The Fall of the Roman Empire DVD
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Directed by Anthony Mann
Produced in 1964
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
Chock-full of extras and also available on blu-ray, this is the definitive presentation of this star-studded widescreen epic. Its scale and ambition is unimaginable today, says James Oliver.
Produced on a scale that's simply unimaginable in these days of CGI shortcuts, The Fall of the Roman Empire was an infamous flop when first released. Viewed today, however, it emerges as maybe the best of the sword and sandal genre, balancing impressive spectacle with keen intelligence.
We begin in the reign of Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness); 17 years of war have left him worried for the survival of the Empire. His son and heir Commodus (Plummer) is a wastrel, so Caesar decides to appoint an alternative successor, the steadfast Livius (Boyd), to guide Rome to a new dawn. Alas, Marcus is bumped off before the arrangements can be made and Commodus takes the laurels, setting Rome on a precipitous decline.
This is big stuff, so director Anthony Mann sensibly concentrates on the characters at the heart of the story, putting as much weight on the ill-fated romance of Livius and the beautiful Lucilla (Loren) as on the imperial politicking. Now restored to something approaching its original glory, it's one of the greatest of all epics.
James Oliver on 19th April 2011
Author of 146 reviews
A Hollywood spectacular in the grand tradition, The Fall of the Roman Empire was made following the success of Mann's 1961 widescreen epic El Cid, and features a star-studded cast in an epic re-telling of the last days of the Roman Empire. The set of the forum is said to be the largest ever built for a film. Philip Yordan's intelligent script makes for a sombre, engrossing chronicle and Dimitri Tiomkin was nominated for an Oscar for his score.
Emperor Aurelius is poisoned by his son Commodus who succeeds him, only to bring the once mighty Empire to its knees through pestilence and war with the Barbarians.
Publisher: Anchor Bay
Length: 172 mins
Aspect ratio: widescreen
Cat No: ABD4470
Format: DVD Colour
- 2 discs
- Commentaries: Bill Bronston, Mel Martin
- Documentaries: 'The Rise and Fall of an Empire: An Historical Look at the Real Roman Empire', 'Dimitri Tiomkin: Scoring the Roman Empire', 'Hollywood vs. History: An Historical Analysis', 'Julius Caesar', 'Claudius: Boy of Ancient Rome'
- Bill Deneen New Intro, Original Intro and Life In Ancient Rome, Rome In Madrid: 1964 Promotional Film.