How incredibly appropriate if not downright eerie that the sun should turn on a full eclipse during the filming of BARABBAS that was captured by the Technirama 70 cameras for the crucifixion scene.
Arguably the "forgotten epic" when talk of the 60's blockbusters brings inevitably mention of BEN HUR, KING OF KINGS, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, SPARTACUS, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, GENGHIS KHAN, CLEOPATRA, SODOM AND GOMORRAH, etc. Many see in this film an individual depth and emotion, lacking in other such works. Quinn in fact brings (despite the poetic license taken with historical confirmation) to Barabbas, a portrayal of a man tortured by his past, his reason to still be alive and his destiny. From the claustrophobic escape from the sulphur mines to his gladiatorial deeds in the arena, Barrabas is a driven man of open-ended religious conviction. He embraces Christianity but does he understand it? He saw Christ die in his place and lived his life to find out why!
Palance whose face has been his career, was the ONLY choice as Torvald the head gladiator who lives only to kill! It was one of his best ever roles.
I saw this film in London at its premiere in 1962. It received luke-warm critical reception at the time but had a successful run in the West End of some six months or so. Has had far less screening on television and cable than other epics of its ilk which is a pity as it had a lot to offer the discriminating viewer.