Other Roman Films:
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)
3-Disc Collector's DVD
2-Disc Deluxe DVD
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.
From The Patriot Resource:
plot bears quite a few similarities with The Fall of the Roman Empire
. Here, rather than Maximus
the hero is Livius, who is played by Ben-hur's
Messala, Stephen Boyd. Livius and Lucilla (Sophia Loren) are in love and make no secret of it, while Commodus is once again the spoiled royal son (The Sound of Music
's Christopher Plummer). The story gets going with the death of Marcus Aurelius (The Bridge on the River Kwai
's Alec Guinness). The film is by no means a classic, but still worth watching because of the great cast and director and its similarities to Gladiator
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