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 ... See full summary »
Sophia Loren plays a dual role, as both the sultry Queen of the Nile with a "man-a-night" appetite and a beautiful slave girl who takes her place and is wooed by a bodyguard who thinks she's the real monarch.
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Peter Mark Richman
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
It's particularly interesting to compare this movie with Gladiator (2000), as both take the same historical event as a starting point. While the fight scenes are more exciting in Gladiator, and while Gladiator is probably the superior film overall, this film does have three distinct advantages.
First of all, the armies and crowds are better here - it's real people and not computer generated icons. Some of the marching scenes were a bit lengthy for my tastes, but the soldiers, the horses, the armor, the swords and spears, all of it, were very authentic and impressive. Second, as the armies look more realistic, so do the sets. We do not see the coliseum in this film, but we do see the palaces, pools, forts and throne rooms. Very exciting. Third, and perhaps most importantly, this film has superior acting. Christopher Plummer is probably the best thing here - his Commodus is at once more dastardly and more likeable than that of Gladiator; again, this means more realistic. James Mason is also in top form, here; for once, he does not play a slippery philanderer.
There is something flawed about this film that I can't quite put my finger on. It does not reach the heights of other 50s and 60s epics such as The Ten Commandments or Ben-Hur. Still, it is a dramatic and at times moving film. It does convey the gravity (some might say tragedy) of the Empire's fall and the pax romana that never was.
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