Il Colosso di Rodi
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Il Colosso di Rodi (English title: The Colossus of Rhodes) is a 1961 sword and sandal film directed by Sergio Leone. It was Leone's first work as a credited director, in a genre where he already had worked before (as a secondary director for Ben-Hur, and Quo Vadis?). It is by far the least known of his films. It is also notable for being his only film without an Ennio Morricone score.
A Greek military hero named Darios (Rory Calhoun) visits his uncle Lissipu (George Rigaud) in the island of Rhodes in the year 280 BC. Rhodes has just finished constructing an enormous colossal statue of the god Apollo to guard its harbor and is planning an alliance with Phoenicia, which would be hostile to Greece.
Darios flirts with the beautiful Diala (Lea Massari), daughter of the statue's mastermind, Carete (Félix Fernández), while becoming involved with a group of rebels headed by Peliocles (Georges Marchal). These rebels seek to overthrow the tyrannical king Serse (Roberto Camardiel); but so does Serse's evil second-in-command, Thar (Conrado San Martín). He has Phoenician soldiers smuggled into Rhodes as slaves, and his men occupy the Colossus to secure safe entrance for the Phoenician fleet.
The rebels learn of this plan and decide to apply to the Greek for help; Darios, who is forbidden to leave Rhodes as he is suspected a spy, is to serve as an unwitting message carrier. But as they try to exit the harbor under the cover of night, they are foiled by the Colossus's defensive weaponry and arrested; Darios is of course convicted as a fellow conspirator. However, just before the captives are to be executed, the rest of the rebels break them out.
In their hideout, Peliocles decides that the only way to stop the invasion is to control the Colossus and free their fellow rebels who have already been captured and sentenced to work as slaves beneath the Colossus; the release mechanism for the dungeons is located in the statue itself. Darios realizes that without reconnaissance the mission is doomed to fail and tries to enlist Diala's aid. Unfortunately, he foolishly tells her about the rebels' hideout. Diala, who longs for power, betrays Darios and has Thar have the rebels nearly wiped out - with the exceptions of Mirte (Mabel Karr) and Koros (Ángel Aranda), Peliocles' sister and brother, who have managed to hide.
Peliocles and his men are captured and forced to provide amusement in the local arena; but just when Darios arrives to publicly expose the traitor's plot, Thar executes his coup and kills Serse and his retainers. The rebels immediately set out to carry out their plan, but the rebellion seems doomed to fail: Darios is captured while he tries to work the release mechanism to the dungeons, and Koros, who accompanies him, is killed. An all-out assault of the rebels on the Colossus is foiled by its formidable arsenal, which forces them to retreat into the city.
Thar's plan seems to go smoothly until the soldiers kill Diala's father, who does not want to see his life's work abused, and an earthquake and a violent storm hit the island just as the enemy fleet is visible on the horizon. Thar and his men flee the Colossus when a tremor shakes the structure violently, only to be slain by the rebels in the city streets; Diala, plagued with remorse, frees Darios but is soon afterwards killed by falling debris. As the quake continues, the Colossus finally topples over and crashes into the harbor bay.
After the fury of nature has passed, Darios and Mirte meet Lissipu outside the ruined city. Lissipu remarks that Darios is now free to leave, but his nephew announces that he will marry Mirte and stay in Rhodes to help make the island peaceful again.