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NEW Robe (DVD)
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This is prime-time Richard Burton, at age 27, heavenly to look at and even better to listen to; his crisp enunciation makes the English language shine, and though some of his scenes are a little "over the top", he carries them off with charismatic presence. Jean Simmons is exquisite as Diana, the woman who has loved Marcellus (Burton) since childhood, and their screen romance has a rare depth and spark.
Other notable performances come from Victor Mature as Demetrius the slave, with a mute but moving scene at Christ's crucifixion, and Michael Rennie is grand as Peter. Jay Robinson is wonderfully rotten as the vicious Caligula.
I always like a good fight sequence, and there is a brilliantly choreographed one between Marcellus and a centurion. It is the kind of swordplay great Shakespearean actors have perfected, and it is a delight to watch.
Directed by Henry Koster, it has an exceptional score by Alfred Newman, and vibrant Technicolor cinematography by Leon Shamroy. I like the way the night scenes have a deep blue glow to them, and the costumes are wonderful. Oscars went to Best Art Direction/Set Design (color) and Best Costume design (color). It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Cinematography (color), and was the first film to be released in CinemaScope.
I saw this film many years ago, and had thought it a little silly, but we have both aged well; I can now watch it repeatedly, and appreciate the depictions of courage, and the beauty and humanity of it. Total running time is 2 hours and 13 minutes.
The film (like the book) tells about the aftermath of the crucifixion of Jesus through the experiences of a Roman tribune named Marcellus Gallio, who commanded the unit in charge of the crucifixion. The man goes on a journey, following the path Jesus took and meets many people whose lives Jesus had affected. Through this journey, both the tribune and also his childhood sweetheart/fiancé are challenged to explore their faith and question various norms they have embraced all their life. I am thinking of reading the original book...I know that is a bit unorthodox but that's me. You know, not many people today know of authors like Lloyd C. Douglas.
The story starts out in the 18th year of our Emperor Tiberius (Ernest Thesiger.) Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) after snubbing Caligula is sent to an outpost from whom few have returned. There he is given the minor task of dispatching the King of the Jews in a cross manner. After the deed is done, Marcellus wins Jesus' robe and a dice game. Due to stormy weather, he places the robe upon his head. He has an instant negative reaction. Is this some strange form of sorcery? Or just plain guilt? Only time and the unfolding of the story shall tell. We shall take the journey together.
The movie based on a story by Lloyd C. Douglas, though not quite historically correct, is of choices and circumstances. The problems or their time is still the problems of our time so it is easy to relate.
"And by the gods you shall go. Both of you. Into your kingdom.", "They are going to meet their king" Caligula (Jay Robinson)
The Blu-ray DVD has a commentary by film composer David Newman (son of Alfred Newman) and film historians Jon Burlingame, July Kirgo and Nick Redman that is worth listening to.
The elaborate drama, directed by Henry Koster, stars Richard Burton as a Roman tribune in charge of the crucifixion of Jesus (voiced by Cameron Mitchell but never fully visible). Burton is later haunted by nightmares of the horrifying scene, and through the efforts of a slave named Demetrius (Victor Mature), who has claimed possession of the Messiah's garment, comes to embrace Christianity, much to the distress of the Roman authorities.
Burton earned his second Oscar nomination for his role here, but his overblown theatrics, though effective, are overshadowed by the subtler performance of the non-nominated but highly praised Mature who was generally dismissed in those days as more beefcake than thespian. The rest of the cast is memorable with Jean Simmons luminous as always, Michael Rennie as a saintly Peter, Richard Boone as a commanding Pontius Pilate, and Jay Robinson particularly good as an hysterical Caligula who sends Burton to the gallows when the soldier's belief in Christ conflicts with his commitment to Rome. And, yes, fellow film fans, that's the great Ernest Thesiger, Dr. Pretorious of "Bride of Frankenstein," as Tiberius.
The production is first rate and, for the faithful, the story and its conclusion is very moving. This is the kind of epic Hollywood would never consider making in these more secular times.
Most recent customer reviews
This movie is and always will be one of my favourites. Richard Burton is so convincing, and the love story just as compelling. The product arrived in very good condition. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
C'est un très bon film qu'on aura toujours envie de regarder.Published 4 months ago by Nadia Saint-Juste
THIS MOVIE IS GREAT AND THE ACTORS ARE OUTSTANDING. THE LOOK ON THEIR FACES ...YOU THINK THEY REALLY DID SEE CHRIST.Published 20 months ago by kjmac