Il terrore dei barbari (Goliath and the Barbarians) (1959)

 

 

 

 

Director:     .

Starring:      Steve Reeves (Emiliano, a.k.a. "Goliath"), Chelo Alonso (Landa), Bruce Cabot (Alboino), Giulia Rubini (Lidia), Arturo Dominici (Svevo), Gino Scotti (Count Daniele), Livio Lorenzon (Igor), Luciano Marin (Marco), Andrea Checchi (Delfo,Londa's father), Carla Calò (Bruno's Mother), Fabrizio Capucci (Bruno), Clara Coppola, Cesare Fantoni, Carla Foscari, Veriano Ginesi (Barbarian Fighter).

Lombard invasion of Italy; the Lombards were a Germanic tribe who ruled a Kingdom in Italy from 568 to 774

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

"In the year 568 AD Alboino, ruthless King of the Longobards, descended upon Italy, his savage warrior bands invading the country from nearby Canolia.  The barbarian hordes were composed of many races and, united only by their desire for conquest, they inundated the peninsula from Chividale to Cruelito, initiating a period of domination which was to last for more than 200 years.  This is the story of the man who rose up against them.  The young giant who struck terror into the hearts of the invaders and assumed the name Goliath to match his size and feats of strength.  As the warrior bands descended upon the city of Verona, a trio of messengers were sent to meet them to plead for mercy and ask that their city be spared in return for its surrender."

The barbarians reacted by killing the three messengers.

"The barbarian horde swept on and the rape of Verona had begun." 

Of course, the attack was unexpected and the people panic and start running for their lives.  The barbarians start sexually assaulting the women.  One woman is able to push her attacker off her and she runs to the safety of her home.  She runs into her father and tells him they must flee, but father tells her, Sabina, to take his horse and go warn her brother, Emiliano (aka, Goliath).  So Sabina goes for the horse.  The barbarians break the door down and father kills one of the horde, but is overcome by two other barbarians.  The leader, Igor, says not to kill the father, but then he grabs a spear and throws it into the chest of father.  And he laughs. 

In the mountains Sabina calls out for Emiliano.  Emiliano hears her and with his companion Marco rides toward the sound of her voice.  Soon all three riders are headed for Verona.  They find father dead leaning against a tree. 

A burial service is held.  Emiliano says that his father was the king of the village and died trying to protect the people.  He then calls for revenge. 

The barbarians are celebrating the conquest of Verona.  A dancing girl named Landa performs for the crowd.  After her performance the leader of the barbarians drinks to her grace and beauty.  The King says to Delfo that he is a fortunate man to have such a daughter.  Delfo says he would rather have had a son.  Igor compliments Landa but she is not interested in him. 

Alboino speaks alone with his commanders saying that they next will take Milano and then Pavia.  Then Pavia will be his capital.  He then tells Igor that he will stay here and will have the entire northern region under his command.  Furthermore, he wants a province assigned to Duke Delfo, a Slavonian.  And there's another task:  send reinforcements to the garrison Fais because they have to hold it as it's the only opening to Panonia, the key to their stronghold. 

Two barbarians are riding through the woods.  One of them screams out in pain.  The other rider jumps off his horse to see what's the matter.  He finds the man who screamed, but he is dead.  And now he is face to face with Emiliano who is wearing a fearful-looking mask.  Using just one hand, Emiliano strangles the surviving rider.

Emiliano rides straight through a group of barbarian knocking several of them off their horses.  They start chasing after Emiliano, but he suddenly stops his horse, turns it around and starts attacking the barbarians again.  They become frightened and ride away from the large man in a mask. 

At their night fire, with a club Emiliano attacks the men sitting around warming themselves and kills quite a few of them.  He jumps on the back of one of their horses and rides off. 

As ruler of the northern area, Igor is a brutal and vicious commander.  He beats any offenders with his rolled up whip.  Landa shows up and Igor tells everyone to leave the room.  He then tells her that she has been ignoring him.  He suggests that she be nice to him or he could grant her father Delfo one of the worst provinces in the northern area.  Or she could be good to him and her father could be given the very pleasant Verona province.  At the moment, however, Landa wants to keep ignoring Igor.

A messenger from Fais arrives.  The message is that Fais is in confusion.  They have been attacked by a Goliath who roars like a lion and has the strength of ten men.  Igor starts beating the messenger saying that they in Fais are all cowards.  He says he will come and see this Goliath for himself.  But Igor is not going to confront the giant by himself.  He gives the assignment to Delfo. 

The barbarian in Fais has constructed a fort to help keep Goliath away.  Emiliano has a good laugh over this. 

Igor's right-hand man Svevo goes to Fais to make sure the giant is taken care of.  There he tries to hook up with Landa, but she wants nothing to do with him.  Later her father scolds his daughter for being so rough in the way she brushes off the most important men.  Delfo asks her to be prudent because Svevo is a spy for Igor. 

Emiliano has his hearty band hidden away in a safe spot.  He needs to know how many sentinels does the fort have?  So he decides to go to the fort on market day when the fort gates are open wide. 

One of the women, however, Sabina, goes to the fort on market day to do a little spying for Emiliano. One of the barbarians takes andinterest in the pretty woman and says he will show her a secret way in and out of the fort.  Sabina goes with the man, but all he is interested in is raping the woman.  Luckily, Landa comes along and chases the man away.  Landa says they shouldn't allow the villagers to come into the fort for they are all spies for the enemy.  Furthermore, she says the local woman Sabina is too pretty to be coming to market day stirring up the men. 

The local farmers don't have all that much grain and other products, but Delfo gives the order for his men to seize all their foodstuffs.  A farm woman of farm cries over the loss of all their food.  He son Bruno tells her not to cry and he will see what he can do about all this.  He goes over to the horses pulling the wagon and cuts the ropes.  Now he gives a signal to Emiliano in his disguise.  The barbarians start to leave but the horses just take off pulling the driver out of his seat and dragging him along the ground after them.  The other barbarians go to rescue the driver.  At this time Emiliano descends on the barbarians.  Using an axe he kills or wounds most of the men.  Meanwhile the farmers hitch up the wagon to some other horses and follow after the triumphant Emiliano. 

Learning about the latest attack from Goliath, Svevo demands that Delfo start carrying out reprisals against the populace. 

Landa goes out hunting.  She is caught in one of the traps set out by Emiliano and his men and women.  Sabina and Emiliano hear a woman cry out in pain and they go to see what's the matter.  Sabina tells Emiliano that this woman is the daughter of the man in charge of the province of the barbarians.  Sabina slightly taps the left cheek of Landa until she awakens.  Sabina immediately tells her that she is among friends.  Landa then asks who is this man.  Emiliano says he's just a wood cutter.  He will take her to the road where she can walk home.  Emiliano breaks the news to her that her horse was hurt in the fall and he had to kill it.  Landa starts to walk but soon faints.  Emiliano carries her to shelter from the pouring rain that begin. 

Under shelter Emiliano says that the barbarians came into this peaceful valley and burned and destroyed farms and villages.  Landa knows from the way that he speaks that he is no woodcutter and demands to know who is he really.  He won't answer her.  The rain stops and he tells Landa that she is free to go now.  The road is just at the edge of the forest.  She asks how will she find him if she wants to see him again?  He tells her that it would best that she not return because next time she may be seriously hurt. 

The barbarians come out looking for Landa.  They hear the sound of someone chopping wood.  They surround Emiliano before he has much chance to react.  They take him back to the fort. 

Meanwhile, Landa comes to the place of shelter where she last saw Emiliano.  She looks around for him but can't find him.

At the fort the leaders say that Emiliano is Goliath.  They torture him to get him to confess to being the giant.  Emiliano is able to break his bindings, but he still can't get away because there are way too many spears all around his body.  At this point Landa arrives and tells the men to stop.  She demands from her father that he stop the torture, but he says everyone says that this man is Goliath.  She then responds that the man should be put to the test to see if he is Goliath or not.    Father agrees. 

A number of men throw their spears part way through a strong board so that the spear points stick though the other side of the board.  Then they tie Emiliano to a yoke and place his back to the spear points.  The yoke in turn is tied to a rope that the spear throwers will now pull toward them to skewer Emiliano's back on the multiple spear points.  It becomes a real tug of war with Emiliano having to use all his strength not to be pulled back onto the spear points.  After a long struggle, the rope slips from the hands of the spear throwers.  Landa was so scared for Emiliano, but now she is ecstatic. 

So another test of strength is given for Emiliano.  He is tied by the arms between two horses who try to pull  away from Emiliano.  Once again Landa is frightened for Emiliano, but it's the horses that tire out first.  Delfo tells Emiliano that he has never before seen such a feat of human strength.  So now Emiliano is free to go.  Svavo protests that they must kill Goliath or he will cause continued problems for them, but Delfo shouts:  "If I say he's free -- he's free."  The barbarians cheer for the strong man as he walks away from the fort. 

The barbarians want to know why Pavia is able to hold out against them when the other towns fell easily to the Lombards.  The Lombard King says he will go see for himself what is the problem.  Igor says he will go with the King, but the King insists that Igor go to Milan on a mission of great importance. 

Emiliano moves a large fallen tree trunk out of the way.  Where once the tree trunk lay is a hollow area where Emiliano stores weapons to be used against the barbarians.  His work is interrupted when an arrow hits the tree trunk.    Emiliano looks up to see that it's Landa with a bow and another arrow.  He asks her why she shot at him and she explains that she had her suspicions about him and followed him.  Now she sees what he is really up to:  storing away stolen weapons.  She stretches her bow out and Emiliano tells her to go ahead and kill him.  She says she feels sorry that she ever met him.  He kisses her and she soon gives in to him. 

Svevo says to Igor that Delfo messed up their chance to kill this Goliath.  So Igor decides to go to Fais rather than to Milano.  In his place, he will send Svevo to Milano.  Svevo will go to Panonia and bring back the sacred crown.  Svevo says Igor can count on him for he will guard the crown with his very life. 

At camp Marco tells Emiliano that everyone is saying that Emiliano is betraying them for the sake of a woman and they have missed a good opportunity to attack Svevo.  Emiliano gets very angry and knocks Marco down.  Then Emiliano comes to his senses and apologizes to Marco. 

In the woods Emiliano and Landa rendezvous, but they are spotted by Svevo.  Emiliano says he cannot keep meeting Landa.  She says that he doesn't love her.   Emiliano is obviously torn between his duty and his love for Landa.  She says that she gave up everything, including her father, to be with Emiliano.  He decides to chase her away saying he is a soldier and can't see her anymore.  Landa cries and walks away as Emiliano continues to insist that she go.  She goes to her tent and continues to cry.  Her father comes in and slaps her twice hard across the face.  He says she has betrayed her father.  He goes on to say that he will kill both Emiliano and her if he has to. 

Igor and a large group of men come to the fort.  Emiliano figures they are not just passing through the area. 

At dinner Igor wants Landa to dance for him.  He makes her father go get her.   Landa tells her father that she will not dance for Igor.  Dad says that they will kill him if she does not dance. 

Igor is furious when he does not see Landa come out with her father.  A little later, however, Landa makes her way to the dance area.  She starts her dance and Igor is loving it.  At the end of the dance the crowd roars its approval.  Landa smiles but then walks away from Igor.  He comes to take what she won't give him, but she knifes his hand with a dagger.  Igor tells Delfo that he will pay for this. 

In a narrow valley the locals set up an ambush for the Lombards.  And here they come through the valley.  Emiliano gives the signal to spring the trap.  Arrows and spears rain down on the Lombards.  Svevo flees the battlefield.  Then Emiliano men attack with spears, swords and axes.  In the wagon with the barbarians, the men find the sacred crown. 

Svevo goes back to the fort moaning that they were ambushed by the native forces.  And Goliath was the leader of the group.  Igor becomes very angry at Delfo all over again.  He then tells Svevo to go to the native village and destroy it.  And so the village people are killed mercilessly.  The roofs are set afire.  Women are raped and their husbands killed.  The people are rounded up and driven away from the village.

At the fort, Emiliano shows up.  He tells the Lombard leaders that in exchange for the freeing of the people, he will give them their sacred crown.  So Delfo has all the prisoners released.  They walk out of of the fort.  Now Emiliano grabs a fire torch and tosses it up into the air. A man with Emiliano sees the signal and brings the scared crown to the fort.  Now the barbarians don't plan to let Emiliano and his accomplice go.  So a general fight breaks out between the supporters of Delfo and the supporters of Igor and Svevo.  Svevo is strangled to death.  Reinforcements arrive for Emiliano.  Igor throws a knife into Delfo's back.  Now Emiliano seriously damages Igor and Igor dies.  Delfo now dies from his knife wound. 

Emiliano is reunited with Landa.  And Emiliano sister is reunited with Marco.  The people are free to move around the land as they like.  (Well, at least for now.)

 

 

Entertaining movie made more enjoyable by the beefcake (Steve Reeves) and the cheesecake (Chelo Alonso).  The less known Alonso was born Isabella Garcia in Central Lugareño, Camagüey, Cuba.  Her father was Cuban and her mother was Mexican.  She gained a bit of fame as a dancer and became a sensation at Cuba's National Theatre in Havana.  She later became a new exotic dancing talent at the Folies Bergère in Paris, being billed as the "new Josephine Baker Most of Alonso's films were adventure movies in the style of Le Fatiche di Ercole (Hercules).  The film Goliath and the Barbarians earned Alonso the award of "Italian Cinema's Female Discovery".  

There were many invasions of Italy after the fall of Rome and these continued for a long while.  This film talks about the Lombard people as one of the invading groups. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 


Historical Background:

The Lombards or Langobards were a Germanic tribe who ruled a Kingdom in Italy from 568 to 774. They were descended from a small tribe called the Winnili who dwelt in southern Scandinavia before migrating to seek new lands.

551 or 552  --  the Lombard king Audoin defeated the Gepid leader Thurisind.

566  --  he married Rosamund, daughter of the Gepid king Cunimund.

567  --   his successor Albion eventually destroyed the Gepids at the Battle of Asfeld.

spring of 568  --  Alboin led the Lombard migration into Italy, which had become severely depopulated after the long Gothic War (535–554) between the Byzantine Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom there.  The Lombards were joined by numerous Saxons, Heruls, Gepids, Bulgars, Thuringians, and Ostrogoths, and their invasion of Italy was almost unopposed. 

By late 569   --  they had conquered all the principal cities north of the Po River except Pavia, which fell in 572. At the same time, they occupied areas in central and southern Italy. They established a Lombard Kingdom in Italy, later named Regnum Italicum ("Kingdom of Italy"), which reached its zenith under the 8th-century ruler Liutprand.

569  --  the first important city to fall was Forum Iulii (Cividale del Friuli) in northeastern Italy.  There, Alboin created the first Lombard duchy, which he entrusted to his nephew Gisulf. Soon Vicenza,Verona and Brescia fell into Germanic hands.

 

summer of 569  --  the Lombards conquered the main Roman centre of northern Italy, Milan. The area was then recovering from the terrible Gothic Wars, and the small Byzantine army left for its defense could do almost nothing. The Exarch sent to Italy by Emperor Justin II, Longinus, could defend only coastal cities that could be supplied by the powerful Byzantine fleet. 

 

572  --  Pavia fell after a siege of three years and became the first capital city of the new Lombard kingdom of Italy.

 

572 --  Alboin was murdered in Verona in a plot led by his wife, Rosamund, who later fled to Ravenna. His successor, Cleph, was also assassinated, after a ruthless reign of 18 months. His death began an interregnum of years (the "Rule of the Dukes") during which the dukes did not elect any king, a period regarded as a time of violence and disorder.

 

573  --  the Lombards penetrated further south, conquering Tuscany and establishing two duchies, Spoleto and Benevento under Zotto, which soon became semi-independent and even outlasted the northern kingdom, surviving well into the 12th century. The Byzantines managed to retain control of the area of Ravenna and Rome, linked by a thin corridor running through Perugia.

 

When they entered Italy, some Lombards retained their native form of paganism, while some were Arian Christians. Hence they did not enjoy good relations with the Catholic Church. Gradually, they adopted Roman titles, names, and traditions, and partially converted to orthodoxy (in the 7th century), though not without a long series of religious and ethnic conflicts.

 

The whole Lombard territory was divided into 36 duchies, whose leaders settled in the main cities. The king ruled over them and administered the land through emissaries called gastaldi. This subdivision, however, together with the independent indocility of the duchies, deprived the kingdom of unity, making it weak even when compared to the Byzantines, especially after they began to recover from the initial invasion. This weakness became even more evident when the Lombards had to face the increasing power of the Franks. In response, the kings tried to centralize power over time, but they definitively lost control over Spoleto and Benevento in the attempt.

584  -- threatened by a Frankish invasion, the dukes elected as king Cleph's son, Authari.

589  --  Authari married Theodelinda, daughter of Garibald I of Bavaria, the Duke of Bavaria. The Catholic Theodelinda was a friend of Pope Gregory I and pushed for Christianization. In the meantime, Authari embarked on a policy of internal reconciliation and tried to reorganize royal administration. The dukes yielded half their estates for the maintenance of the king and his court in Pavia. On the foreign affairs side, Authari managed to thwart the dangerous alliance between the Byzantines and the Franks.

7th century  --  when the Lombards entered Italy, some Lombards retained their native form of paganism, while some were Arian Christians. Hence they did not enjoy good relations with the Catholic Church. Gradually, they adopted Roman titles, names, and traditions, and partially converted to orthodoxy, though not without a long series of religious and ethnic conflicts.

774  --  the Kingdom was conquered by the Frankish King Charlemagne and integrated into his Empire.

well into the 11th century  --  Lombard nobles continued to rule parts of the Italian peninsula when they were conquered by the Normans and added to their County of Sicily. Their legacy is apparent in the regional appellation, Lombardy.

 

 

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