Samson and Delilah (1996)
Mara and her husband Manoa are both upstanding and religious Israelites living under the harsh and unjust rule of the Philistines. Much to their regret, they have not been able to have children. One day, a mysterious stranger appears to Mara and promises her that she will bear a son whom she is to call Samson. The stranger tells her that as one chosen by God Samson will fight the Philistines, will have immense strength at his disposal, but that he may never cut his hair (or drink alcohol); otherwise this gift will be lost. Samson is born and as foretold he grows into a boy with amazing strength. As time passes, Samson becomes an attractive young man and young women begin to interest him more and more. Naomi, a pretty but rather melancholic girl, falls deeply in love with him. During a walk Samson learns the young woman's story. When she was a small child, her village was exterminated by the Philistines and her whole family butchered. Since then Naomi has not only been in mourning, but she harbors an unbridled desire for retaliation. She tries to convince Samson to join a group of young people planning an insurrection. Samson with his incredible strength could be a symbol, a hero, of this uprising! Initially Samson rejects the idea, but when Naomi provokes a confrontation with the Philistines he naturally hurries to her rescue. Soon the news spreads, not only to the Israelite villages but also to the Philistine royal palace in Gaza, that an Israelite by the name of Samson has killed several Philistines with his bare hands. When King Hanun, his hot-tempered son Sidqa and General Tariq hear this, they are anything but enthusiastic. They deliberate about what can be done to restrain this Samson before a revolt breaks out. Delilah, the king's beautiful, seductive and scheming niece insists on being present during these conversations. Samson is still not fully aware of the role he is supposed to play for his people. God has not yet given him a sign. One day he sneaks into a Philistine camp without having an exact plan on how he is going to proceed against them. Here he sees Delilah for the first time and is immediately fascinated by her. Just at this moment, a wounded desert lion bounds enters the camp and attacks Delilah. Without hesitating, Samson confronts the lion unarmed and after a terrible struggle, overpowers it with his bare hands. For reasons unfathomable to the Philistines who witness this, General Tariq lets the Israelite Samson go free. Like Delilah, the experienced general has been impressed by the scene and is curious to find out what sort of person Samson is. Back in the royal palace Tariq, who has grown wise with age, suggests concluding peace with the Israelites to King Hanun. The General, however, cannot put this idea across against the fierce resistance of Prince Sidqa, who is planning to take Samson prisoner. To accomplish this he bribes two Israelites, Jehiel and Amram childhood companions of Samson's. The pair, sons of Samson's friend and mentor Ira, are jealous of Samson because they would like to assume the leadership of the Israelites themselves. They see their position endangered by Samson and are only too happy to get rid of him. Initially, the plan seems to work and Samson is caught in a trap. Thanks to his strength, he succeeds in breaking free and fleeing from his captors. With Yoram's help Samson manages to hide in Ira's home. When Samson and Ira learn that Jehiel and Amram, of all people are behind the attempt on Samson's life, Ira disowns his sons. Angered and dissapointed by the betrayal of his own people Samson flees into the desert. There, he comes upon the corpse of the lion he killed and sees that bees have nested in it. Samson is so hungry that he contravenes God's command and eats the impure honey. From now on Samson will stray from the path of righteousness and will only find his way back after taking many risks and suffering much pain. In the desert, Samson encounters Amrok, an Israelite, who has been raised by the Philistines like one of their own. Amrok invites Samson to the village of his foster-father Harach, where Samson, much to his amazement, is very warmly received. Samson is surprised to be received in such a friendly manner by Harach and his family. His concept of the Philistines as enemies threatens to collapse, especially after he sets eyes on Rani, Harach's pretty and delightful daughter. Samson and Rani are immediately strongly attracted to each other and after Harach and even King Hanun have declared their consent, Samson and Rani decide to marry. A solemn wedding banquet is to crown the ceremony. The King even sends thirty Philistines to preside at the function. During the course of the festivities, the atmosphere becomes very lively and Samson poses a riddle promising the one who guesses the answer thirty sheep and festive attire. After being put under pressure by Mahal, the leader of the Philistine wedding group, Rani discloses the answer to the riddle. Angered and disappointed by this betrayal, Samson slays the thirty Philistines so that Mahal can have their clothes as a reward. Samson's vengeance is not yet over: in his anger he sets the fields of the Philistines on fire, conjuring up an even greater disaster. Following orders from Prince Sidqa, Mahal kills Rani and Harach for having betrayed their people As Samson visits the town Rani came from, Amrok tells him about the atrocities committed by Mahal. Samson, deeply moved by all this suffering, suddenly has a vague premonition that all is not well at home and decides to return to his parents. He arrives home to find his father Manoa on his deathbed. Shortly before Manoa passes away, father and son who have been estranged ever since Samson's marriage to Rani, reconcile. After Manoa's death, Samson hastily sets off again. He knows the Philistine henchmen cannot be far off and his does not want to endanger his mother. When Samson finally arrives in Gaza he sets about searching for the traitor Mahal, and once he has found him, kills him. The Philistines are alarmed when they hear that Samson is supposedly in the city. To cut off all routes of escape, they close the city gates. They are dismayed when they discover that the gates, weighing tons, have been lifted off their hinges and that Samson has disappeared. Since Samson apparently cannot be captured by conventional means, the royal court decides to use a woman's charms instead. Delilah is promised jewels and wealth to seduce Samson and worm out of him the secret of his supernatural strength. The inevitable comes to pass: Samson falls in love with the bewitching Delilah. The enchantress plays her part well and after much cajoling and teasing, she gets Samson to disclose his big secret: If his long hair were to be shorn he would lose all his strength. Although Delilah has to struggle with her feelings she finally cuts off his hair, thus enabling the Philistines to take Samson prisoner. Once they have him captured, they blind him for good measure. While languishing in prison, a blind and helpless Samson finally becomes conscious of his numerous mistakes and presumptuousness and recognizes God's greatness. Through his sufferings, the once proud and reckless youth matures into a humble and truly religious man. While performing forced labor every day, he prays that his hair will soon grow back so that he can fulfil his calling. In the meantime the Israelites under the leadership of Jehiel and Amram, instigate a revolt against the Philistines. This uprising is mercilessly crushed by General Tariq. Naomi is among the few survivors. She desperately wants to see Samson one more time. Overcoming all feelings of bitterness Naomi goes to Delilah to ask for her help. Delilah, whose conscience gives her no peace, is prepared to help Naomi, if Naomi can convince Samson to forgive her. A sumptuous feast is held in the temple of the Philistine god, Dagon. The highlight of the festivities is to be the presentation of the tamed and helpless Samson. During the course of the festivities, Delilah manages to speak to Samson. Blind and unsuspecting, and assuming she is Naomi, Samson gives Delilah a kiss of forgiveness on the forehead. The time has now come for him to complete his task. Samson, who has regained his strength, braces himself against the pillars of the temple and brings the walls of the whole temple tumbling down. While young Yoram, Naomi and Delilah are able to flee at the very last moment, the massive walls forever bury Samson, King Hanun and his son Prince Sidqa, General Tariq and countless Philistines beneath them.