The Masada Miniseries was a 394 minute miniseries on ABC about 900+ Jewish people who retreat to the mountaintop fortress of Masada after a city wide siege by Roman soldiers in the year 72 AD that including the destruction of two Jewish temples. The power that the Roman Commander had at his disposal had made him confident that he could totally dominate the Jews but he didn't plan on the fortitude of Masada or the determination of the Jews there to remain free of Roman rule. The commander gathered a 5000 soldier army to conquer the fortress the grueling heat with no source of water and long supply lines made the Romans' survival just as questionable as their quarry! Despite the Romans superior numbers and war technology, Masada proved to be a more formidable objective than they ever imagined! It's a classic example of who will win in the end ... might or right.
Masada Miniseries Cast
Peter O'Toole .... General Cornelius Flavius Silva
Peter Strauss .... Eleazar ben Yair
Barbara Carrera .... Sheva
Anthony Quayle .... Rubrius Gallus
David Warner .... Senator Pomponius Falco
Giulia Pagano .... Miriam
Nigel Davenport .... Mucianus
Richard Basehart .... Narrator
Alex Karras .... Roman Soldier
Alan Feinstein .... Aaron
Timothy West .... Emperor Vespasian
Clive Francis .... Attius
Christopher Biggins .... Claudius Albinus
W. Morgan Sheppard .... Roman Sergeant
Vernon Dobtcheff .... Roman Chief Priest
George Innes .... Titus
Norman Rossington .... Maro
Nick Brimble .... Milades
David Mauro .... Epos
Michael Elphick .... Vettius
Christal Blue .... Fatima
Ken Hutchison .... Fronto
Derek Newark .... Engineering Officer
Alexander Peleg .... Zidon
Joe Sagal .... Seth
Paul L. Smith .... Gideon
Diana Webster .... Quintilia
David Opatoshu .... Shimon
Denis Quilley .... General Marcus Quadratus
Warren Clarke .... Plinius
David Hooks .... Kophar
Joseph Wiseman .... Jerahmeel
Kevin McNally .... Norbanus
Anthony Valentine .... Merovius
Patrick Gorman .... Tribune
Ray Smith .... Lentius
Reuven Bar-Yotam .... Joshua
John Terry Bell .... Israeli Master of Ceremonies
Heinz Bernard .... Elder
Richard Pierson .... Ephraim
Michael Schneider .... Surgeon
Michael Shillo .... Ezra
David A. Block .... Reuben
John Phillips .... Centurion
Jack Watson .... Decurion
Masada Miniseries Trivia
The novel, "The Antagonists" by author Ernest Gann was the basis for the Masada Miniseries.
The Jewish "Blessing of the Sun" is recited just once every 28 years. The recital of the prayer is to commemorate the Sun being in the same position in the sky on the same day of the week, at the same hour as it was when it was created. It just so happened that the blessing fell on April 8, 1981, the same day that the final part of the Masada Miniseries aired on ABC! That's kind of ironic since the prayer was delivered at the top of one of the twin towers in New York city that would be ruthlessly attacked 20 years later. Even more ironically, 28 years later the blessing was given at the ancient synagogue at Masada!
Jerry Goldsmith won an Emmy for "Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Limited Series or a Special (Dramatic Underscore)" for his musical achievement on Part 2 of the Masada miniseries. Actor David Warner who portrayed Senator Pomponius Falco also won an Emmy for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special". His fellow nominees were fellow Masada co-star Anthony Quayle, Yuki Meguro and John Rhys-Davies ("Sliders") for their roles on the "Shogun Miniseries" and Andy Griffith ("Matlock") for his part on a TV movie titled "Murder in Texas". The Masada miniseries also was nominated for an additional 11 Emmys and 3 Golden Globes!
The ABC executives were afraid that viewers would not be familiar with the historical background of Masada so they commissioned a 30 minute documentary titled, "Back To Masada" with Peter O'Toole as the host. It explained the story of good vs. evil in the desert, got viewers excited about the tale and aired just prior to the first part of the miniseries. The miniseries was also advertised as an "ABC Novel for Television".
Miniseries were very good for actor Peter Strauss. His starring role on the "Rich Man, Poor Man Miniseries" in 1976 and 1977 moved his career into high gear. Bit parts turned into numerous starring roles on TV series and TV movies! After Masada, Peter also did two more Miniseries, both in 1985, "Tender Is the Night" and "Kane and Abel".
The Roman commander, Flavius Silva, was no fool and saw early on that besieging Masada wouldn't be easy so he wanted to come to a compromise with the Jewish leaders that would allow him to withdraw his soldiers. The swelled-headed idiots in Rome, however, wouldn't hear of it and ordered him to defeat them with no negotiations.
After arriving in the desert to shoot on location the cast and crew quickly learned what the Romans' had faced as far as the temperature was concerned. They decided that it was nearly humanly impossible to film during mid-day so they shot scenes only early in the morning and late at night.
If you look closely you will see a large modern vehicle on a road in the background during the scene where the Jews are climbing the trail up to the top of Masada. OOPS!
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