A boiled down - but still interminable - version of the four-part TV series adapted from Ernest K Gann's novel, this is a sort of would-be Biblical epic with Zionist overtones. Set in Judea during the first century AD, it tells the tale of Masada, the fortress defiantly held against the might of Rome by a handful of Jews fighting to retrieve their freedom - and their homeland - after the sack of Jerusalem by Roman colonialists. In between lengthy bouts of scuffling, with rhubarbing Jews and Romans prodding each other with tinny swords, the Jewish leader Eleazar (Strauss) is as strong and silent as a good Zionist guerilla should be, while the Roman commander (O'Toole) ponders the ironies of good government and the loneliness of the long-distance colonial administrator. Terrible stuff, irretrievably scuttled by O'Toole's hollow, ranting performance.
Cast and crew