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The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

The death of Marcus Aurelius leads to a succession crisis, in which the deceased emperor's son, Commodus, demonstrates that he is unwilling to let anything undermine his claim to the Roman Empire.

Director:

Anthony Mann

Writers:

Ben Barzman (screenplay), Basilio Franchina (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sophia Loren ... Lucilla
Stephen Boyd ... Livius
Alec Guinness ... Marcus Aurelius
James Mason ... Timonides
Christopher Plummer ... Commodus
Anthony Quayle ... Verulus
John Ireland ... Ballomar
Omar Sharif ... Sohamus
Mel Ferrer ... Cleander
Eric Porter ... Julianus
Finlay Currie ... Senator
Andrew Keir ... Polybius
Douglas Wilmer ... Niger
George Murcell ... Victorinus
Norman Wooland Norman Wooland ... Virgilianus
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Storyline

Action-packed look at the beginnings of the fall of the Roman Empire. Here is the glory, the greed and grandeur that was Rome. Here is the story of personal lust for power, and the shattering effects of that power's loss. Here is the tale of the plight of a people living on the brink of a political abyss. Written by filmfactsman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Their world was ending...the barbarians were at the gate...this was the time when passions, appetites, emotions ran wild See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La caĆ­da del imperio romano See more »

Filming Locations:

Comunidad Valenciana, Spain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,750,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1970 re-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm optical prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Christopher Plummer was amazed at the lavishness and no-expense-spared aspect of the production, a Rolls Royce was at his disposal for the entire duration of the shooting. This was a far cry from Samuel Bronston's previous King of Kings (1961), where Jeffrey Hunter and Robert Ryan's car broke down on the way to the "Sermon on the Mount" scene, and they had to push it to get it started...in costume as Jesus Christ and John the Baptist. See more »

Goofs

It is general opinion that Marcus Aurelius was not assassinated, neither by poison, as in THE FALL, nor by asphyxiation, as in Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR. Instead the general conclusion is that MA died of disease, aggravated by exhaustion after endless years of constant fighting. See more »

Quotes

Timonides: [when Ballomar threatens to continue burning Timonides's left hand] Let's look at this logically...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Paramount logo did not appear on American prints. See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Night at the Movies: The Gigantic World of Epics (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Nail in the Coffin
17 October 2006 | by OttoVonBSee all my reviews

the philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guiness) summons the leaders of the Empire to the northern Frontier. he plans to announce his desire to place his power in the hands of his loyal star general (Boyd), rather than to his wild, unpredictable son Commodus (Plummer). He is killed before doing so and the Empire crumbles under Commodus.

"The Fall of the Roman Empire" was the nail in its genre's coffin. Ponderous, expensive, it bombed and put the swords'n'sandals epic in a coma for a good 34 years, until the arrival of "Gladiator", with which it shares quite a few story similarities. But where Ridley Scott's film is lean and mean, Anthony Mann's is slow, stately and overly in love with its production design. It also has undeniable weaknesses. Stephen Boyd is bland and uninteresting, Sophia Lauren is painfully bad in many scenes, and the haughty tone is often overbearing, as if the film were too important to bother with simple, human emotions (though whenever it does, it fails, as the calamitous romantic scenes prove). It never helps that the music is ghastly beyond words.

This epic does have its supporters, however, and a few very precise elements are the cause of that: the sets are indeed sumptuous, John Mason keeps his dignity and his scenes with Alec Guiness are a pleasure to watch. The hero to worship here is Christopher Plummer. Plummer can do dark and ambitious, but he is unnervingly charming and dangerous as Commodus.

So in fewer words: not a complete waste of your time. A film that could have been better with different actors as its romantic leads.


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