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Sodom and Gomorrah (1963 film)

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Sodom and Gomorrah
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Produced by Joseph E. Levine
Maurizio Lodi-Fe
Goffredo Lombardo
Written by Giorgio Prosperi
Hugo Butler
Starring Stewart Granger
Anouk Aimée
Pier Angeli
Stanley Baker
Rossana Podestà
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Alfio Contini
Silvano Ippoliti
Cyril J. Knowles
Mario Montuori
Editing by Mario Serandrei
Peter Tanner
Distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date(s) Italy 4 October 1962
United States 23 January 1963
Running time 154 min
Country Italy/France/United States
Language English

Sodom and Gomorrah, known in the USA as The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah, is a 1963 epic film which is loosely based on the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. The film was a Franco-Italian-American co-production made by Pathé, SGC and Titanus. It was directed by Robert Aldrich and produced by Maurizio Lodi-Fe, Goffredo Lombardo, and Joseph E. Levine. The screenplay was by Giorgio Prosperi and Hugo Butler, the cinematography by Alfio Contini, Silvano Ippoliti, Cyril J. Knowles and Mario Montuori, the music score by Miklós Rózsa, the production design by Ken Adam and the costume design by Giancarlo Bartolini Salimbeni and Peter Tanner.

The film has a running time of 155 minutes. It is available on VHS but not on Region 1 DVD.

Cast

  • Stewart Granger .... Lot
  • Anouk Aimée .... Queen Bera
  • Pier Angeli .... Ildith
  • Stanley Baker .... Prince Astaroth
  • Rossana Podestà .... Shuah
  • Rik Battaglia .... Melchior
  • Giacomo Rossi-Stuart .... Ishmael
  • Scilla Gabel .... Tamar
  • Anthony Steffen .... The Captain (as Antonio de Teffi)
  • Gabriele Tinti .... Lieutenant
  • Enzo Fiermonte .... Eber
  • Daniele Vargas .... Segur
  • Claudia Mori .... Maleb
  • Feodor Chaliapin. .... Alabias
  • Mitsuko Takara .... Orphea
  • Massimo Pietrobon .... Isaac
  • Mimmo Palmara .... Arlok
  • Liana Del Balzo .... Rich Hebrew Woman
  • Francesco Tensi .... 1st Old Man
  • Andrea Tagliabue .... Eber's Son
  • Alice Kessler .... Dancer
  • Ellen Kessler .... Dancer
  • Vittorio Artesi .... Eber's Other Son (uncredited)
  • Pietro Ceccarelli .... Officer in Sodom (uncredited)
  • Giovanna Galletti .... Malik (uncredited)
  • Primo Moroni .... 2nd Old Man (uncredited)
  • Mimmo Poli .... Queen's Cupbearer

Storyline

The twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah prosper because of their great deposits of salt, which are mined by an army of slaves. The decadent citizens, who have become wealthy by trading salt, live in luxury and use human slaves as servants and for violent games of entertainment.

After a night of revelry, Astorath (Stanley Baker), the Prince of Sodom, tells slave girl Tamar (Scilla Gabel) to meet the Chief of the Elamites, with whom he plans to overthrow his sister, Bera, Queen of Sodom (Anouk Aimee). Tamar's treason is discovered and Bera demands the name of her co-conspirator. Tamar refuses to speak and, as a result, Bera has her and her two sisters killed.

Meanwhile, Lot (Granger) leads his family and a Hebrew tribe through the desert, hoping that he can find a permanent home for the Hebrews along the fertile banks of the River Jordan. As the Hebrews approach their destination, Lot meets a beautiful and mysterious woman named Ildith (Pier Angeli), who luxuriates in a litter while a group of slave girls in chains follow her over the rocky terrain. Lot, noticing Ildith's fine clothing, assumes that she owns these women. She tells him that she is also a slave, albeit the chief of the Queen of Sodom's body slaves. Lot tells her that owning slaves is evil. The following dialog ensues:

Ildith: "Evil? How strange you are. Where I come from, nothing is evil. Everything that gives pleasure is good."
Lot: "Where do you come from?"
Ildith: "There, not far. Just ahead: Sodom and Gomorrah."

Once Lot and his people reach the Jordan, he negotiates the use of the land with Queen Bera, promising her both grain and defense should Sodom's enemies attack. He makes one provision to their deal: that any slave of Sodom who reaches the Hebrew camp will be granted asylum. She agrees, and in a surprising turn, gives Lot Ildith. Ildith is unwilling to leave the queen and her life of luxury in Sodom. Bera's brother, Astorath, is disgusted -- and baffled -- by his sister's easy terms with the Hebrews. However, he soon turns his attentions to Lot's flirtatious daughter, Shuah (Rossana Podestà).

Ildith dislikes the rough conditions of the Hebrew camp, but soon becomes a friend to Lot's daughters. She and Lot also realize their love for one another and plan to marry. Love also blooms elsewhere in the camp as Shuah and Astorath begin a secret love affair. Lot's other daughter, Maleb (Claudia Mori) and his lieutenant, Ishmael (Rik Battaglia) also plan a marriage.

Lot and Ildith's wedding day celebrations are interrupted by an Elamite attack. Although the Hebrews and Sodomite army fight valiantly, they are nearly defeated by the fierce nomadic warriors. As a last, desperate measure, Lot orders the dam that the Hebrews have built to be broken. His quick thinking saves the twin cities and the Hebrews, but also destroys the camp and the crops. However, the flood waters reveal that the Hebrew camp is also the site of a vast salt deposit. Lot now believes that the Hebrews can move out of the wildereness and live among the Sodomites ("Separate, but in their full view," he cautions) by selling salt. (In the original Roadshow prints, this is where the theatrical intermission occurred.)

Lot and Ildith now live in luxury in Sodom. Sodomites and Hebrews both revere Lot and seek his judgment. Ishmael believes that Lot has succumbed to luxury and instead should raise a force to liberate Sodom's mine slaves. He disagrees and advises Ishmael to wait, believing that the Sodomites will change their ways in time. Ishmael does not heed Lot and unsuccessfully tries to set the slaves free. He believes that the Hebrews will harbor the slaves, but they instead shut their doors on the desperate men who are soon recaptured and tortured. As the newly appointed minister of justice, Lot must sentence Ishmael. Ishmael is only one of Lot's problems, as he is confronted by the jealous Astorath, who tells him that not only has he had both of Lot's daughters, but that Ildith has kept these affairs secret. An outraged Lot kills Astorath.

At this point, Queen Bera's plot becomes clear: she used the Hebrews to stop the Elamite threat and also used Lot to rid her of the scheming Astorath. Lot suddenly becomes deeply remorseful that he has killed and that he has led his family and people into sin. Bera has him taken to prison.

While Lot asks God for forgiveness and guidance, two angels appear to tell him that God is displeased with the twin cities and will destroy them. Lot pleads with the angels to spare the city if he can find even one Sodomite citizen who will repent and leave the cities with him. The angels agree and free both Lot and Ishmael from prison.

Meanwhile, there are so many men tortured on the wheel, Queen Bera exclaims that the games have just begun with the reemergence of Lot. Although he gets God's consent, he finds it more difficult to find any Sodomite citizen willing to follow him. Even his own daughters, who believe Lot a hypocrite, at first refuse. Ildith, however, convinces them to leave, hoping that they will someday understand their father and his greatness as a leader. Shuah goes only grudgingly, telling Lot that she hopes to see him suffering as she is now that Astorath is dead.

Immediately after the Hebrews and Sodomite slaves leave, God assails Sodom with earthquakes and lightening. Queen Bera retreats with Orphea to her palace, where they are killed under the collapsing pillars. Queen Bera claims that the lightning is only an earthquake, and everybody flees into the streets, crushed by collapsing towers. Not one single Sodomite lived to tell the tale. Ildith now wishes she were back in Sodom Despite her love for Lot, Ildith cannot accept God, believing in Lot rather than in a Divine plan. Despite Lot's warnings, Ildith looks back at Sodom. God turns her into a pillar of salt just as He destroys the city with an atom bomb-like explosion. Lot collapses in grief. Maleb and Shuah rush to comfort him. He staggers off with the Hebrews, who wander the desert once more.

Score

The film is notable for featuring the last of Miklos Rozsa's epic film scores. Rozsa, who replaced Dimitri Tiomkin, thought the $7 million film was tacky and inferior. In January, 2007, Digitmovies AE released a nearly complete version of the score on a two-CD set, which is taken from the Legend LP recording. Previously, other selections from the score were available on two CDs: one from Cambria Records and Publishing, which is taken from the composer's mono recordings, and one from BMG, which is taken from the original LP.

Trivia

  • Maurice Binder, who designed the credits for the James Bond films, directed the film's prologue. Another "Bond" film collaborator, Ken Adam, was the film's production designer. The second unit director was an uncredited Sergio Leone. In the Italian-language version of the film, Robert Aldrich and Leone are credited as co-directors.

Reviews

Time Out London's review stated that the film was a "low point" in the director's career and that the film represented a 1960s tackiness thankfully not seen anymore.[1]

References

  1. Time Out

External links

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