Coming to television this week from the REELZ CHANNEL and director Roger Young during this Easter week comes a story rarely told about BARRABAS.
This film tells the story of Barabbas (Billy Zane), a criminal known to all. If he’s not out stealing from someone he can be found in the local brothel. There he sees Ester (Cristiana Capotondi), a servant girl who has a strong belief in God and finds himself quite taken by her.
But his enemies aren’t as taken with Barabbas. He doesn’t see them coming when they attack, beat and leave him for dead. It is Ester who finds and treats his wounds. When the soldiers begin looking for criminals, Barabbas meets Kedar (Hristo Shopov), leader of the Zealots who want nothing more than to bring down the Romans.
Kedar talks Barabbas into becoming a gladiator in order to get their hands on Rome’s gold. When plans change it is Kedar who tells Barabbas that its time to find his true destiny in life. Once again Ester enters his life and tells him about Jesus (Marco Foschi) and Barabbas thinks he has found the person who can free them all from the Romans.
When Jesus tells Barabbas “My kingdom is not of this world”, he goes on a rampage and believes Jesus is misleading the people of Jerusalem. What really rocks Barabbas to the core is the day he is thrust before Pontius Pilate (Filippo Nigro). When Pilot offers the crowd Jesus or Barabbas – the crowd chooses Barabbas.
Now the questioning begins as he seeks out Mary (Valentina Carnelutti), Peter (Franco Castellano) and even Lazarus (Lorenzo Balducci) who Jesus brought back from the dead to ask the question, “why was I saved?”
Barabbas would rejoin the Zealots when he feels Pilot is responsible for the dead of Jesus but instead is captured and put into prison. Visited by Pilate’s wife Claudia (Anna Valle), Barabbas cannot foresee where his destiny is about to take him.
FINAL WORD: Zane as Barabbas is an uncaring thief with no sympathy for anyone. This is his road to discover when falling for Ester and equally surprising his the compassion for others he never knew he could have. Zane has the innate ability to portray a character that has a ‘nothing can get to me’ attitude. His ability to shut off when the humane part of his characters soul begins to show has always been an attribute Zane pulls off with ease.
Capotondi as Ester is sweet and has just the right look of a young girl seeking a true belief for her life. There are moments when it is a tad to simplistic but that is to be expected of this era. Carnelutti as Mary is a straightforward mother who accepts the fate her son is dealt. When speaking with Barabbas she doesn’t sugar coat the event for his benefit.
Valle as Claudia is a story that most probably aren’t aware of. The relationship between her seeking to believe in something begins her friendship with Ester but causes more pain with husband Pilate. Nigro as Pilate is another character with such duality. He has obvious pain mixed with love for his wife Claudia and an equal pain and love for Rome.
Foschi as Jesus is now among those who have taken the role of this beloved spiritual leader. I can’t even begin to imagine how an actor can wrap their brain around portraying Jesus without wondering how it will be seen by viewers. Foschi seems so down to earth and relatable.
Other cast include: Tommaso Ramenghi as Dan, Paolo Seganti as Valerio Flacco, Giampiero Judica as Iezer, Valentina Carnelutti as Maria, Matteo Branciamore as Giuda, Diego D’Elia as Sahak, and Alessandra Costanzo as Tamar.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give BARABBAS three tubs of popcorn out of five. This is an interesting look at the story of his life. The last production I saw regarding this biblical character was Anthony Quinn in the 1961 film of the same name. Zane manages to make the main character unlikable most of the time but always hold out hope for change – which is the point.
This is not director Young’s first film with a spiritual theme. He has covered a wide range of Biblical persons including ST. PAUL (2000), JESUS (1999), SOLOMON (1997), MOSES (1995), JOSEPH (1995), and the television series ROME (2005).
REELZ CHANNEL is bringing some of the most innovative programming to viewers. Along with BARABBAS there are returning shows such as XIII, BOMB GIRLS and mini-series such as RING OF FIRE. Take a moment to check out what REELZ has to offer at www.reelz.com and fall in love again with television!
In the end – his whole life lead to one destiny!
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