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The Fall of the Roman Empire (Widescreen 2 Disc Deluxe Edition) [Import]

Sophia Loren , Stephen Boyd , Anthony Mann    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 27.90
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The Fall of the Roman Empire (Widescreen 2 Disc Deluxe Edition) [Import] + Ulysses [Import]
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Product Description


The second and last of Anthony Mann's historical epics is a smart, handsome spectacle of the decadence, corruption, and intrigue that tears apart the greatest empire the world has seen. The sprawling story spreads itself thin over a number of characters and stories. At the center are handsome but stiff Stephen Boyd as Livius, the loyal soldier and symbolic son of the aging emperor (Alec Guinness), and Christopher Plummer as Commodus, the corrupt heir to the throne--boyhood friends turned enemies when the latter accedes to the throne and sells out the values of his father for greed and hedonistic pleasures. The three-hour running time is filled out with the tales of Sophia Loren (as the beautiful Lucilla in love with Livius but coveted by greedy Commodus) and a gallery of heroes and villains that includes James Mason, Mel Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, John Ireland, Omar Sharif, and Eric Porter. The film is highlighted with spectacular scenes (a grandiose funeral fit for an emperor, brutal battles in the provinces as the barbarians threaten the empire, and a climactic duel to decide the destiny of Rome), which Mann weaves into the shadowy intrigue of the halls of power. Like his previous epic El Cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire remains one of the best of the 1960s epics: well written (and largely historically accurate) with strong performances and a consistently elegant style, but it lacks a central core and the magnetic hero of its superior predecessor. --Sean Axmaker

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1964: always one of the greatest movies! May 19 2001
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE in 1964, when it was released for movie theaters. I saw it in Toronto, 4 times, 4 evenings in a row. I was simply appalled by the actorship of some of the greatest to have been seen obn a screen. The story itself respected a great deal what the historians related about the last says of emperor Marcus Aurelius, and the tragic taking-up of power by his mad son, Marcus Aurelius Commodus. Not to mention the grandiose musical score by one of the greatest, Dimitri Tiomkin ( I still have the vinyl LP, and play it regularly, when I want to get in the mood of ancient Rome ).
Yesterday, I viewed " GLADIATOR ". It certainly did ring a bell. Although I enjoyed the Ridley Scott epic, as well as the fine play of actors such as Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, I am sorry to say this most modern production has to be rated quite a few steps below its 1964 predecessor.
Thanks for letting me the chance to express my opinion
Pierre Gauthier
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars History vs Hollywood May 12 2004
Format:VHS Tape
The screenwriter of "Gladiator" claims not to have seen "The Fall of the Roman Empire" before writing the Ridley Scott film. That's odd since both films are bookended exactly the same way. Both open with Emperor Marcus Aurelius deciding that his son Commodus should not be emperor (a decision that leads to his murder). Both end with the fight between Commodus and the army commander within the shields of the Pretorian Guards. As a matter of fact, neither of these events are historically accurate.
Marcus Aurelius (according the Edward Gibbon and other historians) dealt the Empire a long-term blow when he broke with tradition by choosing his only surviving son, Commodus, to be his successor, rather than following the tradition of chosing the best man for the job and officially adopting him. To the consternation of his legions, Aurelius never chose a military commander over his own son. When you decide to abandon actual history at the very beginning of your story, the rest falls apart.
Secondly, Commodus was murdered by his concubine (who drugged his wine) and a wrestler (who strangled him) in his palace. In fact, it took a few days for everyone in Rome to come to finally believe that he was actually dead. HE WAS NOT KILLED in a single-handed combat with the commander of the army (either Stephen Boyd or Russell Crowe).
Third, there is no historical evidence that a group of barbarians were burned alive in the Roman forum, as this 1964 film depects. The screenwriter seems to have simply lost his grip on any sort of reality and went totally "Hollywood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
After watching the excellent "Fall of the Roman Empire," it is perfectly clear where "Gladiator" stole many of its ideas and themes. The great director, Anthony Mann, who made this movie following the immense "El Cid," again works on a vast canvas and what scenes he conjures up! "Gladiator" tries to do this with new digital technology and with lesssor results. Alec Guiness is wonderfully cast as the philosopher-emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and when he's on the screen, ancient historical thought comes alive. Stephen Boyd is fine but just more of a gentle Roman general than his wonderfully evil Messala in "Ben-Hur." Sophia Loren is luminous but for some reason her director(Anthony Mann) gets her to sleep-walk through two epics in a row and have unconvincing tears gather at her tear ducts. Mann knows how to handle great armies and this film is full of wonderfully imagined battles, marches into cities, and pomp and violence. It is a long movie with some slow spots, especially when Guiness dies, but Christopher Plummer as Commodus completely makes me forget Joaquin Phoenix in "Gladiator," for Plummer is a great actor who gives Commodus so many facets and watch his relationship with Boyd and their final fight to the finish and you'll see where the seeds of the ending to "Gladiator" were sown. Are all Germans blonde? In this movie they are all blonde and rather ridiculously portrayed, as if the director was looking for a certain "barbarian" look. If they were that stupid and unsavory, how did they fight to bring down an empire? We get some ideas here how Rome changed. James Mason plays a pupil of Marcus Aurelius and he also is a great actor and his torture scene is strangely moving. Read more ›
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