Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Movie Review: The Robe

The Robe

Recommended for: 8 to Adult

Rating: NR

The first movie ever filmed in CinemaScope, THE ROBE ws nominated for five Academy Awards in 1953, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Richard Burton. Burton stars as Marcellus Galilo, the Roman centurian charged with overseeing the crucifixion. But when he wins Christ's robe in a gambling game at the foot of the cross, his life is forever changed. 
We first watched The Robe awhile back on a recommendation from friends, but last Friday watched it again because my sister is reading the book and wanted to re-watch the movie before it went off of Netflix. According to her, the book is way better, but The Robe is still a very good movie, and highly appropriate for this time of year. What might have happened to the Roman who won Jesus' robe at the crucifixion? How might the whole experience have affected him? That is what this movie and the book upon which it is based are about.

Technical: 4/5

Truly, technically speaking, this movie is about what can be expected from a 50s movie. There are instances where it is obvious they are acting in front of a backdrop, the "dark" scenes were clearly not actually filmed at night, and the acting was often stiffly overacted. However, for the time, it was a very well made movie, the first filmed in CinemaScope. The story is what makes it good.

Setting: 4.5/5

I'm not sure that every single element of the story was historically accurate, but it seemed pretty close. The things involving Palm Sunday and Jesus' crucifixion certainly seemed accurate. Rome and Israel were well portrayed, even on a 50s movie budget.

Plot: 5/5

Now, my sister would probably complain about the movie's plot. She said they constantly mixed up events and cut things out. Apparently in the book Marcellus's conversion was heavily influenced by witnessing Stephen's martyrdom, an event which was entirely omitted in the movie. Marcellus is required to crucify Jesus, but when he wins Jesus' robe, it practically destroys him. He seeks out the robe, thinking destroying it will cure him of his madness, but along the way truly discovers Christianity. It is a powerful story with an amazing but difficult ending, though from what my sister says it appears the book is even more powerful.

Character Development: 4/5

The characters are decently developed, though the movie, being like many old movies, doesn't go too deep into them. Marcellus has a wonderful character arc, as he comes to believe in Jesus and learns to stand for what he believes in. Demetrius is strong of character and devoted to God. Diana is sweet and willing to believe, but uncertain, and one of the best actors in the movie. Again, my sister makes it sound like the character development in the book is better, but when is the book not better?

The Robe is an excellent story well worth watching, perfect for the days leading up to Easter, and puts the book on my (rather extensive) to-read list.

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