Marcus Vinicius meets Lygia in Rome and falls in love. But she is Christian and doesn't want anything to do with him. Marcus decides to kidnap her but Ursus, her bodyguard, catches Marcus. ... See full summary »
Returning to Rome after three years in the field, General Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) meets Lygia (Deborah Kerr) and falls in love with her, though as a Christian, she wants nothing to do with a warrior. Though she grew up Roman, the adopted daughter of a retired General, Lygia is technically a hostage of Rome. Marcus gets Emperor Nero (Sir Peter Ustinov) to give her to him for services rendered, but finds himself succumbing gradually to her Christian faith.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The original novel and this cinema version of it are two very different kettles of fish!
A fellow IMDb-er from Poland, defending Henryk Sienkiewicz's monumental, Nobel Prize-winning novel (which I HAVE read, by the way) calls this M-G-M Technicolor spectacle "CRAP"!
Please! The novel is incredibly dense and detailed; possibly a lot truer to what was known in the early part of the twentieth century of the actual events of the time of its plot; with lots of references to the cruelty and luxury of Nero's Rome; frequent mentions of the pervasive nudity under all kinds of circumstances among the Romans of the time; and, given its length, a perhaps more respectful view of the emergence of Christianity at a time when its converts risked their very lives to admit their beliefs. There is no way that even a multi-part TV mini-(I mean, maxi-)series could come close to approximating the novel's overwhelming complexity.
But, as a piece of filmed entertainment, this cinema extravaganza is not at all worthy of being consigned to the proverbial garbage heap. The cast, yes, including Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr, but, especially the supporting actors (Peter Ustinov, of course; plus Leo Genn, in particular, as well as Patricia Laffan, Marina Berti, Finlay Currie, Felix Aylmer, Rosalie Crutchley, et al.) all take full advantage of a script that had many witty as well as dramatic moments and, for its day, a fairly reverent (though not historically accurate) rendering of Christianity's emergence in a hostile Roman world.
In addition its production values have never been surpassed; in fact, they've never been equalled. One understands how beleaguered those of Polish descent often must feel (I, for one, have never been a fan of so-called "Polish jokes."), but let's not set impossible standards for a translation of one of Poland's most memorable literary achievements! This production is an example of Hollywood marshalling some impressive resources, while avoiding more than a modicum of the cliches that can sabotage such a project. It may not honor its source as some might wish, but it's still a quite grand and opulently eye-filling way to enjoy close to three hours.
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