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The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 26 March 1964 (USA)
The death of Marcus Aurelius leads to a succession crisis, in which the deceased emperor's son, Commodus, demonstrates that he is unwilling to let anything undermine his claim to the Roman Empire.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Cleander
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Julianus
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Polybius
Douglas Wilmer ...
Niger
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Norman Wooland ...
Virgilianus
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Storyline

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 filmfactsman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Magnificent Re-Creation . . . Of An Ancient Empire . . . Launches A New Epoch In Motion Pictures . . . See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 March 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La caída del imperio romano  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$4,750,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1970 re-release)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints)| (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Adjusted for inflation, this lost a phenomenal $126m for its investors. See more »

Goofs

When Commodus and Livius are holding the torch during Marcus Aurelius' funeral pyre, their hands move further away from the flame between shots. See more »

Quotes

Timonides: Men of Rome, men of Rome! Do not touch these people, they have become your brothers. They're Roman now. The whole Northern people will answer with fire and blood, their hatred will live for centuries. Men of Roman blood will pay for this. You will make nations to kill us all. Let us live in peace!Peace!
[Timonides is killed with a javelin in the chest]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Biography: Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

Far too literate a film for lovers of epic action
2 November 2002 | by (Longmont, Colorado) – See all my reviews

The inspiration and source material for GLADIATOR in case you hadn't noticed. This particular historical romp coming very late in the epic cycle in the 60's was a masterpiece of script, direction and set construction. You may have thought the Colosseum in GLADIATOR was impressive - digitised though it was, but compare it to the jaw-dropping scenes in Commodus' Rome - and they BUILT those! Ridley Scott used LESS than 50 people in his Colosseum scenes - every ONE of the thousands of Roman citizens you see, are there! To film this today with the same realism would cost $600-800,000 perhaps one billion plus!

Other scenes, such as the funeral of Aurelius are simply spinal-tap if you have the slightest understanding of what you are seeing. Most people didn't

  • leaving the theater (even in the 60's) feeling they'd just sat through a
history seminar rather than an entertaining movie. I suppose it comes down to WHAT exactly "entertains" you? Master director Martin Scorcese (an extremely literate man himself) singled this movie out as one to study for those interested in the history of American Film...I wonder why?

Curiously the role of Marcus Aurelius was the highlight (acting wise) of both THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE and GLADIATOR. Sir Alec Guinness gave us a totally masterful and benevolent emperor here in just the same way that the late Richard Harris dominated GLADIATOR during his on-screen moments. The film was one to LISTEN to, to reflect on...not too munch popcorn and watch the big men fly! James Mason as Timonides, gave one of his most enduring and touching roles....he was actually injured during that scene with the lance and was unable to film for a few days.

Comments that Boyd was "wooden" and Plummer "over the top," irritate me also. Livius was a noble man of integrity - that's how Boyd portrayed him, these weren't times for off-the-cuff humor. Similarly, evidence exists that Commodus himself was not the "thinking man's choice" of emperor - cruel, vengeful and way left-field of normal! Plummer brought all this out rather well I thought. It doesn't matter a whole lot to me OR Anthony Mann I suppose, what YOU thought about it! Sophia Loren? Not your average "legally blonde" Romanic bimbo either. The epitome of poise and elegance...way too "wooden" for the new millennium!

I believe the FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE is right up there with BEN HUR and Stanley Kubrick's SPARTACUS. Most any intelligent and perceptive person would agree! I would happily have watched it for 280 minutes!


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