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Masada

Overview

Wits and weapons clash in this 1981 epic chronicling a rebellion by Jewish Zealots against Roman rule. After Jerusalem falls to the Romans in 70 A.D., nearly a thousand Jewish rebels led by Eleazar ben Jair Peter Strauss withdraw to a mountaintop fortress 30 miles southeast of Jerusalem. There, fed by defiance and an unlimited supply of cistern water, they make their stand against Roman rule, now and then conducting surprise raids against Roman positions down below. Whenever the Romans retaliate, Eleazar goes ...
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Overview

Wits and weapons clash in this 1981 epic chronicling a rebellion by Jewish Zealots against Roman rule. After Jerusalem falls to the Romans in 70 A.D., nearly a thousand Jewish rebels led by Eleazar ben Jair Peter Strauss withdraw to a mountaintop fortress 30 miles southeast of Jerusalem. There, fed by defiance and an unlimited supply of cistern water, they make their stand against Roman rule, now and then conducting surprise raids against Roman positions down below. Whenever the Romans retaliate, Eleazar goes them one better. He and his men burn grain supplies, poison wells and generally make life miserable for the Roman 10th Legion, encamped in the baking desert surrounding the fortress. Frustrated, the Roman general Cornelius Flavius Silva Peter O'Toole brings in a brilliant siege master, Rubrius Gallus Anthony Quayle, to devise a way to breach the mountaintop stronghold. When Gallus begins construction of an earthen ramp up the mountainside, rebels rain down arrows on the Roman workers. Flavius then uses Jews from nearby villages to build the ramp. Meanwhile, Flavius makes several attempts to persuade the rebel Jews to surrender, promising they will live in peace and prosperity under Roman rule. But the Jews are adamant; they want only one thing: freedom, or, at the very least, limited freedom under a Roman-appointed Jewish governor. But after Roman Emperor Vespasian vetoes peace plans, the ramp continues to rise. When it is finished, the Romans pull a massive battering ram on wheels--another of Gallus's stratagems--up the ramp, and the stage is set for the final battle deciding the fate of the Jews. This film had at least three incarnations: as a 6-hour, 34-minute TV series in 1980, and then in trimmed-down versions in 1981 and 1984. Although the filmed-on-location Masada is based on history, parts of it are fictionalized.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
Brilliant writing, acting, and pacing combine with authentic atmosphere, thrilling battles scenes, and a superb musical score to make Masada one of the better historical epics about the ancient world. Peter O'Toole dominates the film as Cornelius Flavius Silva, a Roman general bent on subduing rebellious Jews after they seize and hold a mountaintop fortress. In portraying Silva, O'Toole fights not one battle, but many -- against the defiant Jews, against his own mutinous troops, against uncompromising Roman policymakers, against the unforgiving desert climate, and against his own inner demons. Peter Strauss capably plays the Jewish leader, Eleazar ben Jair, although at times he appears too smugly self-assured for a man surrounded by a legion of 5,000 soldiers. O'Toole and Strauss meet three times face to face during the film, negotiating terms and defending their beliefs and ideas. The dialogue is sharp-tongued, marked by anger, bravado, wit, and sometimes -- on O'Toole's part -- sensitivity and understanding. Unable to persuade Emperor Vespasian to accept Eleazar's terms, O'Toole and his siege master (played deftly by Anthony Quayle), construct a battering ram and a massive ramp to haul it up the mountainside. Aficionados of ancient warfare will enjoy the tactical defense maneuvers of the Jews and the final assault of the Romans against the mountaintop "masada" ("masada" is the Hebrew word for "fortress"). Throughout the film, Jerry Goldsmith's excellent music score accompanies the action, rising and falling at just the right places. Thanks to Boris Sagal's direction, the film moves nicely along, rarely dragging or devoting too much attention to any one scene. Fine supporting performances are provided by Barbara Carrera, Nigel Davenport, Denis Quilley, David Warner, and Alan Feinstein.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/11/2007
  • UPC: 741952648291
  • Original Release: 1980
  • Source: Koch Vision
  • Presentation: Full Frame
  • Time: 6:23:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 18,891

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Peter Strauss Eleazar ben Jair
Peter O'Toole Cornelius Flavius Silva
Anthony Quayle Rubrius Gallus
Barbara Carrera
David Warner Falco
Giulia Pagano
Denis Quilley
Technical Credits
Boris Sagal Director
John Bloom Editor
George Eckstein Executive Producer, Producer
Edwin F. England Editor
Jerry Goldsmith Score Composer
Richard Irving Producer
Robert L. Kimble Editor
Peter Kirby Editor
Paul Lohmann Cinematographer
Arnon Milchan Producer
Vittorio Nino Novarese Costumes/Costume Designer
Joel Oliansky Screenwriter
George Rennie Art Director
Kuli Sander Art Director
Jack Senter Production Designer
Morton Stevens Score Composer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Masada: Parts I&II
1. Jerusalem [10:06]
2. Hebron [13:34]
3. Zealots [15:55]
4. The Facts [9:09]
5. Bartering [11:07]
6. Rome [9:24]
7. The Senate [11:32]
8. In Caesar's Name [13:06]
1. Move on Masada [13:54]
2. Spectacle [10:33]
3. Reconnaissance Patrol [9:22]
4. Paving the Road Home [14:53]
5. In the Lord's Name [9:01]
6. A Vessel to Caprice [12:12]
7. The Glory of Rome [11:47]
8. Friends of the 10th Legion [13:05]
Disc #2 -- Masada: Parts III&IV
1. The Story So Far [3:02]
2. Recreation [17:25]
3. Bad Omen [8:14]
4. Trial and Deposition [13:40]
5. Politics [7:19]
6. Inspection [9:58]
7. Behind Schedule [14:23]
8. Salutions From Your Emperor [19:46]
1. Story Recap [3:14]
2. Face to Face [19:55]
3. Children of Israel [7:26]
4. The Tower [13:28]
5. Shifting Winds [14:44]
6. What Is Possible? [6:00]
7. The Sons of Light [15:10]
8. Out of Reach [15:28]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Masada: Parts I&II
   Play All
   Part I
   Part II
   Scene Selection
      Part I
      Part II
Disc #2 -- Masada: Parts III&IV
   Play All
   Part III
   Part IV
   Scene Selection
      Part III
      Part IV
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