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 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 9:53 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)


This foxes me. 'Barabbas' is a good movie, well written, it makes sense, and has beautiful cinematography. It MEANS something, the repeated descents and ascents by the 'everyman' Barabbas in his spiritual pilgrimage to understanding. And the art direction is beautiful. Maybe people haven't been there in this cocooned age.

Maybe the reason you can't care about the characters is that really this is one of those 'inner' movies where the characters are allegorical and 'within'.

Whilst 'Solomon and Sheba' (one man's fun is another man's vomit) is an out and out garbage movie in all respects. ALL respects. Nascimbene's score is the only redeeming factor.


William is spot-on. I saw BARABBAS when it first opened in London in 70mm and thought it a fascinating film. Far more thoughtful and entertaining than the tedious and routine SOLOMON AND SHEBA.

By the way, I'm still waiting for a reply to the question I asked 12 years ago today smile (I noticed the extreme directional dialogue when I saw the film but don't remember if the music was stereo.)
http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=7361&forumID=1&archive=1

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 1:21 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

Although in the same genre, these two "epics" have quite different approaches.

BARABBAS is more a thinking man's epic , concerned with the inner struggles of the main character, set against the backdrop of a tale of Christ and/or the conventional peplum.

SOLOMON AND SHEBA seems to have begun with higher intentions with Tyrone Power but the final film has no serious purpose except maybe to dazzle with spectacle --- I remember that is how the original ad campaign was -- all different variations on SEE this and that -- "See King Solomon's Harem of Beautiful Wives" - "See the Dance of the Wanton Queen" , etc. It certainly wasnt "tedious and routine" to most film goers back in 1960 - tacky perhaps but for those who enjoy this kind of splashy spectacle - "entertaining".

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 1:32 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)




Shouldn't fox you. To each his own. Re Barabbas. Anthony Quinn mumbles throughout the film. IMO a terrible performance. The editing is choppy to say the least. Dubbing is poor. Agree with Joe Caps that the DVD is terrible. I saw it under the very best conditions and didn't like it... Boring for an epic sized picture. Poorly received upon release. One of the shortest roadshow runs in NYC. As I said 'to each his own.'





Quinn mumbles because he's supposed to mumble. It's the character. Barabbas is a confused victim, everyone really, who has to make sense of great events he can't grasp. His life is a series of descents and ascents. His is the universal problem. He surrenders to the darkness and the light arrives, and finally the final light. Katabasis and renewal.

The editing is very much in keeping with European trends at the time, especially in Italian cinema, and in keeping with the aesthetic of the music for that matter.

On the other hand, S&Sheba is a bollocks of a nonsense, based on no actual biblical story, a potboiler. I've never been able to sit through it. The Queen of Sheba (unless you're a Coptic) did no more than visit Solomon on a diplomatic trade mission. That's all she did. She didn't wiggle ridiculously in a '50s bikini in a sideshow hoofer fertility dance. Nor did she have a religious encounter of the fakest kind after nookie with old Sol. And the thing with the shields and the crevasse is absurd.

Does it bother me that NYC didn't like Barabbas? Nnnnnoooooo.

You treat the subject matter with respect. If they want cheese porn, let them eat cheese porn. It's a free world.

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 1:36 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

BARABBAS is more a thinking man's epic , concerned with the inner struggles of the main character, set against the backdrop of the conventional peplum.




Yes, but even there, the 'coventional peplum' it really isn't. The design, the atmosphere, the lighting. The amphitheatre is a real Roman amphitheatre still extant, and the eclipse was a real eclipse, a grabbing of an opportunity.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 1:43 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

BARABBAS is more a thinking man's epic , concerned with the inner struggles of the main character, set against the backdrop of the conventional peplum.




Yes, but even there, the 'coventional peplum' it really isn't. The design, the atmosphere, the lighting. The amphitheatre is a real Roman amphitheatre still extant, and the eclipse was a real eclipse, a grabbing of an opportunity.


Yes , I agree - it raises it to another level - although some viewers might not recognize that.
I thought that the scenes in the amphitheater some of the best "gladiatorial " scenes ever filmed .

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 1:50 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

I thought that the scenes in the amphitheater some of the best "gladiatorial " scenes ever filmed .


They were indeed, and the Jack Pallance chariot duel was good enough for Scott to rip off the entire thing shamelessly for 'Gladiator', right down to the costumes!

Only the Roman soldiers had stylised (but very evocative) costumes: everything else was very authentic. The only other film that captures Rome to that uncanny degree is Fellini's 'Satyricon'.


The crucifixion of Barabbas in the final scene is poignant, and unlike previous treatments like 'Spartacus' etc. in that Barabbas is still unsure. He has to make the leap, but he still doesn't understand. All he can say is that he's been true to himself. It's real.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 1:57 PM   
 By:   paul rossen   (Member)




Shouldn't fox you. To each his own. Re Barabbas. Anthony Quinn mumbles throughout the film. IMO a terrible performance. The editing is choppy to say the least. Dubbing is poor. Agree with Joe Caps that the DVD is terrible. I saw it under the very best conditions and didn't like it... Boring for an epic sized picture. Poorly received upon release. One of the shortest roadshow runs in NYC. As I said 'to each his own.'







Does it bother me that NYC didn't like Barabbas? Nnnnnoooooo.



Don't believe NYC was the only place that Barabbas didn't do well. As I said to each his own.

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 2:00 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

What really is enigmatic is the need for an apologist Barabbas. The film is an interesting watch, but it's like Barabbas is on a long, long road to Damascus through which he is deaf and dumb. Surely, if the romans made a show of releasing him at the trial, they'd track him down immediately afterwards and put an end to the problem right there and then - quietly.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 2:01 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

I thought that the scenes in the amphitheater some of the best "gladiatorial " scenes ever filmed .


They were indeed, and the Jack Pallance chariot duel was good enough for Scott to rip off the entire thing shamelessly for 'Gladiator', right down to the costumes!

Only the Roman soldiers had stylised (but very evocative) costumes: everything else was very authentic. The only other film that captures Rome to that uncanny degree is Fellini's 'Satyricon'.


I subconsciously I realized that Scott ripped off more than just FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE in GLADIATOR -
I cannot remember if I connected the chariot duel to BARABBAS but you are quite
right ! - and he never acknowledged his debt to these films , as far as I know.
And it won five Oscars in the process - Amazing isnt it how young filmgoers either dont know this or dont care ?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 2:35 PM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

Others are right - for Barabbas, they shot a real eclipse. looks fantastic.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 2:41 PM   
 By:   paul rossen   (Member)




Shouldn't fox you. To each his own. Re Barabbas. Anthony Quinn mumbles throughout the film. IMO a terrible performance. The editing is choppy to say the least. Dubbing is poor. Agree with Joe Caps that the DVD is terrible. I saw it under the very best conditions and didn't like it... Boring for an epic sized picture. Poorly received upon release. One of the shortest roadshow runs in NYC. As I said 'to each his own.'





Quinn mumbles because he's supposed to mumble. It's the character. Barabbas is a confused victim, everyone really, who has to make sense of great events he can't grasp. His life is a series of descents and ascents. His is the universal problem. He surrenders to the darkness and the light arrives, and finally the final light. Katabasis and renewal.

The editing is very much in keeping with European trends at the time, especially in Italian cinema, and in keeping with the aesthetic of the music for that matter.




Does it bother me that NYC didn't like Barabbas? Nnnnnoooooo.

You treat the subject matter with respect. If they want cheese porn, let them eat cheese porn. It's a free world.


Glad to know that Quinn was supposed to mumble as he was a fine actor and to me this is one of the worst performances of his distinguished career. I thought that he was doing a Marlon Brando impersonation. Kidding aside it really doesn't matter if he is 'supposed' to mumble as it makes for poor drama. And that is the crux of the problem with Barabbas. The lack of a central character to care for.

It doesn't matter if Barabbas -being filmed in Italy by an American director for an Italian producer is following the editing by 'new' wave Italian directors of the early 60's. There are sequences that are choppy.

Barabbas had a LOT of things going for it. Huge budget in which the producer spared no expense. Real locations as well as built sets used for the Roman forum and the arena. An eclipse! Colorful cinematography -though you wouldn't know it from the DVD and a provocative score than was if my memory is correct quite stunning in 70 mm.

I really wanted to like Barabbas back when and viewings of the admittedly poor DVD only confirms what I saw in fall of 1962.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 3:01 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)




Shouldn't fox you. To each his own. Re Barabbas. Anthony Quinn mumbles throughout the film. IMO a terrible performance. The editing is choppy to say the least. Dubbing is poor. Agree with Joe Caps that the DVD is terrible. I saw it under the very best conditions and didn't like it... Boring for an epic sized picture. Poorly received upon release. One of the shortest roadshow runs in NYC. As I said 'to each his own.'





Quinn mumbles because he's supposed to mumble. It's the character. Barabbas is a confused victim, everyone really, who has to make sense of great events he can't grasp. His life is a series of descents and ascents. His is the universal problem. He surrenders to the darkness and the light arrives, and finally the final light. Katabasis and renewal.

The editing is very much in keeping with European trends at the time, especially in Italian cinema, and in keeping with the aesthetic of the music for that matter.




Does it bother me that NYC didn't like Barabbas? Nnnnnoooooo.

You treat the subject matter with respect. If they want cheese porn, let them eat cheese porn. It's a free world.


Glad to know that Quinn was supposed to mumble as he was a fine actor and to me this is one of the worst performances of his distinguished career. I thought that he was doing a Marlon Brando impersonation. Kidding aside it really doesn't matter if he is 'supposed' to mumble as it makes for poor drama. And that is the crux of the problem with Barabbas. The lack of a central character to care for.

It doesn't matter if Barabbas -being filmed in Italy by an American director for an Italian producer is following the editing by 'new' wave Italian directors of the early 60's. There are sequences that are choppy.

Barabbas had a LOT of things going for it. Huge budget in which the producer spared no expense. Real locations as well as built sets used for the Roman forum and the arena. An eclipse! Colorful cinematography -though you wouldn't know it from the DVD and a provocative score than was if my memory is correct quite stunning in 70 mm.

I really wanted to like Barabbas back when and viewings of the admittedly poor DVD only confirms what I saw in fall of 1962.


It always seemed to me that the continuity in Barabbas was choppy because it was originally intended to be a longer film - perhaps a 3 hour roadshow - and somewhere along the line , it was reduced to the current 137 minute cut.

It wouldn't be the first to be badly editted in post production.

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 3:04 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Kidding aside it really doesn't matter if he is 'supposed' to mumble as it makes for poor drama. And that is the crux of the problem with Barabbas. The lack of a central character to care for.


I care for the character of BARABBAS.

I also like to watch films that contain characters whom I may not personally care for or identify with.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 4:20 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

I certainly appreciate the fact that Barabbas was an attempt to treat the subject seriously, but oh dear, it was so slow, so dark, so dour. I don't need gladiators or dancing girls to keep me amused, I can follow a serious examination of spiritual confusion and groping toward the light, but this film just asked more of the audience than any audience has ever been prepared to give since the Lumierre Brothers. Of course it failed, and I can't believe the makers didn't know it would fail. The main character just seems to stagger around in spiritual and physical darkness for nearly 3 hours (3 in Oz, anyway). He appears, in fact, to be more animal than human most of the time; hence the mumbling and grunting. I can see the possibilities of sympathising with such a character, but not as written by Fry or played by Quinn; there's just nothing with which to identify. It's like they were saying to the audience, We know you expect another Ben-Hur or Spartacus, but we're Serious with a Capital S, so take this in your face.

As for S & S, it's a silly Saturday afternoon matinee with La Lolla whipping people from her chariot and slithering sensuously around idols. Brynner should have passed.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 4:32 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Wouldn't all of the 70mm blow-up prints of NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA have been magnetic-striped prints? Yet, most viewers of the 70mm version seem to have heard it in mono.....

ALL 70mm prints must be mag-striped. There is no optical sound on post-mid-50s 70mm release prints. And, these 70mm prints must be mag-striped on both edges of the print for equal thickness when they stack on the projection reel, whether there is anything recorded on more than one or not.


By 1971, when NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA was released, magnetic striping was much more expensive than before because it was rarer, and, additionally Fox-hole perf stock needed to be specially ordered (which was no longer much in use).

And so, "Why would 35mm magnetic prints have necessarily been in stereo?".....because it would have been cheaper to release in optical mono, and there is absolutely no reason to make a mono mag-striped print of this film with optical as the standard. The only reason to make a mag-striped 35mm print in this period is for it to carry a stereo soundtrack.

The supervisor writing the Columbia Pictures exchange memo obviously has made the statement, in print, because he wanted to make sure that the assembly cutters at the exchanges would not use the same counts to make cutting changes in a mag-stereo print of NICHOLAS where they would not work (because of the different sound offsets).

At this point, we cannot know how many mag-stereo 35mm prints of NICHOLAS were produced (probably very few), but we can perceive that there was concern about confusing the re-cutting requirements between the optical and mag 35mm prints.


Incidentally, I have in my "vault" a blowup 70mm reel of BORN FREE with magnetic tracks. Where were the 70mm prints of BORN FREE run, and did they have stereo or mono mixes?

 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2014 - 6:01 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

ALL 70mm prints must be mag-striped. There is no optical sound on post-mid-50s 70mm release prints. And, these 70mm prints must be mag-striped on both edges of the print for equal thickness when they stack on the projection reel, whether there is anything recorded on more than one or not.

That does seem wasteful, unless both sides are fully employed by the hardware. To think that such a time existed so as to justify the method! I presume if only one edge had been mag coated the resulting twisted slice of film going through the projector's gate would have caused the film to unhook the sprocket to the perforations more often than not and/or put more structural wear and tear on the film itself?

The digital age would have then been inconceivable, so celluloid would certainly have been expected to do the rounds for several years worth of re-runs in spite of chemical 'weathering' of the framed image.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2014 - 10:13 AM   
 By:   Ed Lachmann   (Member)

Seems a bit silly to go on about how "awful" these old epics are, how they were superfluous eye candy or historically inaccurate when you can enjoy contemporary soft rock warblers bellowing over the eruption of Vesuvius in POMPEII while the "Romans" prance about in Scottish kilts or behold Xerxes transformed into a West Hollywood leather bar pole dancer after an "evil spa treatment" in 300-RISE OF AN EMPIRE. Please, there is vomit and then there is VOMIT with a capital V. Compared to these, SOLOMON AND SHEBA is MACBETH. The sad thing is that this crap will be undoubtedly see several blu-ray releases while the older stuff may never be allowed to come out. I just hope that Zack Snyder's next film will either be a Solomon/Sheba or Barabbas story (with whatever outlandish "historically inaccurate" embellishments he might dream up). Then, and only then, can we hope to see BD releases of either of the old ones, which are obviously as dear to the hearts of some old farts like me as the dreadful STAR WARS films are to their generation.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2014 - 10:13 AM   
 By:   Ed Lachmann   (Member)

double post

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2014 - 3:44 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

Seems a bit silly to go on about how "awful" these old epics are, how they were superfluous eye candy or historically inaccurate when you can enjoy contemporary soft rock warblers bellowing over the eruption of Vesuvius in POMPEII while the "Romans" prance about in Scottish kilts or behold Xerxes transformed into a West Hollywood leather bar pole dancer after an "evil spa treatment" in 300-RISE OF AN EMPIRE. Please, there is vomit and then there is VOMIT with a capital V. Compared to these, SOLOMON AND SHEBA is MACBETH. The sad thing is that this crap will be undoubtedly see several blu-ray releases while the older stuff may never be allowed to come out. I just hope that Zack Snyder's next film will either be a Solomon/Sheba or Barabbas story (with whatever outlandish "historically inaccurate" embellishments he might dream up). Then, and only then, can we hope to see BD releases of either of the old ones, which are obviously as dear to the hearts of some old farts like me as the dreadful STAR WARS films are to their generation.

Ed, you are so right - 300 did result in the BR release of 300 SPARTANS - a minor epic which I dont even own on dvd.
If you arent of a certain age(or dont have a fondness for this genre), you are more likely to pick holes in them. I know, too, that some of you may be both and still not like both Nascimbene scored epics .

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2014 - 7:10 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

Seems a bit silly to go on about how "awful" these old epics are, how they were superfluous eye candy or historically inaccurate when you can enjoy contemporary soft rock warblers bellowing over the eruption of Vesuvius in POMPEII while the "Romans" prance about in Scottish kilts or behold Xerxes transformed into a West Hollywood leather bar pole dancer after an "evil spa treatment" in 300-RISE OF AN EMPIRE. Please, there is vomit and then there is VOMIT with a capital V. Compared to these, SOLOMON AND SHEBA is MACBETH.

I certainly agree that today's rubbish outrubbishes yesterday's rubbish. I mean, I only saw S & S once 53 years ago and I still remember certain scenes, whereas all I can remember of 300, which I saw only recently, is that the sun apparently never came out in ancient Sparta. It just seems a shame that with all the resources they had in the old days, such fabulous cinematographers, art directors, composers etc, that the scripts always came a distant last, almost an afterthought. It's no wonder William Wyler was so determined to get that part right before he exposed a frame on Ben-Hur.

 
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