Fabiola (1949 film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alessandro Blasetti
Produced by Salvo D'Angelo
Starring Michèle Morgan
Henri Vidal
Michel Simon
Music by Enzo Masetti
Cinematography Mario Craveri
Ubaldo Marelli
Edited by Mario Serandrei
Universalia Film
Filmsonor Productions
Release dates
3 March 1949
1951 (UK & U.S.)
Running time
164 min
Country Italy / France
Language Italian

Fabiola (UK title: The Fighting Gladiator) is a 1949 Italian language motion picture historical drama directed by Alessandro Blasetti, very loosely based on the 1854 novel Fabiola by Nicholas Patrick Wiseman. The film stars Michèle Morgan, Henri Vidal and Michel Simon. It tells the story of the Roman Empire in which Christianity is growing around the 4th century AD.


In ancient Rome a love story blossoms between Fabiola, daughter of a senator, and Rhual, a gallic gladiator. When Fabiola's father is killed, the Romans blame the Christians and the persecution begins. Rhual confesses to be a Christian and is accused of the murder and sentenced to fight to death in the arena.

312 AD. Rhual, a young and athletic Gaul, is invited to take part in the gladiator games at the seaside villa of Senator Fabius Severus, near Rome. Secretly, Rhual is an agent of Emperor Constantine who wishes to establish Christianity in the Roman Empire, and Fabius is leading a movement for religious tolerance and the freeing of slaves. In the villa gardens Rhual meets and falls in love with a beautiful girl whom he later discovers to be Fabiola, the senator's daughter. Fabius is murdered during the night by reactionary politicians opposed to Christianity, and the Christians are blamed for the murder. Fabiola suspects Rhual to be one of the Christian assassins, but at their trial he appears in their defence. However, the Christians together with Rhual are found guilty and sentenced to death in the arena. So begin the persecutions during which many Christians are killed or imprisoned. The centurion Sebastian of the Praetorian Guard, denounced as a Christian, dies as a martyr. Fabiola obtains Rhual's freedom, but he at first rejects her. The situation is redeemed, however, when Fabiola declares herself to be on the side of the Christians and joins them in the arena, thereby indicating they were not responsible for her father's death. Rhual is forced to fight several gladiators, but does not attempt to kill them. Eventually, the gladiators follow his example and throw down their arms. Meanwhile, the advance troops of Constantine arrive at the city walls and there is a general uprising. Peace returns to Rome, and the imperial banners display the sign of Christ.

Principal cast


The film earned an estimated $1,050,000 in rentals at the US box office in 1951.[1]

See also


  1. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952

External links

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