Nigel Balchin

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Barabbas Review


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Any good Christian or Jeopardy! fan knows that Barabbas was the murderer that the Romans chose to free rather than Jesus when Pontius Pilate asked them to pick someone to receive a pardon. The film (based on the novel of the same name) imagines -- with minimal attention to anything that is historically known -- what might have happened to Barabbas after he was freed, tracking him back into a life of crime, a decades-long sentence of hard labor, and a stint in the gladiator pit, all before he's eventually redeemed through the message of the man who hung on the cross instead of him. Barabbas, in keeping with the Biblical epics of its era, is overwrought and overlong, but Anthony Quinn is memorable in the leading role, even when the script is derivative of everything from Spartacus to Ben-Hur, films which were still fresh in the public's mind. Barabbas has aged poorly in comparison (though Spartacus isn't the masterpiece many wish it to be, either).
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