6.7/10
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103 user 33 critic

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 26 March 1964 (USA)
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 »
Reviews
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 ... 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:

The Most Magnificent Re-Creation . . . Of An Ancient Empire . . . Launches A New Epoch In Motion Pictures . . . See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La caída del imperio romano See more »

Filming Locations:

Comunidad Valenciana, Spain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)
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

Richard Harris was originally cast as Commodus. He withdrew because of artistic differences with Director Anthony Mann. He was cast as Commodus' father Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator (2000). See more »

Goofs

When Commodus and Livius are holding the torch during Marcus Aurelius' funeral pyre, their hands move further away from the flame between shots. 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 »

Alternate Versions

The non-roadshow version was cut to 153 minutes from the original 172 minutes running time. See more »

Connections

Referenced in 'Kingdom of Heaven': Interactive Production Grid (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
All Roads Lead to Rome
23 October 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I saw another reviewer remark that he regretted the fact that films like this are not made today. In today's dollars the salaries of all the name actors who appeared in The Fall of the Roman Empire might retire the debt of some third world country. Then again, I think that was part of the message this film was trying to convey.

All roads lead to Rome was certainly a popular saying way back in the day. The legions by 180 have conquered a big chunk of Europe and a lot of Asia Minor, but it's becoming too big to police. Emperor Marcus Aurelius has it in mind that there must be a better way of securing peace than having a big Roman military industrial complex on the empire payroll. Answer, make the outlying provinces all Roman citizens and equalize the distribution of economic goods. Back then all those Roman roads gradually became one way streets.

Unfortunately some folks who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, do in Marcus. He's succeeded by his son Commodus and the film is the story of Commodus who has a more traditional political view and those who want to bring about the ideal world that Marcus Aurelius envisioned.

In a role that cried out for either Kirk Douglas or Charlton Heston, we got Stephen Boyd instead. Boyd in a blonde dye job, just doesn't come across well as the hero Livius. He's so much better as villains in films like The Bravados, Ben-Hur, and Shalako.

But Commodus may very well have been Christopher Plummer's finest performance on screen. The film is not the real story of Commodus's reign, but Plummer does capture the heart and soul of the emperor who ran things from 180 to 192.

Holding up the view of a free and equal world are a couple of classic performances by Alec Guinness as Marcus Aurelius and James Mason as the Greek slave Timonides who counsels Marcus in his changing world view.

And any film is worth watching with Sophia Loren's pulchritude on prominent display.

I'm no expert in ancient history, but this may have been the first time that someone like Marcus Aurelius took a global view of things other than what I can plunder out of my conquests. What's not told in this story is that Christianity is invisible here. Marcus didn't like them at all, thought they were way too exclusive in THEIR view of things.

Nevertheless The Fall of the Roman Empire and the issues it raises from the ancient world are still being thrashed out today. Hoperfully it will all be resolved in the future.


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