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Giovanni Di Benedetto
This seems to be one of the least-known peplum films, at least in the US. I was happy to find an Italian DVD, cropped to 1.78:1 aspect ratio instead of original 2.35:1, but with brilliant color and Italian subtitles. Even with my very limited Italian, the plot was easy to follow, and not just because peplum films follow simple formulas; this movie really knows how to tell a story through purely visual means. Dialogue is secondary to the action and emotion, which are compelling in every scene
The opening scene is brilliant, as the last survivors of the Spartacus slave revolt overcome Roman guards by night and remove their crucified leader from a cross, hoping to rescue him and continue the resistance. When a Roman soldier (Browne) arrives back in Italy from service in Spain to find his family slaughtered by soldiers looking for a fugitive ringleader—in a scene very reminiscent of Russell Crowe's homecoming in GLADIATOR (I'm beginning to think Ridley Scott watched every peplum film ever made before he started work on his own)—the plot is off and running.
The giddy mix of over-the-top action and wrenching melodrama in this movie is pure Italian 1960s film-making, dreamlike and larger than life, with amazing close-ups of Gordon Mitchell (leader of the resistance) and the breathtaking Scilla Gabel. Special kudos to a stirring music score by Francesco de Masi.
If you love peplum movies, this one is worth seeking out.
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