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Barabbas is a 1961 historical drama movie directed by Richard Fleischer, who brought to life an adaptation of the Nobel Prize-winning novel of the same name by Pär Lagerkvist. Set in Biblical times of the 1st century AD, the film tells the tale of Barabbas, an infamous thief and troublemaker whose destiny is forever altered due to an encounter with a certain Nazarene named Jesus. Through expert cinematography capturing the Roman empire's grandeur and squalor, the film transports audiences into a bygone time filled with turmoil and redemption.

The central protagonist, Barabbas, portrayed by the riveting Anthony Quinn, is an unforgettable character plagued by his innate restlessness and penchant for conflict. Barabbas is a difficult yet engrossing man as he grapples with questions of faith, fate, and his personal demons.

Viewers meet Barabbas in Jerusalem, condemned to die on the cross for his crimes. In a twist of fate, he is released because of a Roman custom of freeing one condemned man on the day of Passover. Still, the man chosen by the crowd in his stead is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, which ignites an internal conflict in Barabbas, sparking off the movie's central narrative.

The towering presence of Anthony Quinn as Barabbas steals the spotlight; he effortlessly brings forth the intensity, rawness, and emotional journey of a man who has known nothing but a life filled with crime. Quinn brilliantly depicts Barabbas's roller coaster journey from indifference to confusion and, later, intrigued curiosity about the teachings of Jesus.

Adding a dynamic layer to the story is the complex love interest played by Silvana Mangano. Playing two characters, Rachel and Sara, Mangano imbues the narrative with an emotional depth, highlighting both romance and tragedy, which complicates Barabbas's journey towards understanding his place in the rapidly changing world.

Arthur Kennedy, in the role of Pontius Pilate, is compelling in his depiction of a man torn between justice and preservation of political peace. His interactions with Barabbas are powerful and insightful, shedding light on the complexities of power and authority in an age of upheaval.

Visually, the film is grand and lends authenticity to its historic context. From the sprawling constructions capturing the grandeur of Rome to the bleak, stark landscapes of the desert mines where Barabbas finds himself toiling, every scene is carefully designed and meticulously crafted. Particularly striking are the gladiatorial scenes set in the vast Roman amphitheaters brimming with bloodthirsty spectators. These set-pieces are heart-thumping spectacles that not only entertain but also help sketch the raw savagery and inherent danger within the Roman society Barabbas inhabits.

The film treads the delicate balance of religious elements with the historical narrative. Its portrayal of Jesus's crucifixion and the awe-inspiring solar eclipse, which is believed to have happened when Jesus died on the cross, is handled with tact and sensitivity. The effect these pivotal moments in human history have on Barabbas gives the audience a unique perspective on familiar Biblical stories, thus enhancing the historical appeal of the movie.

Mario Nascimbene’s musical score underscores the narrative effectively, emphasizing the moments of emotional intensity, brooding contemplation, as well as fast-paced action. It plays an integral part in evoking the atmosphere of various scenes and moves in harmony with the plot's drastic shifts and turns.

This cinematic experience is an epically scaled human tale that brings forth a character from the sidelines of biblical narrative and plunges us into his tumultuous journey. This journey is far from linear; it is fraught with internal conflict, questions of faith, suffering, and ultimate redemption. Whether you see Barabbas as a man who received the ultimate gift of a second chance or a tragic figure haunted by guilt, the film does justice to all narrative complexities.

In all, Barabbas is a movie that brings historical and biblical narratives to life through compelling performances, memorable dialogues, impressive sets, and a touching exploration of the human experience. It provides an astonishing perspective on Biblical times and the trials and tribulations of the protagonist, making it a must-watch film, especially for fans of the historical epic genre.

Barabbas is a History, Drama, Adventure movie released in 1962. It has a runtime of 144 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.9..

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Where can I stream Barabbas movie online? Barabbas is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Crackle, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Barabbas for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Richard Fleischer
Anthony Quinn, Silvana Mangano, Katy Jurado, Arthur Kennedy, Harry Andrews, Ernest Borgnine, Vittorio Gassman, Jack Palance
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