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Barabbas Review

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Anthony Quinn plays the eponymous hoodlum-turned Christian whose life is spared when Jesus takes his place on the cross. We follow his soul-making journey through silver mines, gladiator battles, persecution and painful wooden sandals.

★★★★★

A not-bad “biblical” epic spectacular with Anthony Quinn as the criminal reprieved in Jesus’s stead giving it all he’s got in turn as slave, gladiator and guerrilla fighter against the Romans before his conversion to Christianity. After the mid-century spate of egotistical bible translations onto celluloid, this is a much more low-key (despite the enormous list of extras and the sizeable running time) attempt at a character study, taking as it's starting point the moment when the thief Barabbas was spared his crucifixion in favour of Jesus. Silvana Mangano and Jack Palance are among the able and muscular cast. Oh, and the eclipse of the sun that opens the film is a genuine one – Flesicher delayed filming just to capture it.

Brave not in it's epic scale, which is now mandatory for this kind of thing, but in it's attempts to recreate a life tangential to Jesus'.