HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
Butterfly Murders, The
Pimp
Feedback
Lady is a Square, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
   
 
  Fall of the Roman Empire, The Epic Fail
Year: 1964
Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Christopher Plummer, Alec Guinness, James Mason, Anthony Quayle, John Ireland, Omar Sharif, Mel Ferrer, Eric Porter, Finlay Currie, Andrew Keir, Douglas Wilmer, George Murcell, Norman Wooland, Michael Gwynn
Genre: War, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: During the 2nd Century A.D. the Roman Empire began to wane, and though it took three hundred years for it to truly come undone, the seeds were being sown with the reign of Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness) who was spending most of his time trying to bring peace to the Northern territories of the Empire. The Barbarians were threatening to take over there, and though he was keen to set up talks with their leader, all they wanted to do was fight. His right hand man here was Livius (Stephen Boyd), a loyal commander of the troops and his possible successor - but it was his son Commodus (Christopher Plummer) who he should have watched out for...

The Fall of the Roman Empire, perhaps fittingly, marked the fall of something else, and that was the end of the Hollywood epic. Obviously they did not die out altogether, and the blockbuster age found other ways of providing spectacle, but such was the huge amount of money and labour involved in this that when it flopped very few studios thought it was a terrific idea to splash the cash on a historical yarn taking in massive sets and countless extras, all in period costume. So with that in mind this Samuel Bronston production, pretty much the last of his mega-projects when they became too expensive to mount - the Rome set here remains the largest ever built - has attracted a certain amount of interest.

In the same way that people like to watch major disasters on the news, maybe, but for slightly different reasons: no loss of life here, other than the fictional variety. When Ridley Scott's Gladiator was released to enormous success in 2000, there were those who thought it seemed a little familiar, and that was due to it lifting the central premise of this 1964 movie and adapting it to their purposes, with more emphasis on the, well, gladiatorial arena as you might have guessed. It was true that Emperor Commodus liked to combat gladiators, always winning naturally, but he did not meet is demise in that way, so when the Scott movie took exactly the same ending for his film as happened in this one, there were those who saw a remake there.

Uncredited, that was, but still enough to revive the former flop and rescue it from its relegation to occasional showings on television and see it reassessed as more worthwhile. But that was lauding it too highly, as if you were honest you could well see why it was not simply a fatigue with a genre that had been packing the audiences in since the late forties in its most profligate form, for there was a distinct lack of charisma to the characters. Not the fault of the actors, they had all proved themselves elsewhere, often in this style of movie, but from a script so concerned with warning us of the downfall of civilisation that it forgot to illustrate why that was such a bad thing in this case.

Luckily James Mason was present as Timonides, the ex-slave turned advisor to Marcus and the man whose speeches delineate why the Romans should be pursuing peace rather than their tried and tested warlike nature when it came to ruling the lands in their Empire. He makes a good point, so is naturally first up against the wall come the arrival of unimpressed centurions, but before that Marcus's daughter Lucilla finds her similar pleas for calm and consideration fall on deaf ears. She was played by top-billed Sophia Loren in a thankless role which saw most of her emoting relying on the tears in her eyes, but as the sole significant female role to be seen she did stand out, after all how could she not?

Plummer camped it up something rotten as Commodus, all but twirling his moustache in his villainy and obviously harking back to Peter Ustinov as Nero in Quo Vadis, but it wasn't quite enough to make the three hour running time feel any shorter. Throw in a beefy Anthony Quayle with a secret, Omar Sharif as an Armenian King with about three lines in total, a blind and scheming Mel Ferrer, and John Ireland as Hagar the Horrible, and you had a cast not lacking in names, but too often they fell back on the broadest form of performing to be heard over the grandeur around them. The earlier scenes in the North were the most visually striking, genuinely unlike the average epic with their snowy battle sequences (plus a Ben Hur-reminiscent chariot race), an inhospitable contrast to the more traditional Roman sets and their comfortable-so-far decadence. So there were points of interest, but most were the sheer, crazy ambition of this folly on the grandest cinematic scale. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2873 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: