Cast & Crew
Three hundred years after the death of the mighty King Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, and his army overthrow the city of Jerusalem and enslave all its inhabitants. For the next fifty years, Nebuchadnezzar forces the enslaved Jews to build upon the glory of Babylon, but despite their hardships the Jews refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar's gods, infuriating the Babylonians. Nevertheless, Nebuchadnezzar makes the wise Jewish prophet Daniel a trusted advisor and allows him to pray daily in a palace tower for all the city to see, which rankles the king's son, Belshazzar. When Daniel asks the king to lessen the burden on his people, Nebuchadnezzar tells him that when Daniel accepts the Babylonian gods, he will ease the demands placed on the slaves. The king then warns Daniel that Belshazzar will be a tyrant once he ascends to the throne. In the city, a Jewish slave named Nahum protests the abuse of several slaves by soldiers and after a fight, flees to the home of his fiancée, Rachel. Daniel visits Rachel seeking Nahum and reveals that a shepherd named Cyrus living in the land of Median has the power to free the slaves of Babylon and asks Nahum to find him and learn the secret of his life. Nahum agrees and escapes the city through a drainage tunnel he had discovered as a child and travels for several weeks before finding Cyrus. Although suspicious of Nahum, Cyrus takes him home and is shocked when his mother and father reveal to Nahum that they are not Cyrus' real parents. Cyrus' mother, mute since his childhood, presents Nahum with a tapestry she has made, which depicts how the soldiers of King Astyages brought his grandson to her to rear, fearing to carry out the king's order to kill the infant. As she had just given birth to a stillborn child, no one questioned the presence of the baby and the soldiers cut out her tongue to insure her silence. Cyrus resists the notion of being the next king of Persia, yet grudgingly allows Nahum to visit Astyages' daughter, Princess Mandane. When shown the tapestry, she returns with Nahum to Cyrus' home, arriving in time to prevent Astyages from killing Cyrus. She admits to being Cyrus' true mother, and Cyrus reluctantly assumes the position of ruler of Median. He remains unhappy, confiding to Nahum that what he wants most is the hand of Princess Panthea. Nahum offers to visit the princess as Cyrus' ambassador, but Panthea is unimpressed by Cyrus or his new title. Nahum suggests to Cyrus that Panthea might be more susceptible to his proposal if he were already king and under his urging, Cyrus and his small army attack Astyages. Nahum grows concerned when Cyrus' attack falters and wonders how Daniel's prophecy will be fulfilled. Meanwhile, in Babylon, Daniel is aware of Nahum and Cyrus' crisis and prays for guidance. At Belshazzar's urging, Nebuchadnezzar passes a decree that forbids worship of any strange gods for thirty days. When Daniel prays in the tower as usual, he is arrested and sent to a dungeon full of lions. The next morning, Daniel is discovered safe, praying among the beasts. When released, he sends a message to Nahum advising him to warn Astyages that if fighting does not cease, the sun will be blotted out. During the height of the next battle, a solar eclipse occurs, frightening Astyages into surrendering. Nahum returns to Panthea with the news that Cyrus is now king, but she remains uninterested, until Nahum recommends she consider becoming the queen of Babylon. He counsels her to court Belshazzar and promises that Daniel will speak highly of her to win the prince's favor. Panthea agrees, promising to wait for his word in Tarsis. Later in Babylon, Belshazzar learns of Panthea's great beauty and accepts their engagement. When Cyrus, weary of fighting, learns of the betrothal, he nevertheless sets out to attack Babylon. On the road to Babylon, Cyrus overtakes Panthea, and she convinces him to continue with his attack, for as ruler of Babylon, she would consider him worthy. Cyrus leaves Panthea in Nahum's care and she grows fascinated by his many tales of the history of his people. In Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar falls into senility as prophesized by Daniel and before dying, pleads for the wise man's forgiveness. Belshazzar, determined to destroy the Jewish slaves, frees them, but sends them into a canyon, where they are encircled and the paths around them set afire by the king's soldiers. Panthea, meanwhile, offers Nahum her affections, but he rejects her. Daniel seeks the sacred vessels taken from the temple of Jerusalem from Belshazzar, and while he is there, mysterious writing appears on the wall above the throne. Belshazzar and his advisors are terrified, and Daniel translates the words, which proclaim that the king's rule of Babylon is doomed. In the canyon a storm breaks out and the rain squelches the fires. Using Nahum's tip to invade the city through its drainage tunnels, Cyrus' army attacks Babylon and overthrows Belshazzar. Cyrus claims Babylon, takes Panthea as his queen and frees Daniel, Nahum and their people.
Charles S. Gould
William A. Lyon
The real King Nebuchadnezzar (630-562 B.C.) ruled Babylon for fifty-seven years and was known for recovering lost provinces to the kingdom and restoring and rebuilding all the temples throughout his empire. According to the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, Daniel interpreted dreams for Nebuchadnezzar, but unlike the story in the film, the incident in the lions' den occurred after the fall of Belshazzar under King Darius. Hollywood Reporter news items include Guy Zanett, Don Garrett and Joseph Mell in the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.