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The mini-series follows the history of the Roman Empire, from approximately the death of Marcellus (24/23 BC) to Claudius' own death in 54 AD. As Claudius narrates his life, we witness Augustus' attempts to find an heir, often foiled by his wife Livia who wants her son Tiberius to become emperor. We also see the conspiracy of Sejanus, the infamous reign of Caligula, and Claudius' own troubled period of rule. Written by
Erika Grams <email@example.com>
Without doubt, the finest Television adaptation ever!
What can one say that has not already been said about this true masterwork of television? Well, I, Claudius has been a part of my life since I was very young, when me and my mum used to sit and watch, totally rapt in the labyrinthine shenanighans of this most horrid little story...although, at 12 hours long, the story is hardly tiny, but horrid it most certainly is. Every episode is filled with intrigue, murder, violence, nudity, back-stabbing, plotting, incest, insanity and everything else one usually connects with this barbaric, nasty little page of history. The Roman Empire was probably the most corrupt moment of history and Robert Graves' epic novels, here turned into stunning drama by Jack Pulman's brilliant script, blows every other BBC drama clean out of the water. And as for the acting...Brian Blessed is a tornado as the weak-willed Emperor Augustus, while John Hurt gives one of his finest performances as the insane, decadent Caligula. But the true star of this fabulous course of debauchery is Sian Phillips' scheming, evil bitch of Rome, Livia. In one of the finest scenes in the drama, she confronts Claudius and reveals the treachery which has singlehandedly rid herself of all those who have stood in her way, including her own husband. It is a powerhouse performance, and her departure from the second part of the show is sorely missed, but this is compensated for when Hurt takes centre-stage when his unhinged Caligula (nice boy!) plunges Rome into lower depths of depravity and madness. Derek Jacobi, as the foolish, but wise Claudius gives us just enough of his presence to make us aware he is watching quietly while the murders occur, but his presence pervades the entire piece due to his diction, his amazingly baritone voice and because he narrates, even when his birth has not actually occured yet. All in all, a stunning, marvellous piece of entertainment which will never be beaten. I happen to own the entire series on video, and it gets an airing at least once a year...with each new watch revealing subtleties i missed last time. I implore anyone who lives Ancient Rome, good drama or just likes a long wallow in unrepentant horror and blood to watch this drama. You will not be disappointed. Brilliant!!
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