Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Robe (1953)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Robe (1953)

In the stirring Biblical religious epic by director Henry Koster with exceptional pageantry and spectacle - notable as the first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope from 20th Century Fox, and with a sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954):

  • an impressive opening voice-over narration (by Richard Burton as one of the characters) proclaimed the might and glory of the Roman Empire in 32 AD during the reign of Emperor Tiberius: "Rome, master of the earth, in the 18th year of the emperor Tiberius. Our legions stand guard on the boundaries of civilization from the foggy coasts of the northern seas to the ancient rivers of Babylon, the finest fighting machines in history. The people of 30 lands send us tribute: their gold and silk, ivory and frankincense, and their proudest sons to be our slaves. We have reached the point where there are more slaves in Rome than citizens. Some say we are only looters of what others have created, that we create nothing ourselves. But we have made gods, fine gods and goddesses, who make love and war. Huntresses and drunkards. But the power lies not in their hands of marble, but in ours of flesh. We, the nobles of Rome, are free to live only for our own pleasure. Could any god offer us more? Today we traffic in human souls. The slave market is crowded because the emperor's heir and regent, young Caligula, is coming to buy gladiators. He probably will not be pleased to see me"
  • Roman military tribune, Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton), a cynical individual and a womanizer - was introduced walking into Rome's slave market, where he met his grown-up childhood sweetheart Diana (Jean Simmons); they were meeting for the first time in 12 years since she was an 11 year-old girl; she informed him that since being orphaned after the death of her father, she had become the ward of the Emperor Tiberius in Capri and was unofficially pledged to marry Tiberius' nephew and heir Caligula (Jay Robinson) - his corrupt Prince Regent in Rome; they briefly spoke of Marcellus' earlier promise to marry her when she was older, and Marcellus jested about it: (Marcellus: "Do you intend to hold me to it, Diana?" Diana: "I might")
  • in the slave market, Marcellus was intending to purchase a pair of Macedonian twins, but he was deliberately outbid by Caligula's henchman tribune Quintus (Frank Pulaski); during a second round of competitive bidding for defiant Greek slave Demetrius (Victor Mature) - an educated Greek and an excellent candidate for a servant or gladiator, Marcellus wagered 3,000 pieces of gold - and successfully acquired Demetrius, but also personally offended Caligula; after the purchase, Demetrius was unchained and ordered to voluntarily report to the house of Marcellus' father Senator Gallio (Torin Thatcher) and to his steward/house servant, Marcipor (David Leonard)
  • Senator Gallo was a highly-respected Roman representative trying to reinstate the Republic in Rome and oppose Caligula - he felt threatened that Marcellus was undermining his work: ("Are you deliberately trying to cut the ground from under my feet, or just too much of a fool to understand what you've done?...I lead the Senators who oppose him, and my son makes fun of him at private banquets, and now humiliates him in public. I'm fighting for what's left of the Republic against the growing tyranny of the cripple me, make my fight look like a personal quarrel")
  • the angered, tyrannical Caligula, in an immediately-spiteful and vengeful decision that evening (and to remove Marcellus from romantic competition), reassigned Marcellus with a military transfer to Jerusalem (in Palestine) with a written message: "The courage of a military tribune must not be squandered in the baths and banquet halls of Rome. You are ordered to the garrison at Jerusalem. You will sail tonight on the Palestine galley"; Marcellus regarded the punishment, to serve in a dangerous garrison in Jerusalem, as a death sentence: "Palestine. The worst pest-hole in the empire. A stiff-necked, riotous people always on the verge of rebellion. Our legions there are the scum of the army, the officers little better than the men. Disease takes them off like flies. Some have been assassinated, sometimes by their own men. Others have spared the assassins the trouble. What Caligula hopes he has given you is your death sentence"
  • as Marcellus prepared to depart, his father offered wise words of advice as a goodbye gesture: "Try to endure it, Marcellus. Grow hard. Watch the hand of the man who walks behind you. Drink in private and sleep with your sword at your side. Take nothing on faith. Bind yourself to no man. Above all, be a Roman, my son, and be a man of honor"
  • before Marcellus cast off on the galley ship at the dock, Diana arrived in an emotional farewell scene; she pledged her love to Marcellus: "I think Caligula treated you unjustly...It was partly my fault what happened... I've found you again, and I don't want to lose you. Perhaps you don't believe that a girl of 11 could fall in love and stay in love all these years" - she began to cry, fell into his arms and they kissed; she was planning to intercede on his behalf with the Emperor Tiberius in Capri; returning her feelings (to her surprise), Marcellus instructed her: "Make Tiberius promise not to give you to Caligula until I come back"

Diana's Emotional Goodbye to Marcellus at the Galley Dock

A Fervent Kiss and Embrace
  • after their banishment when Marcellus (with Demetrius) arrived into Jerusalem, he rode on a white horse accompanied by centurion Paulus (Jeff Morrow); Paulus observed that it was the Jewish feast time of Passover when soothsayers spoke of a coming Messiah: ("King. Savior. Redeemer. Son of their god - and general trouble-maker"); it happened to be the same day as Jesus' triumphant Palm Sunday entry riding on a white donkey while surrounded by devotees, who believed he was the Messiah; an awe-struck Demetrius gazed upon Jesus as he passed by and was deeply moved - ready to follow him: ("He looked into my eyes....I thought he was going to speak but he didn't. Only his eyes spoke....I think he wants me to follow him")
  • the self-indulgent Marcellus learned that Jesus, the very popular Messiah figure (regarded by officials as a "fanatic"), was ordered to be arrested by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate (Richard Boone) for "preaching, stirring up a commotion"; Marcellus was assigned by Pilate to command the Roman soldiers who were dealing with the threat of Jesus in their midst; to arrest Jesus quietly in order to avoid trouble, Paulus was given "eight gold pieces and some silver" by Marcellus to be used as a bribe money for anyone who would betray his location at night
  • overhearing their conversation, Demetrius rushed out and vainly sought to locate Jesus: ("the carpenter from Galilee") in Jerusalem and warn him, but learned too late from a man in the street that Jesus had already been arrested after being betrayed: ("He was betrayed to them, and by one he loved and trusted. By his disciple, who sat at his left hand"); Demetrius was told why the betrayal occurred - it was due to someone too weak to believe in him: "Because men are weak. Because they are cursed with envy and cowardice. Because they can dream of truth, but cannot live with it, they doubt. They doubt, the fools. Why must men betray themselves with doubts? Tell them, the others. Find them and tell them not to doubt. Even now, not to doubt. Tell them to keep their faith. They must keep faith"
  • and then Demetrius learned the betrayer's name: Judas! - lightning ominously struck and thunder roared
  • afterwards, Demetrius pleaded with Marcellus to save Jesus and defend him: ("Intercede for him. Make them see that he's innocent"), but he had already been "condemned" by Pilate himself, and sentenced to be crucified; Marcellus did not want to interfere with the law: ("Pilate's the governor, the Roman governor. He's decided, and as far as I'm concerned, that ends the matter"); Marcellus added: "For your own good, you'd better forget you ever saw this man"
  • the troubled Pilate washed his hands and then spoke to Marcellus about 'special orders' to report to the Emperor at Capri, but before he left, he assigned him to supervise the execution of "three criminals" - one of them being Jesus; Pilate cautioned: "There may be some trouble, some attempt to interfere"; Pilate absentedly-mindedly asked to wash his hands a second time; Paulus also teased Marcellus: "Your first crucifixion, isn't it?...What? Never driven nails into a man's flesh?"
  • during Jesus' march to his crucifixion on Calvary carrying his own heavy wooden cross, he fell and Demetrius intervened to stop a whipping from one of the guards, and was knocked unconscious; later after being revived during an unusually dark day, he stared up from below the cross and witnessed Jesus dying - and became grief-stricken
Demetrius Below the Cross - Picking Up Discarded Robe
  • as the crucifixion was concluding, Demetrius was ordered by Paulus to bring Jesus' discarded home-spun cloth dark red Robe (at the foot of the cross) to a group of Roman soldiers who were gambling with dice nearby; a drunken Marcellus won Jesus' garment and was congratulated by Paulus: ("Tribune Gallio's first battle trophy, for victory over the king of the Jews"); at that exact moment, fierce winds blew and thunder and lightning struck; Marcellus was gripped with fear when he touched the cross and some of Jesus' blood got on his hands; he looked up and heard Jesus' final prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"

Marcellus' Fear

Blood on His Hands

Marcellus Overhearing Jesus' Words
  • after the crucifixion as they walked back into town, Marcellus and Demetrius were caught in a rainstorm, and Demetrius was ordered to protectively cover his master with the robe: ("Throw that cloth over me"); but then, the guilt-stricken Marcellus instantly reacted in agony and yelled out: "Take it off"; Demetrius grabbed the robe and dramatically cursed Marcellus and the Romans as murderers before running away with the robe: "You crucified him. You, my master. But you've freed me. I'll never serve you again, you Roman pig. Masters of the world, you call yourselves. Thieves. Murderers. Jungle animals. A curse on you. A curse on your empire"
  • on a galley ship bound for Capri, Marcellus experienced worrisome nightmares of nails piercing Jesus' palms; once in Capri, he admitted to Diana: "I am ill, as you guessed. But in my mind. The truth is, I'm mad"; upon receiving a recommendation from a soothsayer Dodinius (Francis Pierlot): ("The clue to this man's sanity the robe that bewitched him....Plainly, there was a curse on the robe. His only chance is to find it and destroy it"), Tiberius ordered Marcellus - with an imperial commission - to investigate a religious sect (of Christians) back in Palestine; in his quest, he was compelled to search out the robe (in the hands of his runaway slave Demetrius) and destroy it; Marcellus was ordered to learn the names of all the suspicious disciples-followers of the martyred "dead magician" (Jesus); Tiberius reluctantly granted Diana's wish to marry Marcellus, although still thought of him as a "madman"
  • back in the land of Galilee in Palestine, now on an imperial mission to find the robe, Marcellus disguised himself as a Roman homespun cloth merchant, traveling through country villages; in Cana, he spoke to an honorable and quiet village elder Justus (Dean Jagger), a weaver, who also led the loving Christian community there; Marcellus was intrigued that Justus had associated with Jesus (who grew up in nearby Nazareth) and knew of his many miracles (Jesus had even cured Justus' own crippled grandson Jonathan)
  • that evening, Marcellus listened to a singer named Miriam (Betta St. John), another paralytic who was cured by Jesus of depression and bitter self-hatred, who sang to an assembled group of Christians about Jesus' resurrection (and the empty tomb)
  • in Justus' humble house during dinner, Marcellus vehemently denied the people's belief that Jesus had been resurrected: ("Surely you don't believe that he rose from the dead?...He's dead. And no moonstruck girl can sing him back to life again"); he also made a shocking confession - he claimed he knew a first-hand witness to Jesus' death and burial - "a soldier who saw the lance thrust into his side, a soldier who was - who was out there!...Were you out there?!" - he was obviously speaking for himself

Cana Village Elder Justus (Dean Jagger)

Miriam (Betta St. John) - Singing

Marcellus' Disturbing Confession to Justus About A Witness to Jesus' Death: "A soldier...who was out there!"
  • the next day, after speaking to the kind-hearted Miriam, Marcellus was informed that his real identity as a Roman had quickly become known to all of the villagers (as "the man who crucified him...his murderer"); she spoke of Jesus' love and hope: "He was no sorcerer, Marcellus. He cast no spells. He only asked two things of us: 'Love God', he said, and 'Love ye one another'. And he meant not only the Jews, but the Romans and Greeks, the slaves and soldiers, the strong and the weak, everyone. He asked us to build our lives on this love, this charity. To build a new world"; Marcellus disagreed: "Worlds are built on force, not charity. Power is all that counts"
  • news came of the arrival in town of Jesus' disciple Simon the Galilean (Michael Rennie) (called Peter, and known as "The Big Fisherman") - with a Greek companion
  • Marcellus confronted his slave Demetrius at Shalum's Inn; there, Marcellus demanded that Demetrius burn the robe to end its spell on him, but the Greek replied - in a heartfelt speech - that the robe didn't need to be feared; he asserted that Marcellus had become 'mad' because of his own guilty conscience and not because of the robe: "Why are you afraid of it? I'm not. It brings me close to the one who wore it....You're afraid, but you don't really know the reason why. You think it's his robe that made you ill. But it's your own conscience, your own decent shame. Even when you crucified him, you felt it. The spell isn't in his robe, it's in you - your heart and your mind. Face it, Marcellus. Don't be afraid of him. He'd understand you. He had compassion for all men. Marcellus. It was for your sake that he died. For the sake of all of us"
  • after unintentionally touching the robe, Marcellus expressed his loss of fear and relief that it couldn't harm him, as he pulled the robe closer to him: "I'm not afraid"; Demetrius was reassuring: "Until now, you only remembered what you did to a man. The wrong, and your shame. But now you remember the man"
  • in the village square, Demetrius introduced Marcellus to Peter, and then as Justus began to preach to the people, they were interrupted by an attack from a battalion of Roman soldiers led by Paulus (to "clean out a nest of traitors"); Justus was killed by an arrow shot into his chest
  • after Marcellus commanded the Romans to stop, Marcellus was informed by Paulus that Roman leadership had changed and his Imperial commission from Tiberius was no longer valid: "Tiberius is dead. Caligula is emperor"; when Marcellus disagreed: ("Have you new orders from Caligula?"), Paulus challenged him: ("Make me obey, Tribune!") to settle their argument with a sword duel - and although Marcellus was the victor after disarming Paulus, he refrained from killing him and instead hurled his sword into a tree; now defeated, Paulus' forces were ordered to withdraw by Marcellus: "You may give that order now, Centurion!"

Alongside Simon-Peter, Justus Was Struck by Arrow

Sword Duel: Paulus vs. Marcellus

Marcellus' Sword Hurled Into Tree
  • when Marcellus was asked by Peter to become a missionary and join the "movement", the guilt-ridden tribune admitted: "I crucified him"; Peter also admitted his own thrice-denial of Jesus, and then added: "He forgave you from the cross"; henceforth, Marcellus decided to pledge his life to serve Jesus and agreed on the journey: ("From this day on, I'm enlisted in his service. I offer him my sword, my fortune and my life. And this I pledge you on my honor as a Roman")
  • a year later in Rome, Caligula summoned Diana from Senator Gallio's home where she had been in retreat for the intervening time; to her shock, Diana was informed that Marcellus, who had been secretly hiding in Rome, had become a member of the Christian "sect" of fanatics ("one of the ringleaders") - and therefore was a "traitor and a conspirator against the state"; disbelieving what she had been told, Diana was taken to the palace armory guard room where a captive Demetrius was being tortured in the dungeon to divulge Marcellus' whereabouts; after receiving confirmation about Marcellus, Diana fled from Caligula's presence
  • in the Gallio house, the servant Marcipor (who had also admitted to being another Christian ("one of them")), led Diana to Marcellus' hiding place in the underground Roman catacombs with other Christians for a joyful reunion; Marcellus showed her the homespun robe and told her about its power of conversion: ("It changed my life. In time, it will change the world")
  • although she pledged her love for him, Diana was skeptical about his "story" and his risky plan to rescue Demetrius: "Marcellus, what you've told me is a beautiful story, but it isn't true. Justice and charity. Men will never accept such a philosophy. The world isn't like that. It never has been, and it never will be. Why must you throw your life away for a slave?"; nonetheless, she stood behind his rescue plan, and his belief in God: "If your God means that much to you, I won't stand in your way. I want to be your wife whatever you believe. I'd marry you if I had to share you with a thousand gods"
  • after a successful nighttime rescue of the almost-dead Demetrius, he was brought to the Gallio home where Peter miraculously revived him, although the disbelieving, attending Roman physician Marius (Thomas Browne Henry) thought "sorcery" was being practiced
  • Marcellus' father Senator Gallio was relieved that his son Marcellus was alive, but renounced and disowned Marcellus due to his religious conversion: "You have chosen to make yourself an enemy of Rome. From this night on, I have no son"
  • during Demetrius' attempted return to the catacombs with Marcellus, the two were pursued by Roman soldiers; Marcellus stayed behind and voluntarily surrendered in a gesture of self-sacrifice so that Demetrius could escape
  • during Marcellus' imprisonment before a trial, Diana visited him in his cell - she pleaded with him: ("Don't defy Caligula"), and did not understand his willingness to die in the name of his faith in Jesus: "My faith in what you told me isn't strong enough. If you die, I'll believe that you died for nothing"
  • Marcellus was put on trial for the offense of treason before the tyrannical Caligula and various Senators, to be proven guilty for being a "seditionist" and committing conspiratorial treason; Diana was forced to sit next to Caligula during the dramatic testimony; Marcellus confessed that he was a Christian, but denied that he and the Christians were plotting to overthrow the state: ("It is true that I am a Christian. It is not true that those of us who follow the teachings of Jesus are engaged in any plot against the state"); Marcellus offered Christianity to Caligula by handing him the robe, but Caligula rejected it as "bewitched" sorcery and scoffed at Marcellus' attempt to convert him
  • Marcellus eloquently defended his 'King' - and kingdom of Earth - and offered a life of peace, hope and love to Caligula: ("If the Empire desires peace and brotherhood among all men, then my King will be on the side of Rome and her emperor. But if the Empire and the emperor wish to pursue the course of aggression and slavery that have brought agony and terror and despair to the world, if there's nothing left for men to hope for but chains and hunger, then my King will march forth to right those wrongs. Not tomorrow, sire. Your Majesty may not be so fortunate as to witness the establishment of his kingdom, but it will come")
  • when Marcellus was given the "merciful" opportunity to renounce his allegiance to Jesus: ("We give you a chance to recant your treason and go free. Kneel to us and renew your tribune's oath of loyalty to your emperor. Renounce your allegiance to this dead Jew who dared to call himself a king") - Marcellus refused: ("I cannot renounce him [Jesus], sire. Nor can you. He is my king and yours as well. He is the Son of God"); Caligula sentenced and condemned Marcellus to death for "high treason"
Marcellus' Trial Before Caligula
  • standing next to Marcellus, the emotionally-moved Diana chose to accept his faith and die with him as her "chosen husband," while also powerfully denouncing the jealously-mad Caligula as a tyrant: "I have no wish to live another hour in an empire ruled by you! You dare to call yourself a Caesar. Once the Caesars of Rome were noble, but in you, noble blood has turned to poison. You corrupt Rome with your spite and malice...That you should be Caesar - vicious, treacherous, drunk with power, an evil, insane monster posing as emperor...As for me, I have found another king. I want to go with my husband into his kingdom"; Caligula granted her wish: "Then, by the gods, you shall! Go, both of you, into your kingdom!"
Diana's Denouncement of the Emperor Caligula
  • in the concluding finale, as they walked hand-in-hand toward their fate and execution, Caligula hysterically screamed after them: "They're going into a better kingdom! They're going into a better kingdom! They're going to meet their king! They're going to meet their king!"; a repentant Senator Gallio finally acknowledged his son as they passed by; Diana gave the robe for safe-keeping to Marcipor before they exited the trial hall and climbed a staircase; the background behind them was replaced by a cloud-filled heavenly blue sky, accompanied by a celestial chorus singing "Alleluia"

Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton)

Diana (Jean Simmons)

Demetrius (Victor Mature) - On Auction Block

Auction Bidding War: Caligula vs. Marcellus

Senator Gallio to His Son Marcellus: "What Caligula hopes he has given you is your death sentence"

Marcellus' Entry into Jerusalem

Demetrius Awe-Struck By the Sight of Jesus' Passing on Palm Sunday

Demetrius' Learning of Jesus' Betrayal and Arrest - Speaking to Judas!

Marcellus' Advice to Demetrius: "For your own good, you'd better forget you ever saw this man"

The Troubled Pilate Washing His Hands

Pilate With Marcellus

Jesus Carrying Heavy Cross to His Own Crucifixion

Demetrius' Intervention During Jesus' Walk to His Death

Marcellus' Win of Jesus' Robe by Throw of Dice

Marcellus With Robe Over His Shoulders - "Take it Off!"

Demetrius' Curse Upon Rome and Marcellus

Marcellus Suffering Nightmares On Boat to Capri

In Capri, Marcellus to Diana: "The truth is, I'm mad"

Tiberius' Command to Marcellus: "Find this robe and destroy it"

Miriam's Comforting Words to Marcellus

Demetrius With the Robe - Ordered to Burn It

Marcellus Accidentally Touching the Harmless Robe and Reacting: "I'm not afraid"

Demetrius' Reassurance: "Now, you remember the man"

Marcellus with Peter: "I'm enlisted in his service"

In Rome, Demetrius' Torture in Caligula's Dungeon

Diana's Reunion with Marcellus in Roman Catacombs

Diana: "I want to be your wife whatever you believe"

The Miraculous Revival of Demetrius by Peter

Marcellus Captured and in Jail - Visited by Diana

Stirring Finale: Walking Hand in Hand to Their Execution and Ascending into Heaven


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