A Classic Biblical Epic
Release Date: September 16, 1953
Starring: Richard Burton, Jean Simmons,
Victor Mature, Michael Rennie,
Jay Robinson, Dean Jagger, and
Genre: Historical Epic
Audience: All Ages
Runtime: 135 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox/News Corp.
Director: Henry Koster
Executive Producer: ic Biblical Epic **
Producer: Frank Ross
Writer: Albert Maltz, Philip Dunne and
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch, Chairman/CEO, News Corp.
Chase Carey, President/COO, News Corp.
Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen/CEO
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
(Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic)
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Phone: (310) 369-1000
The movie opens with a slave auction in Rome where Marcellus (Richard Burton) angers Caligula (Jay Robinson), the heir to Emperor Tiberius. For outbidding Caligula on the Greek slave, Demetrius (Victor Mature), Marcellus is separated from his true love Diana (Jean Simmons) and sent to the most unpopular outpost in the empire, Jerusalem. Marcellus arrives just as Jesus enters Jerusalem for the Last Supper. Diana manages to get Tiberius to recall Marcellus, but for his final task in Jerusalem his duty is to lead the crucifixion of Jesus.
While carrying out his assignment, Marcellus winds up winning the robe that was taken from Jesus when he was put on the cross. The spectacular storm that arises captures Marcellus attention, and he ends up facing Jesus when Jesus cried out to the Father, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Leaving Golgatha, with the storm still raging, Marcellus demands the robe from Demetrius. Demetrius, who has become a Christian, hesitates to give Marcellus the robe. Upon grabbing it, Marcellus is overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and becomes mentally unstable.
On reaching Diana and Tiberius in Capri, the cure for his madness is declared to be an imperial commission to find the robe and destroy it along with all the Christians he can find. He returns to Galilee and finds a town with Christians who treat him well. They explain to Marcellus about Jesus Christ’s resurrection and that the crucifixion was all part of God’s plan.
Marcellus meets Peter, becomes a Christian and travels with Peter and Demetrius on a missionary journey through the Mediterranean provinces of Rome. They wind up in Rome itself where Caligula has become emperor.
THE ROBE has some inspiring moments, such as when Peter tells Marcellus about having denied Jesus three times the night before the crucifixion. Marcellus winds up having to explain his “treason” to Caligula. His talk about Jesus Christ’s kingdom being “not of the world” is wonderful and is complete with a comparison of the pagan and Christian worldviews. Those anxious to make America a Pagan nation should see this movie.
There is a small diversion where Marcellus tries to be a swashbuckling hero like Errol Flynn and goes to rescue Demetrius from a Roman torture chamber, but the heart of the movie is profoundly Christian. The movie did better at the box office than any other released in 1953, with the exception of PETER PAN, which has kept making money because Disney re-released it for several generations of children.
This powerful story is similar to that of Paul who at first sought to persecute Christians but then became one. THE ROBE has many inspiring moments. It is a wonderful testament to the power of Christian faith.