Tuesday, 31 January 2017
First viewed : 15 February 1983
The critics weren't very kind to this either but in this case I think they got it wrong.
Masada was made in 1981, a four part US mini-series based on Josephus' ( now seriously questioned ) account of the tragic last act of the First Jewish-Roman War. It was shown over a fortnight in February 1983. I only saw one episode first time round but watched most of it with my mum when repeated in an earlier evening slot in the summer of 1986.
It was a good story, well-paced with high production values. One thing that might have got up British critic's noses was the clear segregation of the cast with the heroic Jewish resisters played by Americans and the brutal, bullying Romans played by trusty Brits. If you could forgive that though, the cast was outstanding. The producers scored a major coup in securing the services of Peter O Toole as the high-minded but ruthless general Silva while his main adversary Eleazar was played by Peter Strauss. You also had Timothy West as the Emperor Vespasian, Anthony Quayle as the veteran siege engineer and the architect of the Jews' downfall, David Warner as a ruthless Roman politician ( with Christopher Biggins as his sidekick ) and the gorgeous Barbara Carrera ( in some pretty skimpy costumes ) as Silva's Jewish mistress ( a completely fictional character but hey, no complaints from me ! ).