Lloyd Douglas' book and this movie diverge in many ways, but the movie would have been a mini-series if it had been adapted in its entirety. The movie employs some shorthand but the way it was done is a masterpiece. The focus of both book and movie is redemption and forgiveness as faith, not religion or ritual, making it a rare mainstream Hollywood movie. Marcellus is a man who has gone mad with guilt and self-loathing that was already there before his supervision of the crucifixion. The servant Demetrius demonstrates how forgiveness and redemption transform and heal the twisted sickness of the soul and can free the slave from bondage of flesh and tyranny. Of course some effects (like the miniature of the Roman ship at sea) are cheezy compared to modern CGI, but give them a break - this was 50 years ago! Newman's score is gut-wrenching at times, a powerfully moving exposition all its own - it is also one of my top ten favorite film scores. I am surprised whenever a secular, Hollywood movie really "gets it" in its themes like this. The 135 minutes should not deter you from seeing this from opening to closing titles. See it and see it over again - this is a deeply moving spiritual Christian classic.
Now I know why I had never seen this old "classic"
December 23, 2010
Although hailed as one of the great biblical classic movies of the 50's and even with top level actors of the time, this movie falls short of expectations.
I was hoping to discover a missed classic but early on realized the directing or the script had turned this wonderful story into a lame movie. The story line about the roman officer who was in charge of Christ's cruxificion who later becomes a martyr for Him is a wonderful story, but oh my! ... what was Hollywood thinking when they edited this into this final cut? Cheezy and poor dialogue is all I can say. But maybe good for the classics shelf nevertheless if you are building up your library.
Excellent movie! Some of the older ones 'are' the better ones! While it isn't necessarily Biblical, it presents a very realistic possibility of what might have happened, and reminds us of the persecution Christians underwent after Christs' death.