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Masada - The Complete Epic Mini-Series
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The film retells (with some dramatic license) the true story of an uprising in Palestine of a ragtag band of Jews, in a fortress called Masada, who refuse to surrender to the governing Romans. O'Toole, as Flavius Silva, is the brilliant commander who, over the course of several years of trying, and failing, to breach Masada, comes to regard the leader of his foes, Eleazar ben Yair (the charismatic Peter Strauss), with a certain amount of respect and awe. If left to Flavius, he might have simply leave the holdout fortress and return to the Italy he so longs for; but the Roman emperor demands victory--at any cost.
The performances are uniformly crisp and believable; the direction by Boris Sagal, economical; the screenplay, sharp and incisive. David Warner, who won an Emmy for his performance, plays the brutal Roman henchman Falco with seething determination. The location shooting is nothing short of spectacular. There is sorrow in the story of Masada, but an uplifting message in the ability of true believers to create their own destiny. --A.T. Hurley
Top Customer Reviews
It is well written and has a stellar cast that more than lived up to the script. The series, based on Ernest K. Gann's historical novel The Antagonists, is a dramatization of a documented revolt by nearly a thousand Jerusalem Jews against Roman oppressors in A.D. 72 to 73.
Epic in its scope, the actors bring nobility and pathos to the ultimately inspiring and tragic story. Following a city-wide siege by Rome's soldiers, Jewish Zealots move into a desert fortress in the mountains of Masada of Judea. It is from that remote location that they make their last stand against the tyrannical Roman Empire. Amazingly, their defensive battlement is strong enough to convince the enemy to negotiate after a two-year battle!
The brilliant Peter O'Toole, portrays Cornelius Flavius Silva, commander of the Roman legions, while Peter Strauss (who was cast in several miniseries in the 80's) portrays the Zealot leader Eleazar ben Yair, who end up developing an improbably respect for each other during the life-and-death struggle.
O'Toole, is fresh from the Roman conquest of Judea. Exhausted emotionally and physically, he has been affected by the constant warring, but remains the ruthless Commander of the elite Tenth Legion. He yearns to return home to Italy, but is prevented from doing so by a violent uprising of a small band of courageous Jews led by the volatile renegade soldier, Eleazar ben Yair (Strauss).
Silva is ordered to capture Eleazar and his followers.Read more ›
Be advised that the shorter version (2 hours) omits a great deal of material included in the much longer mini-series format. Nevertheless, for the average viewer, the abridged version is packed with enough epic drama to suit just fine.
Peter O'Toole's Flavius Silva is peerless. His emotionless eloquence is an excellent portrayal of the general of Rome's undefeated tenth legion challenging the 900 Jewish raiders who have fled to Masada's heights. Peter Strauss (Eleazar) nearly matches O'Toole's brilliance as the fiery leader of the Jewish rebels, who prefer to die 'stealing victory' from the Romans rather than surrendering.
I have been to Masada twice, and honestly--it was nearly impossible to tell that the film really wasn't shot at the site! The highlight of the film is the massive siege engine's ascent up the Roman ramp, and the battering ram's assault on the wall. The concluding suicide sequence is handled with reserve and tact.
The final forty minutes are underscored by an exhilarating musical score that serves to heighten the tension as the inevitable outcome nears. The end is replete with superbly written dialogue, as well as attention to detail in evidencing the engineering expertise of Ancient Rome.
Because much of what is known about the real story of Masada is speculation, the less one knows about the incident, the more one can enjoy the film. Seen for what it--great entertainment, and not a history lesson, Masada will not fail to please.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an amazing classic about a rarely told tragedy in Israel.Published 4 months ago by Ann Heilman
Have visited Israel and Masada was amazing! Wanted this as a reminder of my trip.Published 5 months ago by Gayle S.
A moving, historical drama about Masada and the Roman legion. I watched many years ago and never forgot it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by mention not
Finally finished watching the entire series. Awesome story with historical roots.Published 5 months ago by Rev Hawk
It is about 6 hours long, I watched it in one evening..... I wanted to see more!!! I absolutely loved it!Published 6 months ago by wvapenny
Incredible mini series! The acting of Peter O'Toole should have won him an award and the movie mirrored the book perfectly!Published 6 months ago by Daniel Brown