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Do NOT judge this production by the 2-hour version that was released on VHS in the US, which is a choppy and incomprehensible mess. I had the pleasure of watching the full-length 6-hour version available on DVD from the UK, and was spellbound. The deliberate pace and growing sense of menace are mesmerizing, as is the amazing visual and aural landscape; this is an ancient Rome we have never seen before, and far more authentic than most.
Director Franco Rossi was justly celebrated for his 1968 mini-series of The Odyssey, and this mini-series is equally powerful. Just as Bekim Fehmiu became the screen's best Ulysses, so Klaus Maria Brandauer may be the screen's best Nero. Now, I am hoping someday to see Rossi's version of The Aeneid (Eneide) that was broadcast on Italian TV in 1971.
I am undecided which version of QUO VADIS is more powerful, this one or the Polish mini-series from 2001; each has different virtues, and in many ways they complement one another. Certainly, either one towers over that Hollywood camp-riot starring Peter Ustinov.
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