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This costume series portrays aspects of life in Pompeii, a coastal luxury resort near Naples catering for the very rich of imperial Rome, mainly before but culminating in the eruption of the Vesuvian volcano, which wipes it from the face of the earth. The main characters include Diomed, a common upstart merchant whose self-made riches from trade allow him to consider running for political office against sitting city magistrate Quintus and an impoverished aristocratic marriage for his daughter Julia; the cultivated Greek Glaucus; the gladiator Lydon; the noble-born Antonius and his sister Ione, the evil Isis-priest Arbaces who is after (their) money and power; the persecution-fearing Christian slaves Petrus, his true love Chloe and their secret leader Olinthus. Written by
Are you not entertained?!!! (Rumble) Ummm...Let's get outta here!
79 A.D. 52 years into Pax Romana and 46 years after the death of Christ, Decadent Pompeiians make life uncomfortable for Christians when they aren't outright killing them. Wealthy citizens struggle to relate to their slaves whilst social climbing. Slaves, as depicted here generally appear more concerned with self-esteem issues than how back-breaking their labour is and the volcano behind them is set to blow any minute.
A decadent coast city with flaky rich people, wide-scale prostitution, and a dangerous cult all co-existing while the ground shakes? It is like modern Los Angeles only without the hard drugs or racial tensions.
The easiest criticism to make about this mini-series is that it tries to tell too many stories at once and tells none of them properly with an ending alluded to not merely by history but the title. A grab bag of subplots on offer have a few intriguing elements amidst the mostly boring ones but added together they make for an incoherent muddled mess interlocking too neatly at the end.
There are a lot of examples of clunky historical epic expositional dialogue beyond the narrator at the beginning which turns into heavy-handed metaphysical discussion the viewer might not be ready for.
Whatever potential appeal this mini-series might have had appears to have heavily been placed upon a location shoot and legacy casting of actors who had triumphed in roles set in the ancient world.
Olivia Hussey and Ernest Borgnine had both been in Jesus of Nazareth (1977) along with Lord Laurence Olivier who had of course also appeared in Spartacus (1960). Anthony Quayle had been in Masada (1981) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964). Brian Blessed and David Robb had been in I,Claudius (1976). Brian Coburn was in Julius Caesar (1979) and The Day Christ Died (1980). Howard Goorney was in Antony & Cleopatra (1981) and Peter & Paul (1981). Stephen Grief was in The Cleopatras (1983). Nicholas Clay played the title role in The Search For Alexander the Great (1981). Howard Lang had been in Ben-Hur (1959). Marilu Tolo is credited as having been in several gladiator movies in the 1960s.
As for the much celebrated homoerotic undertones, I cannot really say I know what those might be but my guess would be they has to do with Lydon - the gladiator played by Canadian actor Duncan Regehr. Different people look for different things I reckon and because of it they might see things which are not there.
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