Intent on securing peace and prosperity throughout the mighty Roman Empire, the wise diplomat, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, calls together the local governors from all over the Empire, after conquering the Germanic tribes. With this in mind, Marcus has decided to turn over his crown and the much-coveted imperial throne to General Livius, instead of choosing his corrupt son and logical successor, Commodus. As a result, high treason and blind ambition lead to the death of Aurelius by poisoning, paving the way for a new era of oppression, endless machinations, and rapid decline. Now, as darkness prevails on the outskirts of the Empire where the Roman legions struggle to subdue the invading hordes, delusional Commodus declares himself a god, and no one is safe; not even Aurelius' daughter, Lucilla. Can anyone stop the fall of the Roman Empire?Written by
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 »
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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