A wonderful and expansive recounting of the life and times of Rome's first emperor, Augustus Caesar. A conversation between Augustus and his daughter Julia provides the narration that covers the early years of his life through to his death.
The story begins with us finding Augustus, after many years on the throne, walking among the enthusiastic crowd in the Roman Forum. Their reaction seems authentically happy to be close to a popular leader who is now in the latter years of a long and successful career. From here we travel back with Augustus to Spain, Egypt, Greece, and of course Rome and spend time with Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, Marcus Agrippa, and his wife Livia. All these characters are given depth and you truly get a view into why they may have done the things they did.
The settings are generally good and the reproduction of the Forum, while not perfect, is among the best I've seen.
My only significant criticism is the unevenness of how some of the dialog is presented. It seems that many of the actors were not speaking English and their voices overdubbed in English. This sometimes breaks the flow of the dialog and makes it appear unnatural. Hence I believe it rates a 4 star rating rather than 5. Other than that, the acting is very good, especially that of Peter O'Tool who delivers a very convincing elder Augustus. Some critics have cited flaws in the history it portrays, especially around the character of Julia. True or not, this in no significant way takes away from the production.
It's tempting to compare this to the BBC's landmark production of "I Claudius" or the Hollywood production of "Cleopatra". Overall "I Claudius" is a better production but is sometimes too myopic; one gets the feeling from "I Claudius" that the emperors never ventured outside a few rooms in their palace. Compared to "Cleopatra", this production provides less Hollywood-type settings and more depth to the characters.
A must see for any enthusiast of Roman History or anyone who has a child who does not always follow your wishes.