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>
Nero, in fact, died four years later in history than shown in the film. However, the events surrounding his death (citizens revolting, committing suicide with some outside help) are true to fact. See more »
[in his dying letter to Nero]
To Nero, Emperor of Rome, Master of the World, Divine Pontiff. I know that my death will be a disappointment to you, since you wished to render me this service yourself. To be born in your reign is a miscalculation; but to die in it is a joy. I can forgive you for murdering your wife and your mother, for burning our beloved Rome, for befouling our fair country with the stench of your crimes. But one thing I cannot forgive - the boredom of having to listen to your ...
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The DVD release restores the original overture and exit music, which, up until that point, was only heard in the original roadshow release and in the 1964 roadshow re-release. See more »
You will be worthy of the spectacle - as the spectacle is worthy of you.
General Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) returns to Rome after battle and falls in love with Lygia (Deborah Kerr), an adopted daughter of a fellow general, but effectively a hostage and considered a no no. When she is presented to him as a gift, things are further compounded by the fact that she is in secret a Christian. Enter Emperor Nero (Peter Ustinov) who orders that all Christians must be thrown to the lions, leaving Marcus with no option but to deny his Pretorian ways and to try and save Lygia and her family. Rome, will never be the same again.
A big, bold and lavish historical epic out of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that's directed by Mervyn LeRoy, shot in glorious Technicolor by Robert Surtees & William V. Skall and is scored by Miklós Rózsa. Joining the big hitters in the cast are Leo Genn, Finlay Currie, Felix Aylmer & Abraham Sofaer. While the adaptation of Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel is written by S. N. Behrman, Sonya Levien & John Lee Mahin. There's no denying that Quo Vadis, meaning "where are you going" and appertaining to the encounter between St Peter and Jesus Christ on the Appian Way, is a technical spectacle. It's also tough going for its over talky melodramatics during the first 90 minutes, but you just have to stay with it, once you are in, you are in for the long haul. A whole afternoon in my case!
For its time, this was the bigger than than biggest, a studios dream, the cast of thousands, the sets, the costumes and the gazillion speaking parts that make up the story. It's also a point where the historical epic became more than just entertainment and a reason to make money. No doubt about it, Quo Vadis is very pro Christian, it has something to say, even if ultimately it takes a long time to say it and is historically dubious. There's thought and intelligence within, with that, it pays to pay attention and sample the dialogue whilst feasting your eyes on the magnificence that surrounds the characters. Once the worthwhile action kicks in, it's no let down, the fights in the Coliseum, the burning of Rome (we can thank the great Anthony Mann for that one) and the dramatic climax, all make the time spent leading up to them more than worth it. The cast are mostly agreeable, Kerr is gorgeous as ever and Taylor is, ahem, straight as ever, while Ustinov goes full tilt campy loony. Genn steals the movie as Petronius while Patricia Laffan as Poppaea Sabina gives one of the most sensually minx like portrayals given in an historical epic.
Some may find the religiose aspects over bearing, but the spectacle does win out. Looking as gorgeous as ever now after being remastered, Quo Vadis is a must see for like minded historical epic fans. It's some way down the pecking order of the genre greats, but still a must see movie regardless. 7/10
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