David e Golia

The Ark is lost, “the spirit of the Lord hath departed from Saul,” Israel has no weapons.

Samuel, “a tattered rag upon a stick,” (the high priest kisses the hem of his garment) enters like the ghost of Marley. “It was a needful sacrifice,” says Saul, “to make peace. I feared the people.” And like Herod, “Who is that man, who shall be king after me?”

David is of the Michelangelo type. His girl is struck by lightning, to give him something to think about.

Abner and Merab have plans.

Asrod’s captains shall be kings of Israel (Samuel tells the tale of corrupt judges and rulers), the king of the Philistines shall hold sway over them all, “the king of kings”. Armored chariots with lance-wheels are shown to him in scale models like the ones in Annakin’s Battle of the Bulge. The main secret weapon is Goliath, induced with gold and girls to join Asrod’s service. A test of strength is proffered at the feast of Dagon, a statue of the god stands cast in bronze, a soldier with spear in hand, fire lights his hollow helmet, he receives the burnt offering of an octopus. A square stone slab last lifted by Samson is placed atop tall Goliath, he bears it up above his head.

Jonathan has ceased to hope, but “even by main force if it is needed,” David hopes to see the salvation of Israel.

An emissary is sent by Abner to ransom the Ark for “all the gold in Israel,” Goliath slaughters the man unheard. And now David is sent.

He is melancholy, so is Michal. The shepherd is accused of ambition by Merab, of aspiring to love a king’s daughter.

David plays the harp, Saul soliloquizes. “Samuel is dead, am I that man who must fight Goliath?”

Samuel’s voice comforts David. Michal is fearful, David rides toward the Philistine court and meets fleeing refugees. “It’s the end of Israel,” says an old man who walks with a stick, “a great misfortune has befallen us, the Philistines are destroying everything.”

The massed armies of the Philistines come in droves and phalanxes, by thousands. Jonathan addresses the thin army of Israel. He is fearless, plans to attack. David is amazed. Jerusalem is undefended, attack is suicide. He rides to Asrod for a parley, as once before to Saul.

The wisdom of David is renowned even among the Philistines, “useless, stupid wisdom.” Asrod says, “Thou art the one who calms down that old fool Saul?” He spits on the name. David demands the Ark be returned, orders Asrod out of Israel, “God wills it so.” The king replies, “My only god is gold, and my only law is Goliath.” He orders a solo combat.

“Look at the sky, Goliath,” says David, “the vultures augur ill for thee!” Asrod ceases to laugh when his champion is vanquished, but reneges and orders his horsemen to charge. The armies meet and clash, Asrod challenges Jonathan and is killed. The Philistines withdraw.

A triumph is led to the royal palace in Jerusalem. Inside the darkened throne room, Abner spears a wineskin on the steps below the throne. Saul accuses Abner’s two lieutenants of plotting an assassination. The placement of the wineskin, Abner says, proves that only the enemies of Saul are intended. This is a ruse for the lieutenants’ benefit, Saul has ordered David’s murder.

The triumphal procession enters, David bears the sword of Goliath to Saul, Abner prepares to strike “down from on high.” Saul shoots an arrow from his bow, Abner falls to the palace floor, Merab screams. She has pleaded in vain with Abner to renounce the murder and leave with her.

“Thou hast slain thy evil spirit,” says Jonathan. “No,” Merab answers, “only Abner. Saul’s evil spirit dies only with Saul.”

“I know my destiny,” Saul proclaims, “and I know the destiny of my people Israel.” He has sinned, he asks forgiveness, gives the hand of Michal to David in marriage. “Blessed be thou my son David, for thou shalt do great things.”

The film is rapid, this accounts for its poor reputation even among Italian TV critics. The Anglo-American dialogue is first-rate. The commercially available reproduction is of poor quality.

Orson Welles leads the very fine cast. A Beaver-Champion Attractions, Inc. presentation.