Il colosso di Rodi Film Details
Overview: While on holiday in Rhodes, an Athenian war hero becomes involved in two different plots to overthrow the tyrannical king: one from Rhodian patriots, and the other from sinister Phoenician agents.
Tagline: A monster statue of bronze and stone…A fabulous fortress 20 stories tall!
Review: Well, it should be pretty obvious why anyone is still watching this film director Sergio Leone later became a force in cinema with his “Fistful of Dollars” trilogy but I will go ahead and brave the “gladiator movies” jokes and admit that I’ve seen quite a number of these over the years and I particularly enjoy the ones by Mario Bava (“Hercules in the Haunted World,” “Viking Massacre,” etc). I’m probably one of the few people who would have watched this anyway because I enjoy the style of the films in this genre. So I have to say I wish Leone had been able to do more of these because he shows great ability here not just “promise”, but ability and it’s one of the more memorable “peplums” that I’ve seen. It’s probably not a 100% success even on its own terms, but given that it’s an ambitious project and it still looks pretty good after all these years I think it probably deserves more credit than it will ever get. The print is in much better shape than most I’ve seen, and the original photography is of higher quality. There are some really impressive sets, no doubt recycling some elements from past toga bonanzas, but the costumes are pretty ridiculous. “Shoes by Pompeii” should probably be regarded as a bad sign at least for those wishing to take the genre seriously, because star Rory Calhoun appears here in an ensemble that looks kind of like a Mexican wrestler outfit crossed with something out of “Kismet.” But in general the production is very nice; the Colossus itself is particularly well done while it doesn’t walk around like the one in “Jason and the Argonauts”, it does have a fiery bowl that it can drop on passing ships and a catapult that shoots hot oil out of its head. One of the film’s most unique and exciting sequences occurs when the hero, Darios (Calhoun), runs from the villains out of the ear of the statue and swordfights them on its arm (a tribute to Hitchcock’s “Saboteur”, perhaps). Later on we have a very interesting, distinctly Italian, shot of the statue’s face with two heads peering out of the eye-holes, producing a striking surreal image. Other than that shot there aren’t a lot of the more audacious trappings that we might associate with Leone’s films. There is a nice 360 degree swivel shot when Darios is lured into a crypt by the lovely femme fatale Diala (Lea Massari). And there is an obvious preoccupation with horses and with photographing people riding horses in a rural setting. There’s also the feeling that Darios is very much a “stranger in a strange land;” Leone utilizes rather than hiding the odd chemistry between the very American Calhoun and his European co-stars. According to the DVD commentator, Sir Christopher Frayling, this is another nod to Hitchcock. I didn’t notice that particularly, but I do think that it was a good way to make the film at least marginally believable instead of laughable. That said, the chemistry between Calhoun and his female co-stars (love interests) is pretty much non-existent. In fact I personally did not even realize that there were 2 different women in the movie until about half-way through, and I’m not really embarrassed about it. Much more should have been done to differentiate the characters, as opposed to simply having the more sympathetic female (Angel Aranda) wear yellow in all the early scenes. Even with all the development that Leone gives Diala later in the story these women never become anything more than stock characters. Speaking not as a Leone fan so much as a fan of peplums, the most striking aspect of the film is the way the film revels in its torture sequences (including such elements as a roof that drips hot oil on captive musclemen and a chariot with blades attached to the wheels that chases men in the arena) and the way that the camera lingers on violence for perhaps just a few moments longer than usual in kiddie films. Another thing is that this film avoids almost all the supernatural and magical elements that tended to be emphasized more and more as the peplum cycle of the late 50s/early 60s wore on, signaling that this was a more “serious” production than most; again a sign that this was intended for more of an adult audience that would patronize something like “Ben Hur” as opposed to “Hercules Versus the Moon-Men.” And it also goes out of its way at various points to turn genre conventions on their head, much as Leone’s famous Westerns later did for example introducing a huge group of slaves like in “Spartacus” but instead of having them revolt, having them turn out to be the army of the oppressor in disguise. When you’ve seen a number of the Hercules and Maciste films you start to appreciate anyone who approaches the genre with anything even resembling ambition and respect for history. Fans of the great director Leone might consider this a disappointment or even an embarrassment, but in my opinion it’s nothing of the sort. It has its awkward moments, but far fewer of them than most films of this type and budget. We should all be glad that thanks to Leone’s reputation a nice print of one of the better sword and sandal Italian epics is finally available again. Perhaps the ambition of Leone and his fellow artists was a bit too high for the subject matter and the demands of the formula for this genre, but that’s hardly a hangin’ crime as one might say in his later pictures.
Country: Italy, France, Spain
Duration: 127 min
Genre: Adventure, Drama, History
Also known as: Der Koloß von Rhodos,The Colossus of Rhodes,Ο Κολοσσός της Ρόδου,El Coloso de Rodas,ロード島の要塞,Velikan z Rodosa,Kolos sa Rodosa,Le colosse de Rhodes,Taistelu Rhodoksesta,Striden om Rhodos,Kolossen på Rhodos,Il colosso di Rodi,Родоският колос,O kolossos tis Rodou,El coloso de Rodas,O Colosso de Rodes,Colosul din Rodos,Kolossens hemmelighed,Kolos z Rodos,Колосс Родосский,A rodoszi kolosszus