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Action-packed look at the beginnings of the fall of the Roman Empire. Here is the glory, the greed and grandeur that was Rome. Here is the story of personal lust for power, and the shattering effects of that power's loss. Here is the tale of the plight of a people living on the brink of a political abyss. Written by
Historical and epic film with big budget financed by the great producer Samuel Bronston
The movie deals with Marco Aurelio (Alec Guinness) of the dynasty of Antoninos, formed by : Nerva , Trajano , Adriano , Antonino Pio , Marco Aurelio and Commodo (Christopher Plummer ), after that , there happens many riots and coups d'etat until Diocleciano , who imposed peace and order with the tetrarchy . Being dead Marco Aurelio, succeeded his son Commodo , a nutty and gladiator emperor , he'll take on his sister Drusilla (Sophia Loren) and Livio (Stephen Boyd replaced Charlton Heston) . They'll have to fight against German barbarians (commanded by John Ireland) and Persians (ruled by Omar Shariff).
In the picture there are struggles , epic events , a love history and is very interesting , in spite of the fact that the runtime is overlong : two hours and half . Alec Guinness as a stoic and thoughtful philosopher emperor and craving the ¨pax Roman¨ is top notch . Christopher Plummer's interpretation as the nut-head son is first rate , while Stephen Boyd and Sophia Loren are a bit wooden . James Mason as the broody and good Marco Aurelio's adviser is excellent . The film was originally intended to be made after El Cid and to reunite Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren . The set for the Forum Romanum was actually being built when Heston rejected the script but expressed an interest in '55 Days at Peking' instead . Samuel Bronston immediately ordered that the work on the Forum be stopped and the landscaping and foundation work be adapted for the Peking set . After filming, the Peking set was torn down and replaced by the Forum , if you look carefully, both sets share a very similar topography . Colosanti and John Moore production design is breathtaking . Battles staged by Yakima Canutt are incredible and impressive . Scenarios are overwhelming : the Roman Forum , Roman Capitol , the temples...the sets are spellbound . Colorful cinematography by Robert Krasker is awesome , similar to Dimitri Tiomkin's fascinating and romantic musical score . Anthony Mann's direction in his last film is spectacular and outstanding . The motion picture didn't obtain success at the box office , it was a real flop and collapsed Samuel Bronston's empire . Rating : Well worth Watching . Very Good.
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