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Constantine and the Cross

3.1 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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(Jan 01, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Most of this exciting film centers around the political intrigue between Constantine and those in Rome who wish to usurp his power and prestige. However the most defining storyline is about the tens of thousands of Christian martyrs who gave their lives for religious freedom in the name of Jesus Christ.System Requirements:Running Time: 120 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA/HISTORICAL EPIC UPC: 879431000411 Manufacturer No: MAC41

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Tino Carraro, Christine Kaufmann, Belinda Lee, Massimo Serato, Fausto Tozzi
  • Directors: Lionello de Felice
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 1, 2008
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NJMJZC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,374 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on August 17, 2000
Format: DVD
The vast majority of this movie that centers on Constantine's personal life is pure fiction. However, that is not so bad; "Gladiator" re-wrote history, too, but was nonetheless a great movie. And this movie does not fabricate history just to fabricate, but rather it does so with the objective of tying Constantine and Christianity together.
One of the more notable scenes in which historical fact comes together with a fudging of Constantine's life is the arena scene. In this segment, Constantine jumps down into a pit where Christians are maliciously being slaughtered. Historically, the feeding-the-Christians-to-the-lions motif is right on. Under the emperor Galerius (ruled 305-311 A.D., shortly before Constantine ascended to the throne), Christian persecution was at its height. While it is untrue that Constantine slew lions to save Christians, the arena scene nevertheless serves as an excellent depiction of incidents which really happened.
The really notable quality of this movie lies in its portrayal of major historical happenings. As a previous reviewer noted, Diocletian and Maximian really did abdicate the throne in 308. It is also true that his mother, Helena, was a Christian (although the details re: his relationship w/her in the movie are fictional). He did marry Fausta (although he had her and his eldest son Crispus put to death for treason in 326 - long after the time period covered in this movie). The inclusion of Constantine's "divine vision" before his battle with Maxentius is essential; perhaps one of the defining moments in the entire history of Christianity. The actual battle itself is also given accurate treatment as Maxentius' cavalry was ambushed and trapped by Constantine's forces, just as the film claims.
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Format: DVD
I first saw "Constantine and the Cross" when I was maybe 8 years old, 34 years ago. The scene where Constantine sees the flaming cross in the sky became imbedded in my memory, and from then on I had a fascination with Roman history that led to my current career (I sell Roman coins and write historical novels for a living!). Ever since then, I've wanted to see the movie again, but to my immense frustration, it seemed to disappear completely from any TV playlists. I also could never find it on VHS videotape. Imagine my delight when a friend picked up a newly released DVD of "Constantine and the Cross" and loaned it to me! "Don't expect much," he told me. "It's pretty awful." Despite this warning, my hands were almost trembling as I slipped the disk into my new DVD player...
Well, how does it stack up 34 years after the first viewing? Suprisingly, not as badly as I would have thought. It's an Italian-American co-production starring Cornel Wilde as Constantine and a bunch of Italian sword-and-sandles stock players, made circa 1960 to cash in on the "Ben Hur" biblical epic craze. The budget was obviously pretty slim, and the cinematography, costumes and sets all have the standard Italian budget production look. Despite this, the script is suprisingly literate. I was amazed at the amount of real history the makers crammed in, resisting the temptation to "dumb down" one of the most complex and fascinating eras in history, the early 4th Century AD. At any one time, there were as many as six Emperors ruling different parts of the Empire, and the scriptwriters make a creditable stab at sorting through this confusion.
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Format: VHS Tape
I ran this film (which was called CONSTANTINE THE GREAT here in the UK)in May, 1963, when I was a cinema projectionist. At the time, Italian historical spectaculars were very much the in thing, just as spaghetti Westerns would be a few years later. At the time, I thought it was quite good and a more elaborate example of the genre and particularly liked Mario Nascimbene's score. Looked at today, however, over forty years later, I have to agree with the sentiments expressed by the above reviewer. Despite amazon.com saying the film is in black and white, it's actually in Eastmancolor and TotalScope, an Italian form of CinemaScope. Unfortunately, this video transfer is one of the worst I have ever seen of a Scope film and whoever at VCI Home Video is responsible for it should be sacked. The ratio is all wrong and the anamorphic film has been transferred to video semi-squeezed, so that all the characters look tall and thin. It hurts your eyes after a while. The 35mm copy it was transferred to video from is a badly worn original exhibition print and full of splices, especially at the beginning and end of each reel, with scratched in queu marks jumping about all over the place. Presentation is everything with a film like this. It badly needs remastering properly from a brand new print and the picture correctly stretched out to its intended ratio of 2.35:1, so that there is no more image distortion. Conversely, the sound quality is excellent.
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Format: DVD
Now joining the crowded field of budget DVD makers is Diamond Entertainment Corp. And like some of their ilk, the results are mixed. Which is better than most of their ilk, who are just plain lousy.
I first saw Constantine and The Cross three years ago on an EP recorded videotape released by DEC. Now with the DVD, I've noticed a few changes. First, the main titles and prologue were rife with print damage: tears, scratches, etc. It looks like they've gone back and cleaned it up by running still images of each title card over the original music. The prologue text following it looks video generated, evidenced by the black dropshadow that wasn't there in the original text. Otherwise, the DVD is about the same as the tape, with the faded color and print damage mentioned by the first reviewer. Also worth mentioning is how the movie(both DVD and VHS) is letterboxed at a ratio significantly less than the 2.35 to 1 ratio of its Totalscope process. 2 to 1 at best, and everyone is a little on the thin side, suggesting then that the anamorphic print was not fully "unsqueezed".
The technical issues aside, I must say that Constantine and The Cross is a good movie that separates itself from other Italian spectacles with an intelligent script and capable actors. The production values seem higher than most of that era, though it does suffers from lethargic and poorly staged battles like other peplum.
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