Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 10/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Robe is most famous now for being the first movie filmed in CinemaScope. It was not the first film shot in a widescreen process. There were a few experiments with widescreen in the twenties and thirties, but The Robe was the film which started the boom in the production of widescreen epics. The Robe therefore has a definite and important place in cinema history, but this would mean little today if it were not also a fine film in its own right. In this respect it does not disappoint. The story tells of Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton), a Roman tribune sent to Palestine who oversees the crucifixion of Christ. He wins Christ's robe in a dice game, little realising the significance it will have for him. Burton is very good in this role and shows what a fine film actor he could be. Victor Mature is also entertaining as Demetrius, Burton's slave and later his friend. Best of all the film shows Jean Simmons at her best, playing Diana the woman Burton loves. My only complaint about her role is that she does not appear on screen enough. Biblical epics may not be terribly fashionable nowadays, but I've always enjoyed them and The Robe is one of the best of the genre. It describes the events surrounding the familiar Biblical stories using characters from the Bible and fictional characters to flesh out the narrative. In this way it rather resembles how Ben Hur interweaves the Biblical story with fictional events of Ben Hur's life. This technique works well in The Robe and makes for fine historical fiction with a religious theme. The print used for the Twentieth Century Fox DVD is in good condition. The CinemaScope images have been anamorphically enhanced and look stunning. The colours are bright and clear and there is hardly any visible damage. The sound likewise is good with no background noise. This DVD only has some trailers for extras, but anyone who enjoys Biblical epics will want to get The Robe."
"as for me, I have found another king"
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 04/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A marvelous epic melodrama, with portions that are emotionally stirring, and with two exceedingly attractive stars, this film ranks high in the "sword and sandals" genre.
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 1st ever Cinemascope Movie now on WideScreen DVD
forrie | Nashua, NH United States | 09/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1953 Hollywood answered the threat of television by announcing a new WideScreen format called Cinemascope. Up until now all movies were Standard 4:3 ratio format. Now, with 20th Century Fox's Cinemascope a 255:1 ratio (this is really spectacular to see on your WideScreen Home Theatre)and the "THE ROBE" people would marvel over this larger than life Technicolor film experience.With this 20th Century Fox DVD release we have GOOD news & BAD news; The GOOD news is this package provides an ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN presentation (this movie will adjust to any tv size uncluding HDTV 16:9). We also get 4.0 Surround Sound (great quality). The BAD news, the picture is NOT ENHANCED for WIDESCREEN TVs. (this makes for a grainy and dark presentation. The vibrant Technicolor is some what lost too.)The movie "THE ROBE" itself remains one of the screens greatest biblical epics. Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including "BEST PICTURE & BEST ACTOR (Richard Burton)".SUMMARY; A Roman Centurian (Burton) is charged with overseeing the crucifixion. He wins Christ's Robe in a gambling game at the foot of the cross & his life is changed forever. A grand supporting cast to include; Jean Simmons, Victor Mature & Michael Rennie. The movie is 135 minutes in length. Extra Feature: Trailer OnlyThis is the movie which introduced us to Cinemascope and Hollywood would never be the same."The Robe" is a great Hollywood movie epic that should be experienced by everyone at least once. Again my only reason for a 4 star rating is because of the graininess of the Home Theatre Wide Screen presentation. Enjoy."
The Robe -- RESTORED on Blu-ray!
R. L. Pulliam | Oakland, CA USA | 03/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was blown away watching "The Robe" on Blu-ray disc last night. I've never seen it like this. The richness in detail is exhilarating. The score sounds incredible, especially on Audio Channel 6 (isolated). It's long been one of my top 5 favorite scores and Fox Home Entertainment (FHE) served the film and the soundtrack very well with this massive restoration.
FHE spent the most money in this restoration on the soundtrack according to the man in charge of the project, Shawn Belston, VP of Library and Technical Services for FHE, in a chat he had with Ronald Epstein of Home Theater Forum this past Monday evening. They even removed the "wow", which is likely a costly process, but a process well worthwhile in such endeavors.
The entire score is isolated, and it has NEVER sounded better. I noted, however, that in the "Rescue of Demetrius" sequence as Marcellus and other men were preparing to burst in on the torture room, the mix wasn't what I am used to hearing and that some rather interesting string work is more sublimated. I won't be selling off my fantastic 2-CD soundtrack any time in the future, I can tell you, but there is more than enough totally exhilarating music in this isolated score to make folks VERY, VERY happy!
I noted for the first time in all my many viewings of the film that the photography is quite special -- master cinematographer Leon Shamroy did some incredible work during his career, but most folks know him as the man behind those special filters for "South Pacific". His work on many films, including "Cleopatra", is exquisite. Here, working with a brand new medium, you can see the extraordinary efforts Shamroy went to in order to "properly light" his shots, especially those where the only light sources were oil lamps or torches. When Marcellus bursts into the room in Cana where he learns Demetrius is staying, the light streaming in through the window -- the light by which Demetrius was reading -- is absolutely poetic.
"The Robe" is seldom, if ever, cited for the absolutely clever and innovative composition of images in shots through the film, but director Henry Koster FILLED his screen with highly dramatic placements of people. Some of the shots are staggeringly beautiful. The "Palm Sunday" sequence as Marcellus rides toward Jerusalem is stunning. As the procession passes Demetrius, there is this TRUE sense that Jesus is off camera and "behind us" as we look at Demetrius watching him pass. Add to that the wonderful scoring and it's an extraordinary cinematic moment. And this film is FILLED with extraordinary moments -- Marcellus' entry into the slave market, Diana's farewell to Marcellus at the docks in Ostia, the sequence where Demetrius seeks out Jesus in order to warn him of what the Romans are doing and his conversation with Judas (an unbilled Michael Ansara), the entire Crucifixion sequence (and it's extremely moving), Marcellus' madness, the arrival at Capri (stunning shot), the rescue of Demetrius, the chase and the final confrontation with Caligula in the palace are all extremely memorable and satisfying. I can think of NO CinemaScope film that used the process more dramatically or more satisfyingly (contrast it with MGM's "It's Always Fair Weather" where folks often seem lost in cavernous spaces).
Performances in this film are NOT -- repeat NOT -- under the radar, despite the common pap you read time and time again. Burton is wonderful as Marcellus, Jean Simmons is exquisite as Diana, and Victor Mature is a revelation as Demetrius. In fact, Mature probably turns in the best performance of his career in one of the better performances in this film. Not to be left out is Jay Robinson whose Caligula is one of the finest screen creations I've seen.
I have no idea what the Standard DVD of this film looks like, but I can tell you that in Blu-ray, it's heartbreakingly beautiful.
There are a slew of special features, in addition to the isolated score, but I have not yet indulged in those except for the special publicity materials.
I have to say that on the basis of the smiley-boxed "How the West Was Won" and this issue of "The Robe", my investment in Blu-ray has been MORE than worth it, both as a film lover and as a film score lover!"
2009 SPECIAL EDITON: THE ROBE
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 05/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this 2009 Special Edition re-release of "The Robe" we are presented the very best possible restoration of this classic 20th Century-Fox film which with the wonderful extra features make this a very special experience.
The film itself remains what it always has been, a rather wooden but still entertaining epic of the foundation of Christianity in the 1st Century A.D. The performances range from subtle and engaging as by Jean Simmons, to surprisingly effective as in the under-rated Victor Mature. The uneven performances move on to the theatrical and unschooled in film style of Richard Burton and finally lands with a huge splash and lots of color everywhere with the over the top Jay Robinson as Caligula.
But on with what is superb about this DVD release. And that is the Extras! And I don't mean the thousands of people on the roman sets. The commentary is delicious by film historians Jon Burlingame, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman (of Film Score Monthly) and film composer David Newman (son of The Robe's composer Alfred Newman). Mostly the talk about the magnificent music of the film, the history of the studios fabled music stage, the musicians. But also a lot is given over to the actors, director and the making of the film. I must say that Julie Kirgos observations on Victor Mature's performance gave me a new insight into his work. But for me the most wonderful extra was the music only option. You can view the film with only the score playing. With the dialog and sound effect missing your ears open up to the massive and splendiferous score by Alfred Newman. It is fascinating to listen to and to hear the voices at the end to the cues of the composer and orchestra members.
Also included is a short feature on the making of the film, which is fantastic. The Robe may not be the best picture in the Epic genre, but historically important for changing movies forever with the introduction of Cinemascope and Stereophonic sound. To round out the entire Special Edition, the film has been restored to its fabulous Technicolor splendor as is pointed out in a brief and interesting introduction by Martin Scorsese. "