Michel D. (michelann) from WALNUT GROVE, MO Reviewed on 5/11/2016...
One of the all-time classic films that is a must watch! Anthony Quinn at his very best heads an all star cast in a biblical classic everyone should view.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
William E. from ATKINSON, IL Reviewed on 1/18/2012...
I purchased this DVD the month it was released. It is a great gritty epic-like film. I enjoyed the depiction of a suffering Barrabas, uncertain why he was spared, etc. You could feel his pain and regret.
Unfortunately, (from a historical standpoint) it is a typical Hollywood film that contains very little truth. Other than the Bible there has never been any evidence that the Romans had a "tradition" of freeing a prisoner during Passover. The closest they came was to unchain them for the day. Even the great Jewish historian "Josephus" never mentions this "tradition" or writes about this event.
All in all, I highly recommend this movie if you like Anthony Quinn. He was a great actor.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
William W. (wdavidw) from TYLER, TX Reviewed on 9/22/2010...
A pretty good Biblical epic about the thief who was spared crucifixion instead of Christ. His life doesn't go well afterward, however, and falls into slavery, becoming a tormented soul. Nice cinematography, and through the story Barabbas finds faith to overcome the struggles in his life.
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Richard Fleischer's Barabbas
Charles Tatum | 06/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is not your father's uplifting wishy-washy Biblical epic. This is a violent, dark, and sometimes depressing story that is quite a change from many religious films.Based on a novel, this film imagines what happened to Barabbas after he was chosen over Jesus to be released before crucifixion. Anthony Quinn is a perfect choice as the unrepentant thief who goes back to the world he knows- crime and carousing. His favorite prostitute Rachel, however, has become a Christian and is later stoned for it. Barabbas is not just an observer, he sees Jesus go to the crucifixion, and later finds Rachel at the open grave. Barabbas goes back to his old gang of thieves, murders the new leaders, and they rob some Jewish clerics. Caught, he is sent to the sulfur mines for life, where he meets Christian Sahak, played by Vittorio Gassman. Sahak knows Barabbas' name and reputation, and attacks him. They eventually become friends, since they are shackled together in the pit. Barabbas survives in the mine for twenty years, refusing to die. He is tormented by the memory of his near death years before, and he sees the sacrifice Jesus made not just for him, but for all of us.Barabbas and Sahak survive a cave-in at the mine, and are taken to Rome as good luck charms by a newly appointed senator's wife. They are recruited to fight in the coliseum, ruled by a maniacal gladiator played by a very young Jack Palance. The duo also make contact with a Christian servant, Ernest Borgnine in a small but good role. Eventually, Sahak dies for his beliefs at the hands of Palance, and Barabbas has his bloody revenge on the field. Granted his freedom, Barabbas takes Sahak's body to a group of Christians, who reject Barabbas' half hearted attempts at Christianity. Barabbas misunderstands God's word and helps in the torching of Rome, eventually ending up a martyr himself.Just under two and a half hours, there are a few slow spots. The cast is excellent, however, and Fleischer does an impressive job with a cast of thousands. No CGI to rely on here, Fleischer uses his assorted set pieces to their fullest extent without trying to fix or better anything in editing. What is left are a series of scenes that can stand on their own as highlights in early 1960's film making, when the cinema was hotly competing with television to win viewers back. The stoning of Rachel, the sulfur mine collapse, the burning of Rome: all are unforgettable scenes.Two stretches of the film are very memorable. First, an extended sequence between Palance and Quinn fighting in the coliseum. There is no dialogue, just brutal violence and action. Another scene is the final tracking shot of dozens of crucified Christians, including the now ironic Barabbas. This shot sent chills down my spine.This film is very dark and very different. Barabbas is a man torn between his heathen upbringing, and what he knows is right through what he has witnessed in Jerusalem and Rome, no matter how much he denies what he has seen.Produced by Dino DeLaurentiis in Italy, this film has a European feel that makes it different and lends a certain credibility to the proceedings. The Oscar heavy cast does not fall victim to any preachy speeches or effects laden miracles, these are seemingly ordinary people caught up in tumultuous times. I highly recommend "Barabbas" to any film fan, especially those who think "Gladiator" is the only decent sword and sandals epic out there.Although not rated, this does contain strong physical violence, some sexual violence, gore, and some adult situations."
One Great Film
Fred T. Lopez | 03/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've often wished for a widescreen edition of Barabbas and now here it is. I became excited several months ago when I saw this edition was to be relased on DVD. So here I am on March 5th ordering my copy. I own the VHS version which distracts from the excellent photogarphy. There are some important things to know about the production of this film: the crucifixion sequece was filmed during an actual eclipse, a one shot scene. The sets were constructed three dimnesional so the streets of Jerusalem and Rome appear real. Anthony Quinn was a perfect choice for Barabbas. If you've read the book this film will provide a quality visual to the fine, simple telling of a man's life, the man who was spared crucifixion and free'd instead of our Lord. Also if you've read the book you'll know what Barabbas is thinking most of the time. Quinn is excellent, his eyes ever roaming in thought of survival. This is a big movie shot in a down to earth realistic way. A fine study in seeking truth, arriving on it's doorstep only to turn away. Because of the book, when Baabbas is helping set fire to Rome, I am aware of how truly emotional this last scene in the film is. (I hope am not giving anything way in the film). Barabbas finally makes an open commitment, acting out on a belief system that he's denied since Christ's crucifixion, only to discover in the end it was Nero who set fire to Rome and not the Christians. It's really all there. The muscal score is unsual and unique. I have the old mono 33 1/2 rpm version which gives musical examples at the end of how Mario Nascimbene wrote and orchastrated the incedibe score. Sadly enough this old recording is far supeior to the new CD issue which edited cuts and left out the 5 minute + prologue. I rate this movie 5 stars. If you like the old spectaculars this one is unique and should be in your library."
Fine character study....
Bradley Melloy | Indianapolis, IN United States | 08/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fine character study and classic portrayal by Anthony Quinn from the Pulitzer Prize winning novellete. What sets this one apart from the other Biblical films of the 50's and early 60's is its lack of "epic" proportions; that is, there are not the usual 50 familiar faces playing a variety of supporting roles. You've got Quinn as the principle, Arthur Kennedy as Pilate (brief), Ernie Borginine (brief), Jack Palance in another evil turn, and filled out by mostly fine Italian character actors. As a Christian, I'm always amazed at how this film reaches me on a spiritual level with each viewing; The soundtrack is innovative and quite extraordinary. A definite thumbs up."
Grim but interesting
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 03/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One always wonders what might have happened to both Barabbas and Pontius Pilate, and this is a fanciful tale about the fate of the man who was chosen to live, based on the novel by Par Lagerkvist (winner of a Nobel prize for Literature in 1951). The scourging and crucifixion are shown, but mostly, Jesus is seen through His followers, and the faith that endures in them throughout the film. A solar eclipse apparently happened during the filming, and it is the backdrop for the darkened sky at the crucifixion, used to great effect.
Anthony Quinn is perfect as Barabbas, and heads a fine international cast, with Silvana Mangano as his former girlfriend who has become a follower of Jesus, Arthur Kennedy as Pontius Pilate, Harry Andrews as Peter, Valentina Cortese as the wife of a high-ranking Roman, Ernest Borgnine as a Christian in Rome, and Katy Jurado (at the time Mrs. Borgnine) as one of the raunchy women in Barabbas' Jerusalem gang. Two of the best performances come from Jack Palance as a sadistic gladiator, and especially, Vittorio Gassman as a young Christian who shares the latter part of Barabbas' life. Richard Fleischer keeps the pacing so that the dark nature of the story doesn't get too gloomy, and the film is also helped by Mario Nascimbene's score, and Aldo Tonti's Technicolor cinematography.
The script has some inspirational touches, and the scenes I found fascinating were the ones in the "school of gladiators", where the physical feats are astounding, and the arena itself, especially at the conclusion when Jack Palance makes his entrance in a chariot. Interesting as both an historical supposition, and an interpretation of that era of Roman rule, as well as for its excellent acting, this is probably the grimmest of the big sword and sandal religious epics of its era, but well worth watching. The DVD extra is the theatrical trailer, and total running time is 137 minutes. "
Widescreen Barabbas finally
Francisco Palafox | Mexico, D.F. Mexico | 07/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After years of waiting, finally there is a widescreen version of this great movie (which is the ony way to see these widescreen epics and the only way to do them justice). So much for the good news. Unfortunately, Barabbas hasn't been granted the same deluxe treatment of other equally deserving epics of the 50's and 60's. I mean going to huge epic movies back then was quite an experience not unlike going to the Opera and you got treated to an introductory musical Overture, an Intermission with Entre'act music and sometimes even Exit music. In line with this treatment for other epics (now restored on Laser Disc/DVD versions), Barabbas was no exception. It originally included a Bolero-like overture of Mario Nascimbene's main theme, an Intermission at the end of the Mines sequence (you can see the abrupt cut into the next scene at the fields where the intermission has been deleted from the all versions of the movie currently available), and an Intermezzo (on the theme for the arrival to Rome)previous to the continuation of the second part of the movie. Until Mario Nascimbene's innovative score is restored, we should still wait for a definitive restored version of Barabbas. The Circus scenes are probably the best ever filmed, and are up there with similar sequences of Ben-Hur and Gladiator. (Spartacus is a great movie but does not include Circus action). I hope some day we get the Deluxe verson of this great epic."