is on the ground. The sword is an obvious prop that is rounded on the end like a spatula. See more »
In the two versions of the film, different takes of Richard Burton's off-screen narration are used. In the widescreen version, he delivers the last line of the narration (referring to Caligula) as "He probably will not be pleased to see me", and in the other, "standard" version, he delivers it as "He probably will not be pleased to see ME". See more »
There seems to be little interest in this movie today but when originally released in 1953, it created a sensation and threatened, for a while, to replace "Gone With the Wind" as the highest-grossing film in history. And it was the first movie in CinemaScope -- "The Modern Entertainment Miracle You See Without the Use of Glasses!" Its opening half still plays well, even some 50 years later, but the second half tries to convincingly present the religious conversion of Marcellus -- a tricky proposition since it deals with an internal process -- and the result plays like a well-intentioned but rather simplistic Sunday sermon. Richard Burton was Oscar-nominated for his work but is clearly outshone by, of all people, Victor Mature as the slave, Demetrius. The scene of a sweaty, nearly naked Demetrius groaning and writhing under torture in a Roman dungeon helped establish Mature as "the back that launched a thousand whips." (The book "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies" is dedicated to him.) Mature played Demetrius again in one of the rare big-budget sequels of the 1950s, "Demetrius and the Gladiators," which wasn't very good but which was livelier and more "fun" than its pious predecessor.
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