Columbia, 1962. Directed by
Richard Fleischer. Camera: Aldo Tonti. With Anthony Quinn,
Silvana Mangano, Arthur Kennedy, Katy Jurado, Harry Andrews, Vittorio
Jack Palance, Ernest Borgnine, Valentina Cortese, Arnoldo Foà,
Norman Wooland, Enrico Glori, Carlo Giustini, Rina Braido, Douglas Fowley,
Laurence Payne, Michael Gwynn, Gustavo De Nardo, Tullio Tomadoni, Maria
Zanoli, Friedrich Ledebur, Guido Celano, Spartaco Nale, Gianni Di Benedetto,
Vladimiro Picciafuochi, Bobby Hall, Joe Robinson, Ivan Triesault, Roy
Mangano, Nando Angelini, Marcello Di Martire.
Each year at Passover, the people of
Jerusalem are permitted to grant freedom to one of two condemned
prisoners. In this process Barabbas, an assassin and thief, is
pardoned by popular acclaim while Jesus is sent to be crucified.
Upon his release, Barabbas discovers that his beloved, Rachel, has
become a follower of Christ, and she tells him of the Resurrection.
Unable to comprehend her faith in Christ as the Messiah, Barabbas
meets with Saint Peter and Christ's disciples and hears Lazarus'
story, but he remains unconvinced and returns to his old way of life
after Rachel is stoned to death as a heretic.
Inevitably, he is again taken prisoner,
and this time he is sentenced to a lifetime of slave labor in the
sulphur mines of Sicily. In the years that follow he is
chained to a Christian, Sahak, who wins his admiration, but Barabbas
still refuses to admit the existence of a God. Barabbas and
Sahak emerge the sole survivors when the mine collapses, and they
are eventually taken to Rome, where they are trained as gladiators.
Because of his faith, Sahak refuses to kill, and he is put to death.
Barabbas vanquishes Torvald, the sadistic captain of the gladiators,
in the circus arena. As a reward for his courage, he is
granted his freedom by the emperor.
After giving Sahak a Christian burial in
the catacombs, Barabbas discovers that Rome is on fire.
Believing the Roman charge that the Christians are responsible for
the deed, Barabbas decides to help those whom he has denied, and he
adds a torch to the flames. He is captured and sentenced to be
crucified along with many Christians.
The film is based on the novel Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist
(Stockholm, 1950). It opened in Rom in December 1961 as
American Film Institute