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The story is set in Rome around 44 B.C., just after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Octavius, aged 17, who was named heir by Caesar, is challenged by Marc Anthony. A civil war ensues, ending in a showdown between Octavius and Marc Anthony. Written by
When shooting started, the series was supposed to be eight hours long. When it was clear, that the show was going to excessively run over budget, it was cut down to six hours. See more »
During the final battle between Antony's and Octavius's armies, Tyranus removes two silver emblems from his chest to denounce Antony and fight for Octavius. In the next shot, they are there again. Later, they disappear once more. See more »
Not since Alexander the Great has such a burden been placed on the shoulders of one so young. And all the world hinges on the outcome. Watch over him, sweet Vesta, for the trials of Octavius have begun.
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Imagine, 2000 years from now, someone decides to tell the story of George Bush. Sure, there are historical records about the time, but why not just make things up as you go along, to "improve" the story? So...there was once an elected king of America, Bush I, whose son wanted to succeed him; but Bush II was challenged by the evil Prince Gore. The people voted and chose Gore, but the 12 Lords of Justice decided the match should be decided by a duel, in which Bush II killed Gore. Hooray! Then America was attacked by a missile fired by King Saddam of Arabia. Bush II, already famous as a fighter pilot, led a jet attack on Saddam, and brought back his head on a stick, which was mounted atop the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the capitol, New York. And so on...
And that's about how seriously the makers of EMPIRE take one of the most crucial, and well-documented, episodes in all of history, the aftermath of the assassination of Julius Caesar and the beginnings of the Roman Empire. Why bother with the incredibly fascinating reality of the people and their times, when we can just make up anything we want? It's all just fodder for the Hollywood TV grist mill, which provides wish-fulfillment fantasies for viewers whom the filmmakers hold beneath contempt. Sad.
Beyond the ludicrous flights of fancy and boneheaded mistakes, some of the glitches are simply careless bloopers, as when the black general (yes, they made him up, too) refers to the "Serbian Walls" that encircle Rome. They're actually called the Servian Walls, and have been for about 2500 years, but who gives a frack?
But...I'll give EMPIRE 1 star for eye-candy, especially Jonathan (can I have it and eat it, too?) Cake. And another star for some not-bad casting. (Fiona Shaw as Fulvia: "I always leave before the orgy.") The rest is all junk.
Viewers interested in a more serious treatment of the same events might want to watch the Euro mini-series AUGUSTUS (available on DVD), starring Peter O'Toole as the emperor, which includes flashbacks to his early days. It's a far more handsomely produced film, with good battle scenes, great costumes, the most realistic interior and exterior sets so far created for a Roman movie, an intelligent script, and a memorable performance by the great Peter O'Toole.
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