In times of great upheaval during Passover in early-first-century Jerusalem, the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, finds himself before a pressing dilemma. As part of a tradition, the indecisive ruler offers the agitated crowd the choice to have either Jesus of Nazareth or the murderer, Barabbas, released from Roman custody; but, instead, the people demand the release of the thief. Now, as Jesus takes Barabbas' place on the cross, an inhumane act of punishment paves the way for an arduous spiritual journey of faith, leading Barabbas to Sicily's dark sulphur mines, and the blood-soaked soil of Emperor Nero's Coliseum. Will Jesus' sacrifice set Barabbas, the slave, free?Written by
When Barabbas is sent to the sulfur mines, a guard chains him to another prisoner by hammering closed an iron link shaped like a 'C' with both ends of the 'C' glowing red-hot. The same technique is shown at least one other time. However, it's not the ends of the 'C'-shape that should be glowing red-hot in order to hammer the link closed, it is the middle, where it needs to bend. Cold iron is brittle and needs to be heated to bend or it will fracture. See more »
Gladiator Barabbas, you're becoming quite a legend among us, I hear. For your remarkable persistence in life, we have a traditional answer to this public acclaim. We make you a free man. We give you your liberty. Here is the symbol of your freedom!
[holds up a carved staff for everybody to see, then tosses it into the arena next to Barabbas' feet; he picks it up and slowly exitst the Coliseum]
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How incredibly appropriate if not downright eerie that the sun should turn on a full eclipse during the filming of BARABBAS that was captured by the Technirama 70 cameras for the crucifixion scene.
Arguably the "forgotten epic" when talk of the 60's blockbusters brings inevitably mention of BEN HUR, KING OF KINGS, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, SPARTACUS, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, GENGHIS KHAN, CLEOPATRA, SODOM AND GOMORRAH, etc. Many see in this film an individual depth and emotion, lacking in other such works. Quinn in fact brings (despite the poetic license taken with historical confirmation) to Barabbas, a portrayal of a man tortured by his past, his reason to still be alive and his destiny. From the claustrophobic escape from the sulphur mines to his gladiatorial deeds in the arena, Barrabas is a driven man of open-ended religious conviction. He embraces Christianity but does he understand it? He saw Christ die in his place and lived his life to find out why!
Palance whose face has been his career, was the ONLY choice as Torvald the head gladiator who lives only to kill! It was one of his best ever roles.
I saw this film in London at its premiere in 1962. It received luke-warm critical reception at the time but had a successful run in the West End of some six months or so. Has had far less screening on television and cable than other epics of its ilk which is a pity as it had a lot to offer the discriminating viewer.
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