During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion against foreigners in China, U.S. Marine Major Matt Lewis, aided by British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson, devises a strategy to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force arrives.
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
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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