Some Obscure Martyr in Some Forgotten Province, Then Madness

Posted: 28/09/2013 in 1953

the robe

Henry Koster’s sweeping Biblical/historical drama The Robe is not the first brush with religious themes that we’ve seen this year, but it certainly is the best produced.  Despite it’s shortcomings, The Robe is cinematic eye candy.  From the costumes, to the production design, to the cinematography, this film is visually one of the most beautiful color films we’ve seen all year.

The film is set in first century Rome during a time of rebellion in the province of Judea.  Enter, of course, Jesus (who we never actually do see) and you have a set of characters that are thrust into the winds of change and history.  Richard Burton plays the lead role of Marcellus Gallio, who is given the job of carrying out the execution of Jesus.  In short, his guilt leads to his conversion, as well as a confrontation with the Roman Empire.  Despite having a potentially juicy role, and despite the praise that has been bestowed upon Richard Burton for this role, I don’t really feel he does anything incredibly spectacular here.  It’s an adequate performance, but there have been more interesting performances this year that I feel will overshadow this one.  The same goes for Jean Simmons as Diana.  In reality, the really standout performance in this film is Jay Robinson as a really mentally unstable Caligula.  Every scene he is in is deliciously uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, the supporting actor race is so packed this year, I don’t know if there will be a place for Mr. Robinson when the year is all said and done.

In short, The Robe is generally well-executed, it’s engaging for the most part, but there are so many more exciting offerings this year that I’m not sure if it will really stick out in my mind come year’s end.

*** ~AOS

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