Well, let me just say this ain't no "Ben-Hur". Sure, it's an epic but just not the best example of the genre, in my opinion.

Even though the movie features plenty of battles and is set at far off locations, in a land of kings and knights, made with plenty of money behind it, it never really feels like a large scale epic. It once more makes me all the more glad Anthony Mann got fired from "Spartacus". I can definitely appreciate Mann's directing style and like what he did for the western genre for instance but I'm just not a big fan of his 'epic' movies. Those movies are often too drama orientated, which is not a bad thing in itself but it's the sort of extremely exaggerated and drawn out drama. It's like watching a Shakespeare play done as a soap opera!

But having said that, there also are still plenty of qualities to its story. There is plenty going on in it and characters keep changing sides and attitudes, which helps to keep the movie lively and surprising. Also its main character helps to keep things interesting and he's a person who has a great sense of honor and loyalty, making him a likable hero and protagonist for the movie. It's not necessarily a movie with just black and white themes in it. It more often lets its story operate in a gray area, despite the fact all of the villains still often come across as mustache twirling villains.

And first a Mexican and now a Spaniard? That Charlton Heston was one versatile actor! Seriously, Heston is great and convincing as a Spanish hero. He of course doesn't look or sounds all that Spanish but then again, so does nobody else in this movie really. The movie was still mostly shot in Spain though, which definitely gives this movie an unique sort of atmosphere, different from the usual epic movie, set in ancient Rome for instance.

It really is a great looking movie, despite not being ever all that grand. It's still impressive looking with its settings, costumes and makeup effects, that help to age the characters convincingly throughout the movie. I did wish the movie was shot a bit better at times though. I don't know but looking back at it, it seemed to be lacking some good wide shots. It would had at least made some of the battle sequences more epic to watch. The movie probably also could had used some more warmth in it. The colors are pretty bleak looking at times, making this not always the most pleasant or inviting movie to look at.

It's definitely true this movie mostly came alive for more in its final 45 minutes or so. I won't claim the was being bad or boring before that point but it wasn't exactly being the most interesting or involving movie either. But as it neared its end, it wrapped things up pretty needly and it started to become apparent what the movie was building up to all that time.

Oh and yes, the musical score by Miklós Rózsa was great. He was of course an expert at doing this type of movies and it's something truly epic and uplifting to listen to, throughout this movie. It also earned him his last (two) Oscar nominations, which is quite surprising, knowing he didn't die until 1995 and continued composing for movies till 1989.

Really, this all in all remains a perfectly watchable genre movie, it just isn't one that's remotely on par with better and also better known genre example such as for instance "Ben-Hur", "Spartacus", "Lawrence of Arabia" or "The Ten Commandments", so please don't expect a movie like that.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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