In 42 BC Rome is in the middle of a civil war. Together with his friend AGRIPPA, the young Augustus goes to Spain in order to help JULIUS CAESAR in his struggle against the troops of POMPEY. Even though they are outnumbered, they manage to defeat Pompey. Caesar honours his adopted son Augustus with a triumphal entry into Rome and then sends him to Greece together with his friends Agrippa and Maecenas. There, Augustus hears the news of Caesar's assassination and he returns to Rome with his friends. Back in Rome, he is able to gain both the support of the people and political power. In his struggle with the conspirators against Caesar he finds an ally in MARC ANTONY. Marc Antony not only pursues BRUTUS and CASSIUS, he also initiates a wave of executions which practically eliminates the old Roman ruling class. Among those who are killed is the husband of LIVIA DRUSILLA, a woman with whom Augustus had been in love as a young man. Through a combination of good luck and chance, Augustus and... Written by
Titus Vossberg based the villa decoration on actual Roman decorations. The wall painting of the study, the atrium, Augustus' bedroom and Julia's bedroom were all inspired by the authentic wall paintings that originally came from a villa belonging to Agrippa and Julia. See more »
The legions in the founding of the Second Triumvirate are going into battle but not carrying their standards. Roman legions *always* carried their standards. See more »
Politicians are run by swords, legions - that is the only language Rome understands!
You know nothing of Rome, country boy.
And you know nothing of life.
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AUGUSTUS isn't the best it could be, lacking the historical accuracy that previous reviewers have been kicking a screaming about; it is because of the pointless stereotypical Julia, who is always made out to be a villain and Augustus a wounded. However, the tales of Augustus daughter Julia are mainly made of rumours, the likelihood she was a prostitute is slim and chances are Iullus was one of her only, if not only, lover. Read your historical notes and what historians say today, chances are you'll find her in a new light. AUGUSTUS shows Julia as the wounded daughter she was; mistreated and thrown around just for her father's own delights. When you consider that he treated her like that and that she had a father who led a far kinkier and scandalous sex life, is it any wonder his daughter, who apart from her adulteries had no bad vein in her body, ended up the way she did?
Augustus (Peter O'Toole) is on his deathbed, overlooking how he "played his part in this comedy called life," and he takes us back several years to the high point of his rein. His daughter Julia (Vittoria Belvedere) is married to his beloved friend and ally, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and together the two have had a pair of lovely sons, Gaius and Lucius, who are "just like their grandfather" and running around in army gear, rather like how Julia's daughter Agrippina (oddly missing from the movie) would do for her youngest son Gaius, or Caligula, thirty or so years later. Of course, the bubble bursts when Augustus is nearly murdered by an assassin, only saved by his leather breast plate, and Julia receives dreadful news: her husband Agrippa has died. He tells her of his earlier days when he was a sickly eighteen-year-old, who one day gets a letter from Julius Caesar, despite the pleas of his mother, "Your father would forbid it!" Octavius (Benjamin Sander) reminds her that, "only your uncle treats me like a son," leaps on a horse with Marcus Agrippa (Ken Duken) another eighteen-year-old, who dreams of becoming a soldier, to join the army. The story seems to take us through a romanticised view of Octavius growth into manhood along side his two friends Marcus Agrippa and Gaius Maecenas (Russell Barr), a man who is clearly thrown in for a giggle.
Agrippa represents the world that we all want to be apart of, yet he doesn't live in a fool's paradise like Octavius does, and towards the end of the flashbacks he finally pulls his friend out of belief that sticking to the nobles will save him; he has to suppress them. Interestingly, they show us how Agrippa built the great aqueducts, proving himself not only to be a great soldier but also one of history's great architect. Ironically, Maecenas mocks him by saying, "At least we'll be able to get some lovely fountains out of it!" Cleopatra is just as she should be, not a Liz Taylor but a real malicious mastermind. Julia does as she's told but is so trapped that she can't help but loom for ways out. Tiberius is a pig and his mother Livia too ambitious, and it's refreshing that Augustus actually "gets" that Livia wants Tiberius to be emperor. Iullus Antonius, who wants revenge for his father's murder at first, uses the vulnerable widow of Agrippa to in his plan. The irony being of course that lovely Agrippa warned Octavius when he saved Iullus' life that this would one day come to pass. In a way, Iullus cheats both his saviours, not only seducing Augustus' daughter but also taking Agrippa's wife and using her against the man he spent his whole life protecting. Of course the plot falls through when Iullus ends up falling in love with her proving himself a true Antonius boy"a woman changed Antony, you could change Iullus" Augustus says and by god, Julia does.
The acting is still great, though many see O'Toole as the best: the desperation of Belvedere's Julia, the cunning of Rampling's Livia, the nobleness of Duken's Agrippa and the deep love that Barr's Maecenas has for Augustus really does touch you and makes their characters come alive.
The only thing that is disappointing is that it didn't cover the whole of the history, the Battle of Actium was rushed, we never see two of Augustus wives and we don't know what happened after the civil war was over, which is probably some of the most interesting part. Various other characters were clearly cut to save time for the film, Octavia's first husband, her children, Fulvia, Sextus, Drusus, who was Livia's other son and various others. If anything, this show would have been better off as a mini series and covering other important parts of history like the self-exile of Agrippa because of Marcellus, and how his death resulted in Agrippa's marriage to Juliathat would have been a story worth hearing.
If you're not interested in history, then you could just watch it for its soap opera feel, with the drama, attempted assassination and Julia's affair with Iullus Antonius driving her husband into raping her, we might as well have been watching an ancient rendition of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, only it's much better! Boys will also be happy to see that they get a hot babe to stare at in the form of Augustus' daughter Julia for half of the film. Don't worry, fear not girls, because in the other half, ladies such as us, also get a hot and handsome treat in the form Agrippa. My point being is that there is something for everyone. Filled with comic relief, a few wars, a few scandals, a troublesome wife, a few hot wild affairs, a hot chick for the boys and a cute guy for the girls, it pretty much does have everything you need to make history come alive.
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