Cartagine in fiamme (Carthage in Flames) (1960)




Director:    Carmine Gallone.

Starring:     Pierre Brasseur (Sidone),  Daniel Gélin (Phegor),  Anne Heywood (Fulvia),  Aldo Silvani (Hermon),  Ilaria Occhini (Ophir),  Paolo Stoppa (Astarito),  José Suárez (Hiram),  Terence Hill (Tsour),  Gianrico Tedeschi (Eleo),  Edith Peters (Sarepta),  Cesare Fantoni (Assian), Erno Crisa (Asdrubak). 

Country:  Italian

War and intrigue in the Third Punic War.


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

The King of Carthage tells his Council that the Romans can do what they want to them.  They demanded 300 hostages and these were delivered.  And now Carthage is besieged.  The fear is that the Romans will massacre all the people of Carthage and destroy Carthage physically. 

A member of the Council, Phegor, protests to the Council to stop Moloch from sacrificing/executing the Roman woman Fulvia.  Others will be sacrificed also, but the people demand that the Roman "witch" be sacrificed first.  Hiram watches as Fulvia is grabbed and carried up to the fire in which she is to be thrown. 

Flashback.  The Roman Fulvia is heading down river in a boat and has the boat stopped to pick up a wounded man who is a Carthaginian.  She has the man, Hiram, put in her boat and she starts acting as his nurse.  She brings him home and puts him in a bed.  Her father doesn't like her having picked up a Carthaginian, but Fulvia only says that he is just a sick man to her and she must save him. 

Back to the present.  Hiram intervenes at the last moment.  He stabs the sacrificer and grabs Fulvia.  He runs away with her in his arms.  He has some men to help him get away.  They take her to a ship waiting for them.  They put her aboard.  The ship has been dressed out as a merchant ship so as not to attract any undo notice. 

Hiram is making his way over to see his love Ophir.  Ophir anxiously awaits his arrival.  With her is her faithful black servant Sarepta.  Ophir has another person in love with her.  She grew up with Tsour and loves him, but as a brother, not as a lover. 

At the Council they are trying to figure out who could have stolen the Roman girl.  Phegor says that perhaps the thief wasn't a Roman at all.  He thinks the thief is Hiram.  Hiram had fought for Carthage, but was later exiled to Rome as a traitor.  There is a sense of urgency in finding the Roman woman.  After all, she may prove helpful in negotiations with the Roman commander Scipio, whose armies are virtually hammering at the gates of the city. 

Hiram's men tell Ophir to be ship side at daybreak.  Just then Phegor and his men come to Ophir's house, searching for Hiram.  One of Phegor's men is killed.  Phegor tells Ophir that he knows that Hiram is here.  Ophir says she does not trust Phegor just as she does not trust a snake. 

Fulvia says that five years ago, she saved Hiram's life.  After her father died, her mother and her came to Carthage to find Hiram, but he already had been exiled.  Phegor got sight of her and pursued her.  Phegor even sent his men to Rome to try to capture Hiram and forcefully return him to Carthage and possible execution.  Her mother died from the blows delivered by Phegor.

At port the next morning they look for Ophir.  Her servant Sarepta is there and tells the men on the ship that she is not coming.  Phegor has sent her to his country house where she is watched under guard.  Apparently, Phegor is backing a marriage of Ophir to Tsour against the wishes of Ophir.  Fulvia wants to know who this "Ophir" is.  A man close to Hiram, named Sidone, tells her that Ophir is the reason Hiram came back from Rome.  Hiram arrives and tells Sidone to get the ship underway immediately.  He thinks Phegor and his men probably followed Sarepta to the ship.  The rowers jump to their places and start rowing the ship out of port. 

The ship's rigging may be too high to get under the barrier at the port entrance/exit.  So Hiram and another man climb up to the top mast and start hacking away at its top.  They just cut it enough that the barrier pushes over the top of the mast.   Once at sea they unfurl their sails.  Phegor on a ship of war comes after them.  The ship is gaining on them, so Hiram figures they will have to fight it out with the men of the other ship.  Phegor is trying to ram Hiram's ship in order to cut it in two parts.  But it turns out that Hiram's ship rams into the war ship breaking many of its oar on that side.  Hiram's men start jumping over onto Phegor's ship to fight it out.   

Hiram and Phegor start fighting each other.  It's a long fight.  The two men fall onto the steps leading down to the oar room.  Fulvia works hard picking up the fire torches thrown onto the decks of Hiram's ship and throwing them into the sea.  On Phegor's ship the source of the fire for the fire torches is knocked down and sets the ship on fire.  Some of the rowers start slipping out of the oar windows to get into the sea.  Phegor and Hiram are now fighting it out on top of the lookout tower while it burns.  To escape, Phegor jumps into the sea.  Hiram jumps and catches a rope and climbs down to the deck of the ship. 

Hiram gets his men to return to their own ship as Phegor's ship burns.  The other ship starts falling apart from the fire.  Once Phegor has been thwarted, Hiram heads for the place of the impending marriage.  Hiram is determined to prevent the marriage of Ophir to Tsour.  Fulvia asks Sarepta about Ophir and the servant says she is pretty and younger than Fulvia.  She adds that Hiram and Ophir are like a pair of love birds.

Hiram and some of his men arrive at the shore where the wedding will take place.  Fulvia is with them.  Ophir delays the wedding by saying that Hiram is the one who has her heart.  Hiram and his men arrive and subdue Phegor's guards.  Fulvia talks with Phegor.  She says that she will be his, as long as he saves Hiram.  A group of mercenaries arrives.  Hiram knows the leader of the group and reminds him that he saved his life once.  So the leader refuses to fight Hiram.  Hiram's men take Ophir with them back to their boat.  Seeing this Fulvia tries to join them, but Phegor grabs her reminding her of her promise.  Hiram realizes that Fulvia is not with them.  He and a couple of men go back to get her.  In his attempt to free Fulvia, Hiram is captured by Phegor's men, but not before Fulvia is taken away from Phegor. 

Sidone, Ophir and her servant and the rest of the raiding party return to their ship.  But all of a sudden Carthaginian soldiers and archers jump out and kill most of the raiders.  Only three of Hiram's men get away, but without Ophir and her servant. 

In Carthage there is a food riot over the scarce grain.  Soldiers arrive to disperse the rioters.  Ophir hears the good new that Hiram is still alive and back in Carthage.  She also learns that he is at the Fortress of Bar (?).  Tsour arrives to speak to Ophir.  He has begun to accept the fact that Ophir and Hiram will marry if they survive.  They talk about their youth before the time that Hiram came between the two of them. 

Sidonia and Fulvia with two of Hiram's men arrive in Carthage and are taken in by a friend of Hiram.  Hiram has been flogged by Phegor, so they want to get him out of the fortress as soon as they can.  A group of men and Fulvia go to a secret door to the fortress dungeon and get it open.  They grab the jailor and force him to open the cell holding Hiram.  Fulvia and the others find therein a very weak Hiram.  The jailor tries to run and is killed. 

The first thing Hiram says is to ask if Ophir is safe?  Fulvia tries to pretend she is dead, but can't keep it up and admits that they do not know where Ophir is.  But they do know she is alive.  The team grabs Hiram and puts him in a net together with another man and Fulvia.  The net is then hoisted up and over and then down to the bottom of the cliffs by the sea.  The team then descends by climbing down the rope. 

Tsour tells Ophir that Hiram has been freed from the fortress prison.  Ophir is grateful for the news and comments on how noble Tsour has been.  She tells him to come back to see her because he is her only friend in her captivity. 

The Carthagians suffer a defeat at the hands of the Romans.  Phegor is planning to work with Rome to get Carthage to surrender.  He expects to be rewarded handsomely for his efforts for the Romans.  Fulvia comes to Phegor saying she must talk to him.  She promises to stay with Phegor if he spares Hiram.  Phegor says to her:  "You hate me and I do not care."  He agrees to let Hiram's ship leave from the port. 

Scipio is threatening the Carthaginians at Beeza (?) now.  Fulvia learns that Hiram went off to be a hero by fighting against Scipio.  The woman from Rome cries as she fears they will surely kill Hiram. 

At the Council the news is that the next Roman assault will be the last of Carthage.  Hiram comes boldly in with his friend, the leader of the mercenaries.  He offers to lead the resistance to the Romans.  Phegor makes fun of Hiram and his offer, but Tsour says he will serve under Hiram.  The King decides to back Hiram.  The fight will be at Birsam (?).  Now Sarepta take Hiram to see Ophir.  The couple hug and kiss. 

The wounded Carthaginian soldiers return from the battlefield in wagons.  Asdrubak has been defeated by Scipio.  He takes refuge in the temple with his wife and sun.  Hiram's force is readying themselves.  The wife of Asdrubak tells him to go back to battle. She says she and their boy are going home.  Asdrubak wants to talk to Scipio.

Hiram says that it has been three days with no sight of the enemy.  So he leads a cavalry attack to find and battle the Romans.  The Romans see the Carthaginians approaching and counter-attack.  In the fighting the leader of the mercenaries is killed.  Scipio is told that Asdrubak wants to talk with him, but Scipio is not interested.  Tsour is killed in battle.  His body is burned on a funeral pyre. 

The news is that the Romans are gathering in the thousands.  Hiram is urged to leave Carthage in his ship with the others, but he is going to stay and fight.  Phegor receives the news that Scipio refuses to receive him because he abominates traitors.  He will take Carthage by himself. 

Hiram talks to his troops and they follow him in another attack on the Romans.  Ophir talks with her father Hermon to ask him about Hiram.  He only knows about Tsour, who died a hero.  Phegor comes to Ophir's father and asks him to convince the Council to surrender to Rome.  Hermon now tells Phegor that he will have Phegor punished as a traitor.  The old man makes Phegor so mad that Phegor kills him.  The dying fellow is actually happy to die and says thank you to Phegor. 

Ophir grieves over her father.  Fulvia arrives and pulls her away saying:  "Come!  Come!" 

Fulvia and Sidone look over the battlefield for Hiram.  They finally find him and he is just barely alive.  Fulvia is so happy to find her only love, but again Hiram only calls out for Ophir.  The men take Hiram, while Ophir runs towards Carthage.  The Roman start burning Carthage to the ground.  People are running from the fierce flames.  Ophir runs to the house of Phegor.  She goes to him saying she is keeping her promise to him.  Phegor says that they have to get out of the house, but Ophir only talks about how she always hated Phegor.  Suddenly, the floor drops out from under them and they fall directly into the fire. 


Good film that keeps your interest, but it has just a little history.  Most the of the film deals with the love triangle consisting of the hero Hiram, the Carthaginian woman Ophir and the Roman woman Fulvia.  The movie also is an action movie with lots of fighting and many twists in the plot.  It's best to read a little history before viewing the movie. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



Historical background:


151 BC — Numidia raids the border with Carthage. Carthage sends 25,000 soldiers to repel the Numidians. The Numidians deliver to Carthage a major military defeat.

Rome is mad at Carthage’s retaliation without Roman consent.

149 BC – Rome declares war against Carthage. The Carthaginians tried to satisfy Roman demands, but all was in vain. Carthage sent 300 children of well-born Carthaginians as hostages to Rome and they handed over all weapons and armor.

Rome inform Carthage that their city would be burned and they could only build another city ten or more miles inland. When the Carthaginians learned of this they abandoned negotiations and the city was immediately besieged, beginning the Third Punic War.

149-146 B.C. – Rome besieges the Carthaginians.  This is known as the Battle of Carthage. 

146 BC (spring) – Roman Scipio Aemilianus (aka Scipio Africanus the Younger) takes Carthage and destroys it on orders from the Roman Senate.  The Roman commander was the younger son of Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus, the conqueror of Macedonia. He was adopted by Publius Cornelius Scipio, the eldest son of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. His name was changed to Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus.


See Hannibal (1960)


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