Samson and Delilah (TV Mini-Series 1996) Poster

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When the Son of the Sun met Desire
Chip_douglas18 June 2004
Although their story in the Old Testament only spans three chapters in the Book of Judges, the popular tale of Samson and Delilah is stretched out into a three hour entry mini series here. All the characters (many not mentioned by name in the scriptures) are elaborated upon, as is the situation between the Israelites and the Philistines. The Gaza court is well (if a bit predictably) portrayed: Michael Gambon as wise King Hanun is constantly bickering with his hotheaded (and red bearded) son Sidqa (Ben Becker). Well cast Liz Hurley plays the part of Delilah both slutty and posh as the king's niece, while top billed Dennis Hopper portrays the smart and sarcastic General Tariq. Hopper gets some of the best lines, but fails to give them that George Sanders delivery and is the only one looking out of place in these settings and costumes.

Delilah only really figures in the last part of Samson's story, but there are enough scenes featuring her and the Philistines to justify her name in the title. Actually, the two main characters almost meet in part one, where she turns out to be the main reason why Samson fought that animatronic lion from Jim Henson's Creature Shop. In the title role, Eric Thal is a virtual babe magnet himself, rescuing the outspoken Naomi (Jale Arikan) before choosing a Philistine bride (Deborah Caprioglio) to the dismay of his parents (reliable Diana Rigg and Paul Freeman). Screenwriter Alan Scott put great emphasis on Samson's search for a purpose in life, making him comes across a very modern (i. e. constantly worried) hero.

One point repeatedly made in the Book of Judges is the lawless nature of this time period (between 1200 - 1000 b.c.). This is addressed in a new sub plot concerning the brothers Jehiel and Amram. They betray Samson in order to become rulers themselves, leading to the familiar scene involving the jawbone of an ass. Most of these action sequences are filmed with skewed angles, making Samson look even more like a comic book superhero. To this effect they could not show him mishandling 300 foxes to burn down enemy crops (as it was written). Unfortunately the chapter about tearing the town gates from their hinges is more implied than shown, but this does lead to an interesting bit of foreshadowing for Dennis Hopper's character in the temple.

Director Nic Roeg makes effective use of flashbacks during two crucial scenes, adding greater meaning to both of them. First the love scene between Samson and Delilah is interwoven with scenes from the lion fight and secondly Samson relives his ultimate betrayal when forced to 'witness' the defeat of the Israelite army. The latter scene also resolves the plot strand concerning Jehiel and Amram in a satisfactory way and indeed every character arc is neatly resolved before the end. Shame about all those bouncing foam pillars during the climax though.

8 out of 10
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Powerful giant conquered by lustful woman...; generally a very good film!
marcin_kukuczka3 May 2006
Biblical epics, since there have been many of them made so far, can be divided into three main subcategories: the high camp spectacles, the loose and distorted interpretations, and the truthful biblical productions. While the best example of the first group are the films made by the showman named Cecil B DeMille, the best example of the third group is SAMSON AND DELILAH (1996), one of the new international biblical productions. Among other new productions, including ABRAHAM (1994) with Richard Harris, MOSES (1995) with Ben Kingsley and JEREMIAH (1998) with Patrick Dempsey, this movie stands out as particularly entertaining, not because it is directed by Nicholas Roeg (who is a good director), but because of its very specific content, exceptionally interesting and up-to-date.

The story of Samson is the story of strength, calling, love, suffering, revenge, lust, treason, and, finally, forgiveness. When I was a child and listened to biblical stories, I was particularly touched by this very one. Then, as a boy, I was interested primarily in Samson's strength. It appealed to me as a story of a man who could win alone over the army. Yet, when I grew up, I noticed that there is something more than the story of a giant. I noticed some remarkable psychological aspects of his life story. Samson loved his people, the Israellites, but, since he loved the stranger flesh, lust drove him to his enemies, the Phillistines. When lust turned into love, treason appeared... and we all know how miserable his fate with short hair and blinded eyes was...

This very specific content is a pearl for making a movie. While Cecil B DeMille focused primarily on spectacle in his 1948 movie, Nicholas Roeg focuses on the psychological aspect. In this film, a viewer may lose the time distance because of some very profound, universal thoughts presented. "I think that I know myself so well but sometimes, I think that I do not know myself whatsoever" ... The best and richest reflections are the ones by Generale Tariq (Dennis Hopper), a Phillistine, who, though being an eminent person on the royal court at Gaza, claims to be the wrong person in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Although he is reasonable, he doubts his deeds and "the great victory" over such a weak enemy. He is also the only Phillistine who predicts the end - "Go, boy! Leave the gates of Gaza immediately!" which he says just before the temple falls, and it falls so realistically in the film! This role is wonderfully played by Dennis Hopper. Delilah (Liz Hurley) first sees the benefits galore from betraying Samson, but as their love proceeds, she hesitates to dare treason. In the end, she totally regrets but it is too late... Prince Sidqa (Ben Becker) is a proud young man who, unlike his teacher of fighting Generale Tariq (Dennis Hopper), sees the victory in slaying rather than tactics. The Israellites are rather primitive people, not only because they don't use iron, the new weapon of their masters, but because they cannot manage alone, without Samson. "God desires war now", which they shout after the claimed sign in the sky. Yet, there are proper characters. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Phillistines are showed as people searching for something rather than knowing everything. Therefore, the reality of that period is very accurate in the film in spite of the fact that some characters are fictitious.

The performances are particularly remarkable. Dennis Hopper, already mentioned, is very appealing in the role of Tariq; Liz Hurley is a beautiful Delilah with a huge potential in acting talent; Eric Thal is accurate as Samson since he looks very good and portrays a real man of strength betrayed and conquered; Ben Becker gives an authentic performance as Prince Sidqa expressing his pride and extremely sick ambition; yet, Michael Gambon portrays the king, Re Hamun, as someone who is not an absolute monarch but someone open to advice, particularly the advice of Tariq. Therefore, SAMSON AND DELILAH may be considered to be a masterwork of performances.

The reality of the biblical period (more than 1,000 years before Christ) in the times of judges is presented accurately. The costumes as well as some details from people's every day life make a wonderful journey to that, such a distant period (consider the iron used by Phillistines). There is also a historical emphasis on different lifestyles and believes of primitive at that time but monotheistic Israellites and modern but polytheistic Phillistines.

See SAMSON AND DELILAH. You don't have to be a fan of the Bible! The story is so great that it cannot be treated as the biblical story only. And that is what the film does. Strength, power, lust, murder, revenge, treason, forgiveness... Isn't that universal? 7/10
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Passable rendition based on the mythical brave hero Samson who vanquished Philistines
ma-cortes23 April 2019
So-so rendition upon the Biblical story dealing with the long haired strongman who fatally falls in love with tempter Delilah . Middling rendition based on the bouncing judge Samson (Eric Thal) who defeated Philistines, but was betrayed by Delilah (Elizabeth Hurley) robbing him his strenght by shearing his hair . Samson is born and as foretold he grows into a boy (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) with amazing strength. As time passes, Samson becomes an attractive young man and young women begin to interest him more and more. Samson was a valiant and hunk judge from the tribe of Manasseh. His violent and troublesome existence is told in the Bible, books 13 to 16, book of Judges. Here are narrated the usual episodes about his life as his loving affairs, fight against a roaring lion , removing enormous doors, firing land and harvests, his impressive battle thousands of Philistine soldiers by using a donkey jaw , falling down the temple of Dagon along with the giant sculpture of the pagan idol and many other things . Samson was the strongest man alive in Israel , fighting his two main enemies , ruler Re Hamun (Michael Gambon ) and Generale Tariq (Dennis Hopper) and he unfortunately falls in love for a Philistine girl, but after being rejected by the mighty hero, Delilah discovers his dark secret based on an incredible strength provided by the hair, as she informs his enemies and while shearing his curls. According to the biblical account, Samson was given supernatural strength by God in order to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats such as killing a lion, slaying an entire army with only the jawbone of an ass, and destroying a pagan temple. Samson had two vulnerabilities, however: his attraction to untrustworthy women such as Delilah and his hair, without which he was powerless. One day the Philistine leaders assembled in a temple for a religious sacrifice to Dagon, one of their most important deities, for having delivered Samson into their hands. They summon Samson so that people can gather on the roof to watch. Once inside the temple, Samson, his hair having grown long again, asks the servant who is leading him to the temple's central pillars if he may lean against them . He pulled the two pillars together , and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people . Thus he killed many more as he died than while he lived .

Known Biblical episode, being here decently narrated with some nice scenes and other ones extremely absurd and disconcerting. Spectacularly horny as well as corny tale that uses the habitual landscapes from Ouarzazate, Morocco . Regularly starred by Eric Thal as the corpulent Samson, and gorgeous, charming Elizabeth Hurley playing the tempter , vindictive vixen Delilah. The movie boasts a good support cast, such as : Michael Gambon as the mean and powerful Re Hamun , Dennis Hopper who steals the show as a nefarious villain, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a very young Sansone , Alessandro Gassman, Daniel Massey, Paul Freeman, Diana Rigg ,Debora Caprioglio , Sebastian Knapp , Pinkas Braun , among others . The motion picture was middlingly directed by Nicolas Roeg . Nicolas was an expert cameraman and filmmaker , he went to Australia for his solo debut as director Walkabout (1971) , which was also his last film as cinematographer, and throughout the next decade he produced a world-class body of work Don't look now (1973); The man who fell to Earth (1976); Bad timing (1980)) that revealed his uniquely off-kilter view of the world, expressed through fragmented, dislocated images and a highly original yet strangely accessible approach to narrative .

Other films dealing with this Biblic figure are the following ones : Samson and Delilah 1950 by Cecil B DeMille with Victor Mature, Hedy Lamarr, Angela Lansbury, Henry Wilconson. I grandi condottieri or The Biblical Judges 1965 by Marcello Baldi and Francisco Perez Dolz with Anton Geesink, Rosalba Neri, Ivo Garrani, Barta Barri, Fernando Rey. 1984 by Lee Philips with Anthony Hamilton, Belinda Bauer, Max Von Sidow, Stephen Match . Last one was Samson (2018) modern version of the Biblical romance by Bruce MacDonald and Gabriel Sabloff with Taylor James , Caitlin Leahy , Billy Zane , Jackson Rathbone , Greg Kriek , Auret , Lindsay Wagner and Rutger Hauer . Furthermore, this huge figure starred a lot of Sword and Sandals movies or Peplum, usually played by Steve Reeves, Reg Park, Alan Steel, Brad Harris, Gordon Scott and many others.
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Spectacular showing of the biblical muscle man...
mtr011826 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When I first saw this Made For TV version of Samson and Delilah, I enjoyed it's background and also some of the details Nicholas Roeg decided to include. I liked the way it followed the other Bible Series that Lorenzo Minoli and RAI-It produced in the late 1990's. Eric Thals' Samson was really impact-full and stellar even though my hat goes off to Victor Mature's effort in Demille's 1949 film. What really was outstanding was in the temple scene Samson yells "At last, o God of Israel!" when he destroys his enemies plus himself due to being blind. Elizabeth Hurley's Delilah was not that bad even though perhaps Jessica Alba would have done a glamorous job. Too bad that she wasn't offered the role.Anyone who enjoyed this film may want to watch the 1984 TV version with Anthony Hamilton,Belinda Bauer, and Max Von Sydow.
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Sigh... Please Read before watching
terryhyche-435987 February 2016
This movie can be graded differently. If you are looking for a movie that stays true to the content of the bible, this movie is very subpar. They rewrite many scenes of the bible. I understand maybe adding scenes (like filler scenes) but to take parts from the bible and then re-write them can be upsetting. If you are looking for a movie that somewhat tells the story as a whole of sampson, then i can see giving it 5 or 6 stars. I unfortunately saw the 1949 version and because of such, I couldn't help but compare these two, and it made this movie look like a kids play. Three boring hours this movie was. Two of the three hours was pure talk.
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SAMSON AND DELILAH (TV) (Nicolas Roeg, 1996) **
Bunuel19768 April 2007
This is the third version of the Biblical tale that I've watched - or fourth, if you include the peplum SAMSON (1961); the best of the lot, clearly, remains Cecil B. De Mille's 1949 spectacular.

Since this is part of a series of made-for-TV films highlighting famous stories from the Bible, one is surprised to find a celebrated and talented director such as Nicolas Roeg involved - though they all managed to attract a vast array of international and upcoming stars. That said, Roeg's career has been steadily on a downhill slide ever since the mid-80s - surely one of the saddest declines in recent memory! This film was actually written by the director's frequent collaborator Allan Scott (including the masterpiece DON'T LOOK NOW [1973]), but the magic is seldom in evidence on this particular occasion - and the end result is as bland as its TV origins suggest...

Even so, it's not entirely worthless if clearly overly-padded at a length of nearly 3 hours: while the look of the film is curiously drab, the star cast offers compensations - best of all, perhaps, are Dennis Hopper (as a prescient Philistine General), Michael Gambon (the Philistine ruler) and Daniel Massey (as a learned Jewish elder). Still, though Liz Hurley is ideally cast as Delilah, her performance is too modern - and, consequently, the character's ultimate redemption lacks conviction; as for Eric Thal's Samson, the script may have made him more conflicted than Victor Mature's take in the De Mille version - but again, rather than evoke the traits one should associate with this Biblical character, the actor's boyish looks merely bring to mind the pumped-up heroes of juvenile sword-and-sorcery films and TV series of recent vintage...

Incidentally, I only rented this because my father had been whining about "The Bible Collection" on DVD for months (I brought him MOSES [1995] at the same time but, even if it featured Ben Kingsley, Frank Langella and Christopher Lee, opted not to watch it myself); eventually, he too - who had caught many of Hollywood's classic historical epics when new - was ultimately unimpressed, and readily admitted that these newer incarnations offered no competition!
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A Wonderful Telefilm About One Great Judge Of The Bible
Desertman8414 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Samson and Delilah is a German/Italian/American TV movie that tells the story of a man chosen by God among the Israelites to destroy the Philistines.It stars Eric Thal and Elizabeth Hurley as Samson and Delilah respectively together with Dennis Hopper as the Philistine leader General Tariq.This 3-hour telemovie based on the three chapters of the Book Of Judges from Chapters 13 to 16 was narrated by Max Von Sydow.

The telefilm starts with the story of Mara and Manoah,an upright Israelite coup who were blessed by God with a child after many years of prayer to the Lord.The were given a son and they called him Samson.He grows up as a shepherd but he possessed an unusual strength who could battle and kill the Philistines on his own.Then,he falls in love with a lovely Philistine woman named Delilah,who ultimately betrayed him.The film ended when Samson became a slave of the Philistines and was given by God an opportunity to redeem himself when he regained his strength and managed kill many Philistines which is more than he ever killed during his lifetime including Delilah.This led to the liberation of the Israelites.

The TV movie maybe three hours but it was definitely a good film about Samson and Delilah for multiple reasons.First,the acting was brilliant.Thal was commendable as Samson while Hurley was gorgeous and luscious as the courtesan Delilah.Their romance that consists of love,seduction,deception and betrayal was definitely interesting.The themes of faith in God was also looked upon especially on the parents of Samson who managed to have their prayers answered after years of difficulty of having a child.Other themes such as arrogance;the burden of having an unusual gift;being of service to God;learning humility and being forgiven by God will be learned from the character and life experiences of Samson.Despite the fact the writers added many things to the story of Samson like the addition of Naomi,it still provides us a great story about one of the great judges or heroes from the Bible.
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