Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire: Season 1, Episode 5

Constantine (19 Oct. 2006)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama, History
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 59 users  
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How the persecution of the Christians ended and the world was changed forever by the hand of one man - Constantine the Great.



, (as Lyall Watson)
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Title: Constantine (19 Oct 2006)

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Episode credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Dale ...
Lyall B. Watson ...
Andrew Westfields ...


Emperors Diocletian's 'Tetrarchy', a hierarchic system of four emperors, fails as they soon fight each-other. Autumn 321, co-emperor Constantines army prepares north of Rome to defeat his tyrannical western rival Maxentius. Clerk Lactantius, whose writings are the major source for this film, tries to convince Constantine to put his faith in the secretive slave religion, Christianity; something in the sky, perhaps a striking meteorite, is taken as a divine sign; he adopts the PX-emblem -crossing Greek letters chi and ro for Christ- to mark his troops' shields, even though the men are reluctant to betray the pagan gods. Maxentius, who just received major reinforcements, bringing his strength to 75,000, lays a trap at the Milvian bridge over the Tiber, but it fails and he drowns. Constantine promises his reign will liberate the people and restores goods and senatorial authority, making his entry a true triumph. Now he turns his attention to the easter half of the empire, and marries off ... Written by KGF Vissers

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19 October 2006 (UK)  »

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Constantine the Great: The army of Rome matches... in the name of the one true God!
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User Reviews

A Good Look at Later Rome and Early Christianity
5 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The best thing that can be said about these next two episodes is that they recreate the props and sets superbly. There are very few movies that take place in this time (I can't think of any except Agora and a cheap peplum from the '60s) and so it's very nice to see these costumes being lived in. The appearance of Rome and the army changed drastically from the Republic and early Empire which what is always being shown on screen. The clothing became more ornate and the armor just... different. It actually looks a lot more medieval than Roman at times. So if nothing else, it is wonderful to see this world recreated for once. Pretty accurately too, although the budget means that some of the ornate costumes look cheaper than they should. This episode has some great battle scenes too. We get to see the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on screen. Even though the number of extras is pretty low (and they tend to reuse marching scenes from previous episodes, they get some good use out of them.

This episode isn't too bad. Apart from the usual docudrama problems it works fairly well. It's about Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor. As such it deals with a lot of religious issues that are of necessity simplified. Constantine often gets a bad rap nowadays. I think that it's probably more to do with what he represents than who he was. He wasn't really any better or worse than any of his fellow emperors but people expect men with Christian ideals to live up to them more and those who aren't religious dislike him for making Christianity the dominant religion in Europe. This episode falls into that trap too, giving a great deal of fuss over Constantine's killing of his rival emperors and their children. True, one of them was his nephew but plenty of Emperors felt the need to wipe out their close relatives due to the threat they posed. Constantine killed his own son for that matter, though they don't cover that in here. On the whole though, it's actually a fairly sympathetic portrayal of Constantine. He's portrayed as power-hungry and untrustworthy but that's emperors for you. You don't get to be the most powerful man in Rome by being a nice guy. He certainly comes off no worse than his rivals, only smarter. He is portrayed as being sincerely religious and generally moody and reserved. I'm not sure I'd consider that accurate in either particular, but it does give him some personality. This episode pays a lot of attention to the women in his life too. Not sure why they chose Constantine for that but it doesn't work too badly. I do wish that they'd chosen an actor who looked a little bit more like Constantine though. He has one of the most recognizable heads of all the Roman Emperors, but they didn't even match his haircut.

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