6 March 2008 | jh3d
Long overdue for DVD release- the only 70mm Biblical epic still unavailable in any format.
The Big Fisherman was certainly not the biggest - or the best - of the fifties/sixties cycle of 70mm epics. Arriving between Ben-Hur (1959) and Spartacus (1960), it is not surprising that this rather small-scale epic became lost in the shuffle. It has no battles, no huge crowd scenes - in fact the crowds can be numbered in dozens rather than thousands - and an archaic script that harks back to Bible epics that were made ten years earlier.
That said, Lee Garmes' cinematography is splendid and Albert Hay Mallotte's score is superb; plus Howard Keel, Herbert Lom, John Saxon and Martha Hyer deliver exemplary performances, in spite of the leaden script.
Contrary to previous comments, The Big Fisherman was NOT shot in MGM Camera 65 - only Raintree County and Ben-Hur were. After the process changed its name to Ultra Panavision, it was used on Mutiny on the Bounty, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Khartoum and The Fall of the Roman Empire. The Big Fisherman used Super Panavision - a non anamorphic 70mm widescreen process.
Inferior the film may be to its contemporaries, it still deserves a DVD release - preferably a Special Edition version, as it is most certainly a worthy part of the canon of 70mm epics.
For further information, go to www.widescreenmovies.org and click on 'Highlights of Previous Issues' then 'The Epic that Disappeared: The Big Fisherman'.