Barabbas

1961 "The man of violence in whose place Christ died"
6.9| 2h17m| NR| en| More Info
Released: 23 December 1961 Released
Producted By: Columbia Pictures
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Revenue: 0
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Synopsis

Epic account of the thief Barabbas, who was spared crucifixion when Pilate manipulated the crowd into pardoning him, rather than Jesus. Struggling with his spirituality, Barabbas goes through many ordeals leading him to the gladiatorial arena, where he tries to win his freedom and confront his inner demons, ultimately becoming a follower of the man who was crucified in his place.

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Reviews

Spoonatects Am i the only one who thinks........Average?
Arianna Moses Let me be very fair here, this is not the best movie in my opinion. But, this movie is fun, it has purpose and is very enjoyable to watch.
Mandeep Tyson The acting in this movie is really good.
Justina The film never slows down or bores, plunging from one harrowing sequence to the next.
Horst in Translation (filmreviews@web.de) "Barabbas" is an American/Italian English-language movie directed by Academy Award winner Richard Fleischer, member of the famous Fleischer clan. The screenplay is by Christopher Fry, who adapted Pär Lagerkvist's novel for this movie here. The film is listed on IMDb as a prequel to John Huston's Oscar-nominated "The Bible: In the Beginning...", maybe because Fry wrote that one as well? I am not sure. Story-wise, it is not really a prequel. Anyway, the version of "Barabbas" I watched runs for 2 hours and 12 minutes, so it is a pretty long film, even if not as long as its sequel. In my opinion, the only real reason to watch "Barabbas" is Anthony Quinn, He played his role convincingly, but the story simply could not keep me interested for long, especially not for over 2 hours. Pretty disappointing.I would recommend this one only to great fans of historic and religiously themed movies, maybe also to fans of Quinn. Then again, I like him too, but was rather underwhelmed watching his film here. The rest of the cast includes fairly known names too from its era, people who had won and been nominated for many awards during their long careers, but this film is another example of how even the greatest cast cannot make an uninteresting script work really. I certainly hoped this would be better judging from its IMDb rating. But it really is not. Watch something else instead. Not recommended, unless you are a Quinn completionist. You also do not need to see this one here if you play on watching the sequel I mentioned earlier in my review. That one does not even include Quinn, so connections are almost non-existent, story-wise as well.
TheLittleSongbird Who cannot resist seeing a film with a cast like Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance, Ernest Borgnine and Harry Andrews? The cast and my general interest in biblical epic films were my reasons for seeing Barabbas. It's imperfect and could have been better, but there are also a lot of fantastic things. And when it comes to biblical epics, while not definitive or masterpiece status Barabbas is towards the better end of the spectrum.Barabbas is very grand in scale visually. The sets and costumes are very lavish, the use of amber-orange gives the film a very soothing look and there's some truly breath-taking cinematography. The music score is incredibly powerful and the very meaning of stirringly epic. Also in terms of how it's orchestrated and recorded it's quite innovative with its experimental sounds. The script has its foibles but is a vast majority of the time intelligent and thoughtful, Richard Fleischer directs with a fine sense of period and an understanding to using the action and set pieces to their fullest potential and the story has many compelling moments. Especially true to this are the crucifixion set against a real eclipse of the fun, easily the most striking image of the film, and the climax in the arena, which is the most dramatically compelling and entertaining Barabbas gets.Rachel's stoning(a heart-wrenching moment), the burning of Rome and the sulphur mines collapse are equally unforgettable scenes. The action is very exciting, so much so that it outweighs the film's dull stretches, and emotionally Barabbas is genuinely heartfelt and sincere. The cast is a uniformly talented one and all performances(despite the characters varying in how well-written they are) range from solid to great. Anthony Quinn portrays titular character Barabbas as a tortured, guilt-ridden soul and portrays this very movingly and with a great deal of intimacy. Not many actors succeed in bringing humanity to a criminal but Quinn manages to do that. Of the supporting cast, the standout is Jack Palance, whose performance as the snarling villain Torvald is an evil-incarnate powerhouse.The film is let down chiefly by its pacing however. Not all of the time, mind, but the first half in particular is very stodgily paced and not always very eventful before properly coming to life in the stoning scene. There are a lot of references to Jesus which were dealt with rather heavy-handedly at times, some speeches ramble on a little too much and lose flow. 137 minutes is actually reasonably short compared to other biblical epics, but because there are some very draggy and not so eventful parts Barabbas to me did feel a little overlong in places. Barabbas is hardly the first biblical/historical epic to have these problems though, and others have done them much worse this said, and I'm usually tolerant of slow pacing and long lengths dependent on the execution of everything else.And while a lot is done right in Barabbas, other areas are patchy. Also as gently sincere and pretty Silvana Mongano is, she has very little to do in a particularly clichéd and thinly sketched role in a film where only Barabbas has any proper development. To the film's credit, the idea of people being brought up and living life in tumultuous times is portrayed with much riveting realism, so while development is sketchy it is easy to get emotionally engaged and empathise with what the characters are going through.Overall, overlong, at times heavy-handed in the script and with its dull spots, but with the wonderful production values, powerful music score, emotional resonance, some visually striking and dramatically compelling scenes and strong acting Barabbas still manages to be a good film and one of the better biblical epics. 7/10 Bethany Cox
chaos-rampant In one of the first scenes Barabbas steps out of his dark prison cell to find the peculiar glinting figure of the man who's going to take his place on the cross and rubbing his eyes says he's not used to the light. So here we have both facets that make this interesting. It is, more so than Ben Hur and perhaps even Spartacus, less grand in the cinematic brushstroke but more troubled and honestly so about the spiritual picture it paints, more human.It starts with what we know as a spiritual narrative, Pilates' trial of Jesus, but approaches it in the historic light. It follows only the last legs of that narrative from the crucifixion on but does so through Barabbas' questioning eyes. We assume divinity because it's that story but the body could have been stolen, the eclipse natural; it all might just be a story about god.The spiritual question that looms is why doesn't god make himself plain? If this is a spiritual narrative as the newly devout insist throughout, why is it so hard to discern its truth?Barabbas finds it hard to believe so returns to his banditry which opens up a cycle of sinking deeper into a life of meaningless toil and punishment, seen most clearly in the sulphur mines where each subsequent year the slaves are lowered to a deeper level as their eyes become accustomed to the dark, again eyes tied to light. It isn't so just for him of course, Christians suffer next to him so what difference does it make, faith or god?There's a scene where a Christian lectures gladiators that their pagan gods are fictions that will be sure to amuse modern viewers. But this was the powerful reality of early Christianity, the only time it truly mattered. Christians could point to a specific time and place where god appeared as part of history, I can only imagine the invigorating urgency. It had all become clear, linear. They did joyfully expect to see his return within their lifetime.There is something powerful to be gleaned here; life isn't any better for the believers than Barabbas, the whole difference has nothing to do with the material facts, it's all about the light in which you choose to see. The tragic irony is that when Barabbas chooses to believe it is only out of guilt, a madness that is the fire he sets to things (this is during Nero's fire) that is his belief that the anticipated return would be fiery like this.So forget that it's a religious spectacle we watch during Lent and carries that form, this is more erudite than usual and deserves to be seen next to Stromboli about the difficulties of faith.
Leofwine_draca A Biblical epic that today seems forgotten amongst its bigger counterparts (BEN-HUR being the most obvious example), BARABBAS proves to be a rewarding visual experience. And it certainly deserves the 'epic' tag; sometimes it's slow, sometimes it drags out endlessly, but at other times it provides just the kind of spectacle you'd expect from one of these movies.The first half of the film, once the Christ stuff is done with, is a little slow. Anthony Quinn's titular character is a man difficult to like, and he doesn't seem to do much. Once he gets thrown into the sulphur mines, things change for the better and the film impresses with one massive sequence after another.Such highlights culminate in the gladiator scenes, which are on a scale to rival those of SPARTACUS or even GLADIATOR. There are moments in the arena, involving lions, elephants, and chariots, which are truly spectacular and incredibly impressive to this day. The presence of Jack Palance as a psychotic trainer is the icing on the cake. Things then move rapidly and inevitably to the moving climax.Director Richard Fleischer reaches a career peak early on by incorporating a real-life solar eclipse into the crucifixion scene to excellent effect. He also rounds up a busload of stalwarts (including Arthur Kennedy, Harry Andrews and Ernest Borgnine) to enhance the experience. While BARABBAS is a little too ponderous to be considered a true classic, fans of old-fashioned epics will find little to dislike.