Il colosso di Rodi (The Colossus of Rhodes ) (1961)
Director: Sergio Leone.
Starring: Rory Calhoun (Dario), Lea Massari (Diala), Georges Marchal (Peliocles), Conrado San Martín (Thar), Ángel Aranda (Koros), Mabel Karr (Mirte), Mimmo Palmara (Ares), Roberto Camardiel (Serse), George Rigaud (Lissipu), Alf Randal.
280 BC a Greek military hero joins a group of rebels to overthrow the tyrannical King Serse on Rhodes in the Hellenistic era
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
The Island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea, 280 B.C. A huge statue strides over the docks of the island. Uncle Lissipu is putting on quite the display for his nephew Dario, a soldier from Athens.
Troops escort the King of Rhodes to the docks. He compliments the sculptor Carete for having built one of the greatest monuments of all time, a huge statue of a man said to be the sun god. It symbolizes that Rhodes now dominates the seas. The dedication ceremony proceeds. The King rises from his chair and bumps the arm of the priest spilling the contents of his plate to the floor. This, says the King, may mean that the gods are not pleased with the statue. Carete says no. The statue was build in honor of the gods. How could they be displeased?
The statue holds a bowl. Two men come out of a door in the upper left chest of the statue and light what they hope will be an eternal flame. A big "aw" goes up from the crowd. A man named Rianos accompanied by a his pretty sister named Mirte rushes the King and tries to stab him to death, but the King's guards stop him. So the would-be assassin runs away. The archers shoot three arrows into his back.
At the wake Mitre cries over the body. She comments what a great waste this was, but another brother, leader of the rebels named Peliocles, says that this is not true. The people of Rhodes do not want slavery. For ten years they had to work on the statue that now stands at the docks. Another man says maybe the Greeks would help them against the King if they could get that fellow Dario to speak for them with the Greeks.
At court there is a big celebration thrown for the honored guest Dario. A servant brings the King a drink of wine. The King has him drink first from the glass. The servant does so. As he walks away, he drops over dead.
Dario has taken a liking to a pretty woman named Diala. In the garden with her, Diala runs from him. Dario gives chase, but can't seem to find her. He walks amidst the mummified remains of past royalty. He finally finds her. Dario starts to recite poetry to her when she flips the wall on him. Dario finds himself in another room with Diala laughing on the other side. It sounds like lions are nearby. Dario soon finds them in a cage. Also there is a big gorilla.
Phoenicia and Rhodes are in the process of making an alliance that will give them full control of the seas. But, what will Greece do when Phoenicia pirates Greek ships and takes refuge in Rhodes? As they speak, Thar, the second in command to the King, opens one of the walls and finds Dario there. They ask him how he got there and Dario has to admit he was chasing a young woman. They tell him to continue his pursuit and he does.
Two rebels grab Dario saying they need to talk to him elsewhere. Dario frees himself from them and the fight is on. He knocks out one of the men by hitting him over the head with a huge vase. The other he knocks down with a blow to the man's back. The fight finally stops when Peliocles hits Dario on the chin while holding in his hand the handle of his sword. Uncle finally wakes up and sounds the gong for the guards. The rebels have to beat a hasty retreat leaving an unconscious Dario behind..
The next day Dario tries to sail back to Athens, but the orders are that no one may leave the island unless properly authorized. Mitre goes to speak with Dario. She keeps showing up wherever he goes. He finally follows her. She offers him passage to Greece. Dario says he will take his chances with the court. Mitre says that if he has no luck, then go to the pier and speak to the man who will be holding a lighted torch.
Dario asks Thar why he was stopped from leaving Rhodes? The official tells Dario that he simply cannot leave. Dario becomes irritated and says he will do it his own way. Diala calls him over and Dario tells her he's leaving. She asks him to forgive her for the little joke she played on him. Dario replies that he is not leaving the island because of her joke, but because he wants to see his own land again.
Dario goes looking for the man with the lighted torch. A man with connections to the boat signals Dario to come over to him. He takes Dario over to what is a rebel ship. Peliocles welcomes him aboard. A rebel kills one guard and Mitre gets another guard to follow her and a rebel knocks the guard out with a club. The ship slowly moves forward out of the harbor. When the ship comes beneath the Colossus of Rhodes, someone pulls a lever and the fire in the huge bowl is dropped onto the ship. The men have to jump into the sea to avoid being burned alive.
Dario is questioned. Thar says that the rebels gave Dario a document of lies to take to Greece with him. The rebels are hoping to get aid from Greece. Dario swears he doesn't know what the official is talking about -- he was only trying to get back to Athens. In the document, however, Dario is named as the rebels' representative. Dario is taken down into the dungeon where some of the rebels are being tortured. Acid is being dropped on them. Peliocles says that Dario is innocent. He knows none of the rebels. They put a bell over the body of Peliocles and ring it over and over again. When the bell is removed, Peliocles. bleeding from his ears, will still not tell his torturers anything.
There are so many slaves coming into Rhodes that people are beginning to wonder what is going on. There so many that not even the King could use them all. Mathos, still another brother to Mitre, follows the most recent group of slaves. He wants to see where they are keeping the slaves. Maybe his brothers will be there. He finds out that the slaves are not slaves at all, but Phoenician soldiers. Their leader Sirione is greeted by Thar. He will lead the soldiers coming from Phoenicia. They are planning a coup d'etat to get rid of the current King. The men will stay below the Temple of Baal until it is time to strike.
Mathos starts to return to tell his sister, but he runs into Thiel, who tells Mathos that all the rebels, including his brothers, will be sacrificed to Baal this day. The rebels, including the innocent Dario, are brought into the temple. Dancing girls perform a dance before the sacrifice. Dario is taken to see Diala. She tells Dario to tell them everything he knows. The problem is that he doesn't know anything. He says goodbye to Diala. When the first man is to be sacrificed there is an insurrection with help coming from the outside. The rebels win and then head for the caves in the Stone Desert. Horses are waiting for them outside.
At the hide-out all the chains are taken off the freed rebels. Dario goes over to talk with Mitre. Mathos tells the men about the hundreds of Phoenicians staying below the temple. Peliocles comes up with a plan. They will get into the Colossus and pull the lever that opens the gates imprisoning Rhode's best soldiers. Dario is doubtful of the success of the mission. During the night he takes off. Mitre follows him. He goes to see Diala. He kisses her and she responds. Dario then tells her that he must see her father in order to save Rhodes from the traitor Thar. Her father is the only one who knows the secrets of the Colossus. Diala agrees to take him to her father in the Colossus. They kiss once more. Mitre sees this and is upset by it.
Diala and Dario climb to the top of the Colossus. She shows Dario the first control room and he is amazed at its sophistication. Dario pulls a lever and a side door opens. Thar and his men are there. Dario starts running up the stairs as fast as he can. He lets himself down onto the shoulder of the Colossus. There he fights Thar's soldiers. He can't defeat all of them so he dives into the sea. Diala and Thar learn that Dario escaped. She is angry that Dario got away. Diala's father appears and says he will stop them from betraying Rhodes. The soldiers kill Diala's father. She sheds not one tear for him.
Dario swims to the beach shore. He works his way up into the mountains and finds most of the men at the hide-out dead. Diario sees Mirte and goes to her. She steps back from him and starts to run, but he stops her. She blames him for the disaster. She says they took Peliocles and his uncle Lissipo. The executions of her brothers will take place this evening. Mathos is ready to kill Dario, but Dario kicks hot cinders from a nearby fire into his eyes. Dario jumps on a horse and rides away. Mitre and Mathos go after him.
In the arena the rebels are being tortured. Peliocles and another rebel are being dragged around the arena by a chariot. Dario heads into the arena, followed by Mitre and Mathos. A man hangs over a group of lions below. An archer starts to cut the ropes holding the man with his arrows, but the rebel is able to swing himself onto the bar above him. When the archer tries to whip him down, the rebel grabs the whip and pulls the man into the lion's den. The rebel then frees Peliocles and the other rebel. A chariot is brought in to be used to kill the three rebels, but Dario jumps down into the arena and jumps up onto the chariot. He knocks the driver out of the chariot.
Dario tells everyone about the traitors. The King starts to object but receives an arrow to the chest. Mass hysteria breaks out as the audience is cut down by the archers and then by swordsmen. Peliocles tells the rebels that the only chance they have is to get over to the Colossus and pull the lever setting free the soldiers of Rhodes from imprisonment. They all start heading over to the Colossus. Thar sends up the signal to start the revolt when the archers let fly with their lighted arrows. Diala is very pleased for she will soon be the Queen of Rhodes.
Dario and Mathos enter the Colossus. Up and up they go. Meanwhile the rebels approach the prison from the sea. Dario and Mathos kill three guards. Thar and his soldiers start up the stairs after them. Dario opens the gate to the prisons from the Colossus and the rebels rush in to kill the guards. Thar kills Mathos and Thar's soldiers capture Dario. Thar tells his men to kill him, but Diala stops them. She wants him to suffer more. The rebels and the soldiers of Rhodes construct a battering ram to break open the doors to the Colossus. Thar loads the catapults with hot molten lead and tosses it onto the men below. Peliocles tells everyone to take cover.
Over a thousand Phoenician ships approach Rhodes. Thar says that now Rhodes and Phoenicia will be the rulers of the world. But one thing they didn't count on was an earthquake. Thar's soldiers get scared and rush to get out of the Colossus. Thar's henchman tries to stop them but somebody kills him with a sword to the chest. Now Thar starts thinking about a way to escape. He wants to get on the a Phoenician ship and be taken to Phoenicia. He runs out from the Colossus. Now it' just Diala and Dario in the Colossus.
The soldiers and rebels of Rhodes start killing the Phoenician soldiers. In a swordfight Thar is killed by one of Mitre's brothers.
Diala picks up a knife and approaches Dario. She cuts him loose. The earthquake comes again. A huge machine falls on Diala and she dies. Dario gets out of the Colossus. The Colossus falls over into the sea. The buildings of Rhodes start to fall down. Many people are killed by the falling blocks of stone. Dario is reunited with his uncle and Mitre. They grab some nearby horses and start heading to the Stone Desert. The huge Colossus teeters and then falls into the sea.
Dario and Mitre watch as the city burns. Dario decides to stay in Rhodes and help build it up with his woman Mitre.
A pretty good movie. The emphasis is on love and action set in the days when the statue called the Colossus of Rhodes stood at the docks of the island of Rhodes. It actually was only 32 meters tall, but the director Sergio Leone made it much larger for the movie. By the way, this was his first credited directing of a film. Of course, latter he became famous for his spaghetti Westerns. The love story wasn't that great because the hero Dario divided his time between two women: Diala and Mitre. Rory Calhoun as Dario seemed to be just too thin for a fighting hero and in white knee high boots, at times he looked a bit effeminate.
Patrick L. Cooney, Ph. D.
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