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Film / Sodom and Gomorrah

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"But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly."
—Genesis 13:13 (King James Version)

Sodom and Gomorrah (known in the United States as The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah) is a 1962 Franco-Italian-American biblical epic film (very) loosely based on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from the Book of Genesis, co-produced by Maurizio Lodi-Fe, Goffredo Lombardo, and Joseph E. Levine and directed by Robert Aldrich from a screenplay by Giorgio Prosperi and Hugo Butler.

The twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have grown wealthy from their salt mines, but the wealth is built on the backs of brutal slave labour, and the citizens have become decadent and corrupt, none more so than Queen Bera (Anouk Aimée) and her brother, Prince Astaroth (Stanley Baker). Astaroth is conspiring with the neighbouring Elamites to overthrow Bera and rule Sodom himself. The lives of the Sodomites are interrupted by the arrival of a tribe of Hebrews, led by Lot (Stewart Granger), the nephew of the Hebrew leader Abraham. Lot persuades Bera to sell the Hebrews the land on the opposite side of the River Jordan to Sodom, despite warnings that said land is barren and will be hostile to their attempts to grow crops and raise livestock. In exchange, the Hebrews will pay an annual tribute of grain and aid in the defence of Sodom against the Elamites. To seal the compact, Lot is given Ildith (Pier Angeli), Bera's personal slave. Despite the warnings, the land prospers thanks to a dam built by the Hebrews across the Jordan, and while Ildith finds the simple farming life a high price to pay for her freedom, she and the widowed Lot fall in love and marry.

But on Lot and Ildith's wedding day, the Elamites attack Sodom and destroy the Hebrew camp; the Hebrews win the fight by breaking the dam and flooding the valley, revealing that their land is rich in salt. Lot proposes that they should become salt merchants instead of farmers and herdsmen, and live among the Sodomites, whom he hopes to convert to belief in the Hebrew god, Jehovah. But it is the Sodomites who prove to have a greater influence on the Hebrews, and they become as selfish and greedy as their hosts; even Lot himself kills Astaroth in a rage when taunted with the revelation that the prince has seduced both of his daughters, Shuah and Maleb. Horrified at what he has become, Lot prays to Jehovah for guidance, and receives a startling message about what lies in store for Sodom and Gomorrah...

And if you're familiar with the Old Testament at all, you know the rest.

Miklos Rozsa provided the film's score, while Sergio Leone did uncredited work as a second unit director, overseeing some of the battle sequence between the Hebrews and the Elamites, but he left before filming finished; whether he quit or was fired remains unknown.note 

Under no circumstances to be confused with Sodom and Gomorrah: The Last Seven Days, a big budget pornographic film from 1975.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: When Lot balks at the thought of innocent people being purged alongside the guilty in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angelic messengers tell him that the innocent will be punished for not speaking out against the guilty. This leads to Lot asking for the cities to be spared if he can find fifty righteous men, a figure he ends up bargaining down to ten.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Lot and the Hebrews are portrayed as despising slavery, saying it's an abomination (even freeing slaves where they can). In the Bible, they display no such sentiments, and own slaves themselves (not Lot personally, but Ahraman does, along with Hebrews generally). This was ubiquitous among Middle Eastern cultures then. Lot is also portrayed as very protective with his daughters. In Genesis, he offers them instead of his guests to the Sodomite mob for rape.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are only vaguely described in the Bible. Here, the film omits any homosexuality (per censorship at the time) aside from it being implied with Bera and her handmaid. Drunkenness, greed, sadistic punishments, selfishness and slavery take its place (some of which are at least somewhat implied in the Bible's later references to the cities, but not elaborated on).
  • Adaptation Distillation: Ironically, despite inventing almost the entire plot for the film, the screenplay omits most of the account of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis. Most notably, Abraham is only mentioned, never seen; in Genesis 18, he is the one who receives a message from Jehovah that Sodom and Gomorrah are to be destroyed, and he pleads for the cities to be spared if he can find fifty righteous men, a figure he eventually reduces to ten (and in the end, only Lot and his wife and daughters escape). The battle of Siddim in Genesis 14, in which Abraham rescues Lot from captivity, is also skipped. And aspects of the story from Genesis 19 that would have sent the censors of 1962 into a frothing rage, such as Lot defending two angelic visitors against homosexual rape by the Sodomites and offering his daughters in their place, or his daughters getting him drunk and having sex with him after their arrival in Zoar (their husbands - also absent from the film - having stayed in Sodom), are understandably dropped.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The story of Lot's time in Sodom and Gomorrah ahead of the cities' destruction only takes a couple of chapters to tell. Almost every character besides Lot, his wife and daughters, and Bera (who is referred to in Genesis as the king of Sodom), and almost every plot point in the first two hours - the political intrigue between Bera and Astaroth, Lot leading his own crowd of Hebrews after having parted ways with Abraham, Astaroth's seduction of Lot's daughters, the fight between the Hebrews and the Elamites - was invented for the film.
  • Agent Scully: Queen Bera remains adamant that the signs of Jehovah's displeasure are just natural phenomena, nothing more. A bolt of lightning that happens to strike when she states her defiance of Lot's "impotent" god? Just ordinary lightning. The hot wind and further lightning that begin battering the city after the Hebrews leave? Just a summer storm. The tremors that cause buildings all over the city to collapse onto fleeing citizens? Just an earthquake. She continues to insist that there's no supernatural explanation for her city's destruction right up until she is crushed to death by the walls of her throne room.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: As utterly corrupt and hungry for power and women as Astaroth may be, willing to ally himself with an enemy tribe to achieve the former and refusing to take "no" for an answer in pursuit of the latter, he becomes a sympathetic figure in his final moments. When Lot disarms him during their Duel to the Death, he pleads for mercy in Jehovah's name, but Lot cannot think through the rage of having his Relative Button pressed and kills him anyway. The distraught Shuah and Maleb rush to his side, and he manages a smile as he expresses gratitude for at least being able to die in their arms.
  • And Starring: The final cast credits, which get screens to themselves, are "And with Aldo Silvani" and "Co-starring Anouk Aimée as the Queen".
  • Asshole Victim: The behaviour of the Sodomites as buildings collapse around (and on top of) them and fire consumes the city shows just how many of them frankly deserve to die. There are multiple scenes of people being buried by piles of rubble while carrying valuables, and passers-by helping themselves to the valuables, only to be killed themselves moments later. A man sees two children sheltering in a doorway and drags them out so he can have their shelter; just to make sure we understand how evil he is, he cackles maniacally until the doorway falls on his head and kills him. As for the queen, she plays Lot like a fiddle and manipulates him into killing Astaroth, ending the threat he posed to her rule; her reward is to be crushed to death as her throne room collapses.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: Queen Bera tells Lot that "What you call sin, to me is virtue" when he asks her to repent her sins.
  • Batman Gambit: Queen Bera lays a trap for both Astaroth and Lot by naming the latter as her first minister after he finishes paying off the Hebrews' tribute to Sodom years ahead of schedule. The ambitious Astaroth, who wants that position for himself (the better to eventually overthrow Bera), provokes Lot into a Duel to the Death by revealing that he has seduced his daughters. Lot soon overpowers Astaroth and kills him despite his pleas for mercy... whereupon Bera reveals that she orchestrated the whole thing in order to get rid of Astaroth and his threat to her rule. Every step of her plan relies on Lot and Astaroth behaving exactly as she expects.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Inverted with Lot; when Ildith first meets the Hebrews, she says she heard that Hebrew men always grew beards, but Lot is clean-shaven. The other Hebrews explain that he has shaved it off to mourn his recently deceased wife.note 
  • Bible Times: The film is set about two thousand years before the birth of Christ, shortly after Abraham and his family leave Ur of the Chaldees in search of the lands promised to them by God.
  • Big Bad: Queen Bera is the embodiment of all vice in this version of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. She kidnaps innocent people to use as slave labour in the salt mines that have made her cities wealthy, tortures them to death for information or simply for entertainment, actively encourages the depravities of every free citizen under her rule, and takes personal satisfaction in corrupting the devout Lot and the other Hebrews with the life of decadence available within Sodom's walls. Such is Jehovah's displeasure with her and everything she represents that He razes the cities to the ground.
  • Big Dam Plot: Plan B for the Hebrews' fight against the Elamites involves deliberately breaking the dam they have built across the Jordan to wash away the invaders with a Giant Wall of Watery Doom. Despite the Elamites' attempts to stop the act of self-sabotage, the dam eventually gives way, wiping them out and extinguishing the fires at the Hebrew camp.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The slaves of the Sodomite salt mines have been freed and have joined the Hebrews, but Sodom and Gomorrah have been destroyed, and many innocent lives have been lost in the purge. Shuah and Maleb are clearly still angry at Lot for killing Astaroth, while Ildith cannot resist taking one final look at Sodom and is turned into a pillar of salt, leaving Lot devastated. And the Hebrews end the film as they began it: wandering the desert in search of somewhere to call home.
  • Bowdlerize: Given the censorship at the time, homosexuality couldn't be shown or even mentioned, so the most infamous inspiration from Sodom is omitted, only implied with Bera and her handmaid.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Shuah and Maleb only reluctantly join Lot and the Hebrews in their flight from Sodom, as they are still angry at him for killing Astaroth. Shuah in particular says that she won't leave his side until she sees him feel the same grief and pain that she felt on seeing the man she loved die. It isn't long before she gets her wish...
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Queen Bera thoroughly enjoys working and/or torturing the salt mine slaves to death, and encouraging the same avarice and wickedness in her subjects. Her main motivation for allowing the Hebrews to live in Sodom in the first place is to take delight in corrupting them, then nudging Lot toward killing her brother Astaroth to allow her to rule unchallenged. After Jehovah frees him from Sodom's dungeons, Lot makes one last appeal to Bera's better nature, telling her that if she and her citizens don't repent their sinful ways, Jehovah will destroy them all. But she has no better nature to which to appeal; as she tells Lot, "What you call sin, to me is virtue. And all-powerful Death, whom you hate, I worship."
  • Cassandra Truth: When Lot emerges from his imprisonment in Sodom, he tells the assembled Hebrews and Sodomites that Jehovah plans to destroy the city as punishment for the citizens' wickedness unless he can find ten righteous men to lead out of the city with the Hebrews. He is greeted with derisive laughter and, from one Sodomite, a goblet of wine in his face. Sure enough, as soon as the last Hebrew passes through the city gates, the city is reduced to rubble and the inhabitants are all killed.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • When slave girl Tamar is captured by Sodomite guards after her meeting with the Elamites on Astaroth's behalf, Bera locks her in a cage with a blind slave wearing spiked upper body armour, the spikes on which protrude whenever he takes a breath, in the hopes of getting her to name her co-conspirator. But Tamar remains loyal to Astaroth... at the expense of her own life - and those of her younger sisters.
    • As if working slaves to death in the salt mines isn't bad enough, the Sodomites torture them to death for entertainment. When Ishmael's slave revolt fails, the re-captured slaves are strapped to a wooden wheel over a fire pit, doused with oil, and slowly burned to death as the wheel turns, all while a raucous crowd of Sodomites watches and cheers.
  • The Corrupter: The Hebrews are usually typically pious Old Testament followers of Jehovah's word. But once Queen Bera agrees to let them live among the Sodomites as salt merchants instead of outside the city walls as farmers, the easy access to money and pleasures of the flesh soon makes them all forget about their faith, culminating in Lot murdering Astaroth, Bera's brother, after disarming him during a Duel to the Death. At this point, Jehovah has had enough and sends angelic messengers to Lot to tell him to get the Hebrews out of the cities, as they have been marked for destruction.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Ildith can't help disobeying Lot's instructions not to look back toward Sodom, the city she called home long before Lot arrived, as the Hebrews head back into the desert. She learns the hard way that Lot wasn't kidding when he said Jehovah would smite anyone who looked back as she is turned into a pillar of salt.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The filmmakers couldn't be too explicit in depicting the "practices" most associated with Sodom and Gomorrah unless they wanted to incur the wrath of the 1962 censors, but they drop very strong hints that Bera is sexually attracted to both men and women - including her own brother - as part of her "Anything that brings pleasure must be good" ethos. She behaves very amorously toward Astaroth, particularly in one scene where they play bite each other's fingers, while she spends most of her scenes with her slave girl Orphea exchanging amorous looks with her or taking her by the hand.
  • Deus ex Machina: Jehovah intervenes multiple times in the film's final act to clear the path for Lot and the Hebrews to escape the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. First, He breaks the chains binding Lot and Ishmael's hands and opens the doors of their cells. Next, He blinds the guards who try to re-capture them with a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky. Then, when the guards bolt the gates shut to keep the slaves from escaping, He opens the gates for them, snapping the beam holding them shut in half.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: When Lot kills Astaroth, he holds on for just long enough to take comfort in the fact that at least he dies in Shuah's arms.
  • The Dog Bites Back: As Lot brings the Hebrews to a halt in their flight from Sodom to deliver Jehovah's warning that He will smite anyone who so much as looks back at the cities' destruction, the salt mine slaves, now well aware that the Hebrews are sympathetic to their plight, begin yelling "Lot! Free us, Lot!" and shaking the fences of the pen in which they are imprisoned. Bera's enforcer, Malik, shouts "Stay back!" and orders the guards to close the gates to the city, after which they join her in trying to restrain the slaves. But there are dozens of slaves and only a handful of guards trying to hold them back, and the fence is soon torn down, and Malik and the guards are trampled to death by the slaves they have tortured for so long.
  • Don't Look Back: The angels' instructions to Lot are very clear on this point: anyone who looks back toward Sodom after leaving will be assumed to do so out of regret for leaving the city's ways, and Jehovah will smite them as punishment. Just as she is about to cross over the last mountain within sight of Sodom, Ildith gives in to temptation and looks back at the fiery explosion consuming the ruined city... and is promptly turned into an Ildith-shaped pillar of salt.
  • Duel to the Death: When Astaroth taunts Lot with the fact that he has seduced both Shuah and Maleb (the latter of whom was nominally in a relationship with Ishmael), Lot is given a sword, and he and Astaroth fight in front of the assembled Sodomites and Hebrews. Despite discarding the sword in favour of his staff, Lot easily overpowers and kills Astaroth.
  • The End Is Nigh: Even before the Hebrews show up, the Sodomites have a resident doomsayer in the form of street preacher Alabias, who declares that building their fortune on slave labour is evil, and that the day will come when Sodom is called to account for the citizens' wickedness. The other Sodomites laugh him off, and he is beaten up and left for dead in a slave graveyard, where he is rescued by Lot and the Hebrews. Just before the film's climax, Lot tells Alabias that Jehovah will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and Alabias is delighted to finally see his warnings proven correct.
  • Evil Feels Good: Bera certainly thinks so; when Lot kills Astaroth, she says that the only pleasure greater than watching a killing is being the killer, and in her final conversation with Lot before he leads the Hebrews out of the city, she says that what he calls "sin", she calls "virtue".
  • Evil Versus Evil: Before the Hebrews arrive on Sodom's doorstep, Bera and Astaroth are locked in a power struggle, with Astaroth trying to recruit the Elamites to help him overthrow his sister and rule Sodom himself. Both of them are horrible people, with Astaroth aggressively pursuing both of Lot's daughters despite their (initial) resistance, while Bera takes sadistic glee in watching Lot kill Astaroth and watching re-captured slaves be tortured to death.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Ildith refuses to believe that the supernatural events preceding - and following - the Hebrews' flight from Sodom are the work of Jehovah; instead, as her inner monologue reveals, she believes the "miracles" are Lot's handiwork. Her lack of faith in Jehovah has fatal consequences when she disobeys the instructions not to look back at the city's destruction.
  • Foregone Conclusion: If the title The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn't enough of a giveaway, even a passing familiarity with the Book of Genesis makes it clear how the story will end. Lot will fail to find even one righteous Sodomite to lead away with the Hebrews, the cities will be destroyed as soon as he leaves, and Ildith will be turned into a pillar of salt when she looks back in a moment of weakness.
  • Foreshadowing: If you didn't already know that Ildith's downfall will be her lack of faith in Jehovah and her longing for the life she knew in Sodom, her anguished reply to Lot's declaration of love for her an hour into the film spells it out quite clearly:
    Ildith: It's not for what I've done. It's for what I may do some day. I may never believe in this Jehovah of yours!
    Lot: You will!
    Ildith: [looking at the coarse fabric of her dress] I may never be happy dressed in clothes like these.
    Lot: You will be.
    Ildith: Perhaps... perhaps something in me will betray us. And I will want to go back to Sodom.
  • Gender Flip: Bera is described as the king of Sodom in Genesis. In this film, Bera is the queen of Sodom.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The Hebrews defeat the Elamites by voluntarily breaking the dam they have built across the River Jordan, sending millions of gallons of water pouring into the valley and washing away their attackers.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: By Gender Flipping Bera from the king of Sodom to the queen of Sodom, the writers create a stellar example of brutally sadistic female rulers. Her primary goal as queen is simply to enjoy the power and pleasure the role affords her, especially if it comes at the expense of the lives of slaves, or of the easily-corrupted innocence of the Hebrews she allows to live in her city. Such is Jehovah's disgust that He acts on the name of this trope, killing Bera and obliterating every last stone and free inhabitant of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • Good Is Boring: When Ildith tells Lot that he shouldn't act on his love for her, but should instead hold himself to a high standard so that the Hebrews think of him as a good man, Lot jokes that what she really means is "dull, grey, old, boring".
  • The Hedonist: Sodom and Gomorrah are two cities full of them. Slaves aside, everyone lives only for pleasure, ranging from copious drinking and as much sensuality as could be depicted in a mainstream film in the 1960s to watching slaves be tortured to death for entertainment. The longer the Hebrews spend in Sodom, the more they are won over to the idea of living only for instant gratification, as seen when they are lazily drinking and enjoying a performance by dancing girls at a royal banquet (the elders excepted; they mostly scowl in disapproval at the display).
  • Heroic BSoD: Lot almost completely shuts down after his horror at becoming a murderer and, in Bera's words, a "true Sodomite" overtakes him, and he robotically follows his jailers to a cell in Sodom's dungeons.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Melchior leads a group of saboteurs to smash the pipelines sending oil to the wall of fire Lot and the Hebrews are using to cut off the Elamites, causing the fire to go out. But the burning oil pools on the sand, and as Ishmael chases after Melchior, the latter falls into the pool of oil and burns to death.
    • During the final destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, two children are sheltering in a doorway from the collapsing buildings. A cackling man pulls them into the street and shelters in the doorway himself. Seconds later, it collapses on top of him and kills him.
  • Hollywood Costuming: The bouffant hairstyles (especially that sported by Stewart Granger as Lot) and copious use of eye shadow mark this film as an unmistakable product of the late 1950s/early 1960s, despite its biblical setting.
  • Incest Subtext: Bera and Astaroth are very flirtatious with each other. In one scene, they play bite each other's fingers (drawing blood in Astaroth's case) and have a conversation that suggests they once went a lot further physically than that.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: The angelic messengers tell Lot that Jehovah has reached this conclusion about Sodom and Gomorrah; the cities and everyone who lives within them are to be destroyed for the uncountable evil acts they have committed. Even the innocent are marked for death for not speaking out against the guilty. Lot pleads for the cities to be spared if he can find ten righteous men among the Sodomites; the angels tell him Jehovah agrees, but when Lot cannot find even one Sodomite to follow the Hebrews out of the city, their doom is sealed.
  • Kick the Dog: It's not enough to simply re-capture the slaves Ishmael attempted to free as part of his failed Slave Liberation. Bera orders them tied to a wooden wheel over a flame pit; they are then doused in oil and the wheel is turned so that they slowly burn to death, their agonised cries delighting the crowd of watching Sodomites and horrifying the imprisoned Lot.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • When Melchior betrays the Hebrews to the Elamites and sabotages the oil pipelines they are using for a defensive wall of fire, he is cornered by Ishmael. As he tries to flee, he falls into a pool of burning oil created by his sabotage. Ishmael leaves him to burn to death.
    • Numerous Sodomites get instant karmic payback for their continued acts of selfishness and greed even as their city is collapsing around them in the film's climax. A cackling man throws two children out of the doorway they are using for shelter so that he can shelter there instead - and the doorway promptly falls on his head and kills him. A woman pulls a pitcher from the hands of a (still alive) Sodomite half buried by rubble, only for another Sodomite to shove her up against a wall and kiss her; the wall immediately topples over and kills them both.
  • The Mole: Part of Bera's motivation for giving Ildith to the Hebrews is to have someone on the inside to report back to her about their situation, and how best to use it to Sodom's advantage.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lot can't think through his rage at Astaroth's defilement of his daughters, and even though Shuah, Maleb, and Astaroth himself all plead for his life, Lot plunges his sword into his opponent's heart. Shuah and Maleb are distraught, while Bera congratulates Lot on becoming a true Sodomite who takes pleasure in taking life. Lot is horrified at what he has become, and, when asked what he would do if a murderer were brought before him in his capacity as a judge, he says he would send him to jail to await trial. Which just makes him feel worse, as he feels his punishment is not his but Jehovah's to decide.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Lot's wife and daughters are unnamed in the Book of Genesis (when the girls get Lot drunk and sleep with him, they are identified as his elder and younger daughters rather than by name). Here, Lot's wife is called Ildith, while his daughters are Shuah and Maleb.
  • Narrator: A few scenes near the beginning of the film feature voiceover narration to establish the decadence of Sodom and to explain how Lot came to the Jordan after parting ways with his uncle, Abraham.
  • Never Trust a Title: The film may be called Sodom and Gomorrah, but Gomorrah is never so much as glimpsed.
  • Papa Wolf: Lot is fiercely protective of the virtue of his daughters, Shuah and Maleb, so when Astaroth taunts him with the revelation that he has seduced both of them, Lot flies into a murderous rage and fights Astaroth to the death.
  • Pride: Lot admits to the Hebrew elders that he has fallen victim to this after dictating his own punishment for the sin of murdering Astaroth. A less prideful reaction would have been to submit to Jehovah's punishment for him instead.
  • Re-Cut: Aldrich claimed in interviews that half an hour was cut from the film before its cinematic release. The film was further trimmed from 154 minutes to 99 minutes for a 1988 broadcast on ITV.
  • Redemption Rejection: After receiving a message from Jehovah about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot tries to appeal to Bera and her subjects to repent their sinful ways and join the Hebrews in following Jehovah to spare them from His vengeance. But none of the Sodomites are interested (one in particular tells Lot he's happy in Sodom and throws a goblet of wine in his face), while Bera tells Lot that she feels she has nothing to repent, and even a final warning from Jehovah Himself does not sway her.
    Bera: What you call sin, to me is virtue. And all-powerful Death, whom you hate, I worship. I turn my back on you, Lot. [stands up] On you... and your impotent god. [the Sodomites cheer as she turns to leave; Jehovah promptly signals that He means business with a bolt of lightning in a largely clear sky, and Lot looks meaningfully skyward, but Bera smirks defiantly] Clouds, lightning. Such simple wonders you teach your people to fear.
  • Relative Button: Incensed at being passed over as first minister in favour of Lot, Astaroth decides to provoke Lot into fighting a Duel to the Death by revealing that he has seduced both of Lot's daughters, Shuah and Maleb (the latter of whom was nominally in a relationship with Ishmael at the time). It works... too well, as when he overpowers and disarms his opponent, Lot ignores the pleas for mercy from both Astaroth and his own daughters and stabs him through the chest.
  • Sacred Hospitality: When the Hebrews first arrive by the banks of the Jordan, Lot insists that any escaped slave who enters the Hebrew camp is to be given sanctuary, and the Hebrews are happy to accept every slave who enters their camp as one of their own. Once they move into Sodom itself, the Hebrews suddenly become much less interested in offering sanctuary to escaped slaves, which causes Ishmael's slave revolt to end with his imprisonment and the execution by torture of many of the recaptured slaves.
  • Sadist: Queen Bera and the other Sodomites find high entertainment in watching slaves who revolted die by torture.
  • Sex Slave: This being 1962, the filmmakers had to hide all allusions to the Sodomites' sexual depravities under veils of implication, but the smoky glances Bera gives her personal slave, Orphea - especially when she leads her through the palace by the hand - make it clear that her duties as slave include satisfying the queen's carnal urges.
  • Skewed Priorities: The Sodomites are depraved and selfish to the last; even as their city is collapsing around them, they would rather fight over bars of gold and other valuables than try to save the people carrying said valuables after they have been buried under piles of rubble, while a man and a woman start kissing against a wall seconds before it topples over and crushes them to death.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Lot and the Hebrews, plus the one good Sodomite Alabias, condemn slavery utterly. This is implied to be Sodom and Gomorrah's worst sin, for which the cities are condemned by God.
  • Slave Liberation: The Hebrews permit escaped slaves freedom if they reach their camp, while Ishmael also tries to rescue many more later but fails when the Hebrews refuse to grant them sanctuary in their homes. As Lot and the Hebrews leave the city of Sodom near the end of the film, the slaves tear down the fences of their holding pen and join the Hebrews at Lot's invitation.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: The angelic messengers tell Lot that Sodom and Gomorrah have grown so decadent and corrupt that Jehovah has decided to level the cities before the sun sets that day. Lot and the Hebrews - and the freed slaves - are only just able to get out ahead of the lightning storm, earthquake, and fiery explosions that reduce the cities and everyone in them to dust.
  • The Starscream: Queen Bera is the reigning monarch of Sodom, and her brother, Prince Astaroth, is only a high-ranking minister, but he is secretly conspiring with the Elamites to attack Sodom, so that he can overthrow Bera in the chaos and become king himself. Unfortunately for him, Bera is aware of his plotting and insists that he remain by her side when the Elamites attack, then pulls a Batman Gambit on both Lot and Astaroth that results in the former killing the latter.
  • Symbolically Broken Object: As Jehovah's wrath rains down on Sodom and Gomorrah in the film's climax, a shot of the walls of Queen Bera's throne room collapsing and crushing her to death is immediately followed by a shot of the sigil of the two cities, a male torso pointing upwards and a female torso pointing downwards, as it falls from the wall and shatters on the floor to symbolise the demise of the cities, their inhabitants, and their whole way of life.
  • Taken for Granite: Ildith's punishment for disobeying Lot's instructions not to look back after leaving Sodom and Gomorrah is to be transformed into a pillar of salt.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Melchior is by far the most slimy and selfish of the Hebrews long before they reach the Jordan. In his first scene, he goads Ishmael into drinking from the water sacks that Lot has declared only for the use of the sick, and he later betrays the Hebrews to Astaroth and the Elamites, culminating in his sabotage of the oil fire the Hebrews set to control the flow of battle.
  • Token Good Teammate: Alabias is the only Sodomite who acknowledges the evils of the slavery on which the cities' fortune is built, but no-one is interested in hearing his sermons, and he is beaten up and left for dead in the slaves' graveyard in the film's first act. However, he chooses to stay in Sodom for its destruction rather than leaving with the Hebrews; he sees the fulfillment of his predictions about the cities' downfall as reward enough for his belief.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers for the film mostly revolved around scenes of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah - which begins seven minutes from the end.
  • Turncoat: Melchior is a self-serving schemer even before the Hebrews reach the River Jordan, but once there, he assists Astaroth in his aggressive pursuit of Lot's daughter Shuah, and then defects to Sodom and passes along intel about their defences against a possible attack by the Elamites.
  • The Unfettered: It's made clear that Queen Bera and other Sodomites see no limits placed on gaining pleasure. Whether it be killing people, incest or whatever else, anything goes in their eyes.
  • Villains Want Mercy:
    • When Melchior falls into the pool of burning oil he created as part of his sabotage, he begs for Ishmael to save him. Disgusted by the treason of his fellow Hebrew, Ishmael simply claims he can't hear anything - the dead don't speak. He leaves Melchior to burn to death.
    • When Lot overpowers Astaroth during their duel, Astaroth begs for mercy in Jehovah's name. Lot is having none of it, however, and stabs Astaroth through the heart... only realising in the immediate aftermath that this makes him a murderer.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Bera steadily loses her composure as it becomes obvious Lot was quite serious about the impending destruction of her city. At first, she calmly dismisses the strengthening wind as a mere summer storm while accepting a goblet of wine from a slave, but the rest of her court is less convinced. When the floor suddenly pitches back and forth, Bera snaps that it's just an earthquake... but as the throne room floor splits down the middle, everyone else flees in terror, even as she shouts, "Stay with your queen! I command you to stay!" She repeats this order even when she and her favourite slave, Orphea, are the only people left, and even Orphea runs off despite Bera's protests seconds before the walls collapse on the queen.
  • Watching Troy Burn: As they are about to cross the final mountain within view of Sodom, Ildith can't resist any longer; she turns back to watch the final destruction of her former hometown in a fireball. It's the last thing she ever sees, as Jehovah turns her into a pillar of salt for her trouble.
  • Wedding Smashers: The day the Elamites attack Sodom and the Hebrew camp just happens to be Lot and Ildith's wedding day. Although the ceremony is already over when the Elamites show up, Lot and Ildith don't even have time to catch their breath before Lot tells Ildith to get the women and children to safety while he leads the Hebrews into battle.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the second half of the film, the Hebrews have settled in Sodom as salt merchants, thereby allowing them to finish paying their tribute to the queen years ahead of schedule, and Lot has become a respected minister of justice. Ishmael is unimpressed, however, and he berates Lot for losing sight of the problems that remain: the Sodomites are still horribly corrupt and greedy, and they are overworking the salt mine slaves Ishmael thought the Hebrews were planning to free in order to compete with the fair prices at which the Hebrews are selling their salt.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • When slave girl Tamar refuses to identify the name of her co-conspirator in recruiting the Elamites to overthrow Bera, the queen doubles back on her promise not to kill her younger sisters, both of whom are clearly still children.
    • During the climactic destruction of the title cities, a Sodomite throws two children out of a doorway from which they are trying to shelter from the collapsing buildings so that he can shelter there instead. He gets zapped by Laser-Guided Karma as the doorway falls on his head and kills him.
  • Wretched Hive: To avoid lengthy battles with the censors of 1962, the filmmakers couldn't be overly explicit in depicting Sodom and Gomorrah's sexual depravities (the most we get is some leering and hints that the queen has both lesbian and incestuous inclinations, although this was still enough to get the film slapped with an X certificate in the United Kingdom), but the fact that the citizens watch slaves being tortured to death for entertainment and would rather murder each other for valuables than escape the destruction of their city paints a vivid enough picture of just how horrible they are. The longer the Hebrews stay in Sodom, the more corrupt they become, until they slam their doors against the revolting slaves led by Ishmael instead of offering them sanctuary, and when Ishmael is brought before Queen Bera, none of the Hebrews present - not even Lot - intervene on his behalf.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: As if the realisation that killing Astaroth makes him a murderer isn't bad enough, Lot has salt rubbed in the wound when Bera tells him he has become "a true Sodomite".