Demetrius and the Gladiators (Twilight Time Blu-ray)
Director - Delmer Daves
Cast - Vincent Mature, Michael Rennie
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - $39.95
Distributor - Twilight Time
Reviewer - Sean Smithson
DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS
The Film (2.5/5)
Sequelizing the Bible. Gotta love it, at least conceptually. Demetrius And The Gladiators picks up the moment it's predecessor film, biblical epic The Robe, leaves off. At the end of the first movie, Richard Burton and Jean Simmons (Marcellus Gallio and Diana) bail the Roman empire to become full blown Christian martyrs, after Marcellus, a Roman warrior who ends up with the robe Jesus wore to the crucifixion. Beset by visions which bring him to the light, via the conduit of the sacred garment, Richard Burton ends up giving the blessed (or cursed, if you ask me) robe to an unintentionally creepy Micheal Rennie (Peter). Ah, but Jay Robinson (deliciously skeevy as the evil Caligula, and the films saving grace) wants the robe as well.
Enter bad ass exonerated slave-boy Demetrius, played by chisel faced star, the over-angular Victor Mature. He's going to protect the piece of cloth and make sure it's power doesn't fall into the wrong hands, namely this Caligula, a prince who buggers his male underlings, an issue I am sure Demetrius is probably sensitive to, having served as a slave to the Roman Guard.
I tried to watch this through a peplum epic/sword and sandal filter, and enjoy it as a genre film. Alas, it was to no avail and impossible to do when the word "Jesus" kept flying around. I can't believe I've avoided typing that word in this write-up until now. Hopefully I can avoid it for the rest of the piece.
As a film, Demetrius And The Gladiators doesn't play as an out of the box genre piece for all-inclusive fans like myself, nor does it resonate as a true classic, because let's face it, organized religion is closer to being placed in the villainous zone than perceived as some oasis of salvation these days. The pushing of these antiquated ideals of an anthropomorphic "God" up in the sky might be enjoyable, if we didn't have to deal with billions of zealots who actually believe that stuff, and impose it on us and others on a daily basis in the real world.
We aren't in danger of having our government overrun by Odinists, or grown men convinced a Hydra is going to pop out from around the corner. So in that regard, I had a difficult time being on board for Demetrius And The Gladiators at all. It's an example of a piece of content meant to entertain and placate a group of people I can't stand in the first place.
Technically, this Twilight Time blu ray is as bare boned as the corpse of the mythical figure it deifies and eulogizes. The best thing about the release is the isolated score track, by the amazing Franz Waxman, which is epic in and of itself. Other than that, you have the trailer, and that's it. I would have been more interested in seeing some extras on the production, and how director Delmer Daves oversaw the direction of hundreds of extras, and laid out some of the glorious blocking with cinematographer Milton Krasner. or to see the mighty task of outfitting sometimes hundreds of extras in period garb. Sadly, the transfer is quite grainy, but understandable as well, since not all film stock is conducive to the new remastering process. Too bad though, that all those shiny gold breast plates and bloody white robes don't pop quite as brilliantly as they probably did onscreen. Then again who notices, with all that eyebrow acting Victor Mature is pumping out.
I can only imagine how annoying that was in 35mm back in the day. Jesus fucking Christ.
Oops! I said it again!