We’re approaching the Easter season, which means it’s time for Biblical epics to hit the new release shelf (whichever ones haven’t been put on DVD yet). This one puts its emphasis on spectacle and action.
Anthony Quinn plays Barabbas, the thief freed in Christ’s place. Though he initially goes back to his drunken, thieving, carousing ways, he is rattled by the events surround the crucifixion. He successively discovers his faith and loses it over the course of a tumultuou… life that sees him a slave in the sulphur mines and a gladiator in the Coliseum. The latter building is impressively realized (no CGI in 1961, remember). Don’t expect gladiator combat on the same visceral level as Gladiator, but the spectacle here is still pretty impressive.
The sound has been remixed into 4.0 surround. There are good rear sound effects, mostly involving crowds (many, many crowd scenes in this film). The music has a good, deep, warm timbre, sounding very good for a soundtrack over forty years old. There is considerable buzz on the voices, which is understandably hard to avoid given the film’s age. The sound will take some getting used to, since this is an Italian production, which means all sound was post-synched, producing the usual distancing effect of dubbing.
Watch the trailer, then check out the film, and see the difference remastering makes. The trailer is grainy, muddy and scratched. The film is in pristine condition: no grain, no damage. The blacks are perfect, but the colors are often very ‘off” from the intended tone and sharpness… and though the colours aren’t particularly vibrant, this does look like a characteristic of the original film.
There’s a trailer, and that’s it. The menu is equally basic.
Anthony Quinn. Jack Palance. Ernest Borgnine. The film would be fun to watch just to see these three doing their thing in ancient Rome.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer