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That Hollywood was falling under suspicion of Communist sympathies made a return to pious subject matter even more appealing.
Color and (later) widescreen and stereophonic sound also promised to be formidable weapons in the looming competition with the new medium of television.
In this legendary scene (derived from the second-century he screen story shifts the emphasis heavily toward the young lovers, ultimately portrayed by a mature Robert Taylor and Hollywood newcomer Deborah Kerr. ” proclaimed the lurid posters, “the most genuinely colossal film you are likely to see for the rest of your lives.” On this level, the film certainly delivers.
The Christian background, including some old-fashioned Bible-postcard-style flashbacks, is provided by Finlay Currie and Abraham Sofaer as the apostles Peter and Paul. It was the most expensive film ever made to that point, a historical recreation on a vastly larger scale than Paramount’s (1953), although the latter more often finds its place in the history books, thanks to its introduction of widescreen exhibition.
The opportunity to recreate a past age amid lavish visual pageantry was a natural for the cinema.
So, it must be admitted, was the opportunity to present (with guaranteed church approval) stories tinged with sex and violence.
There had even been a scheme to make the film in Mexico during World War II, but the project as we know it took shape after the war.
In 1951, the man whose name would come to be so inextricably associated with togas, swords, crosses and such, had never scored any film set more than 200 years in the past (not counting the Arabian Nights fantasy was to be made in Europe and the studio initially considered hiring a European composer. Sidney, however, wanted to hire Rózsa, and although the composer modestly advised that Walton would be better, he was soon assigned to the film.In an article published in the November–December 1951 issue of , he detailed his point of view and his sources, which included the few known surviving fragments of ancient Greek music (since Roman culture was based on Greek models and no Roman music from the period of has survived), plus Jewish melodies for the music of the early Christians.The scholar-composer obviously took great pride in being the first to care about making the music for a film set in ancient Rome match the era of the story, and although his imitation of period music was far from literal—and heavily filtered through his own musical sensibilities—it still provided the soundtrack a convincingly archaic sound remarkable for its time.The success (at least in Europe) of the Franco-Italian (1854), helped spark an international vogue for the quasi-biblical tale.Sienkiewicz’s story had been filmed at least three times previously, most notably in a spectacular 1913 Italian production, a full-length feature that preceded stretched back to the mid-1930s, when Robert Taylor was a rising young star.
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