Flavius Silva, commander in Roman Judea, wants to reach a reasonable compromise with the Jewish Zealots and withdraw his legion. Events and personalities in Rome, however, lead to his besieging the fortress of Masada. There the engineering genius of the Romans must fight both the harsh climate and landscape, and the passion and ingenuity of Eleazar Ben Yair and his people.Written by
During the lengthy location filming, Peter O'Toole was the only cast member who didn't fall ill. This was due to the fact that these were similar locations to Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and he knew how punishing and gruelling the region could be. See more »
During the scene in which the Jews are ascending the trail up to the summit of Masada, a vehicle the size of a bus can clearly be seen travelling on a road in the background See more »
One man's freedom fighter is another's fanatic... but which is which...?
I remember watching this mini-series on the BBC and throughly enjoying every minute (I was 14!). It marries historical fact, legend and drama creating a cracking action adventure that sees nine hundred Jewish people take refuge in the eponymous and impregnable mountain fortress, fleeing the brutal regime of the Vespasianic legions under the command of Peter O'Toole's ("Silva"). The other principal casting maybe isn't the best - Peter Strauss didn't work for me at all and the seriously wooden Barbara Carrera also stretches the imagination just a tad, but the pace of the story builds well as the besieging Romans face all the desert environment and the Jewish freedom fighters can throw at them. There is an inevitability about it - the engineering prowess of the army soon starts to sound a death knell for the brave souls gathered above, and there are some strikingly brutal examples of just how ruthless the occupying forces could be - a whole new set of uses for catapults, for example. A solid cast including Sir Anthony Quayle, David Warner and Dennis Quilley give the proceedings extra gravitas and O'Toole manages to resist any temptation to ham it up delivering a strong, considered, performance as the reasonably minded general/governor who has long since tired of fighting never ending wars. It takes 6½ hours, give or take recaps etc., which might explain why it is rarely seen nowadays, but it is a taut and compelling grand scale historical epic that is well worth sticking through (and visiting should you ever get the opportunity).
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