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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.

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(screenplay), (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:
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Cleander
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Julianus
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Polybius
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Niger
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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:

Language:

Release Date:

26 March 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La caída del imperio romano  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,750,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1970 re-release)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints)| (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's reconstruction of the Roman Forum at Las Matas near Madrid, at 400 x 230 meters (1312 x 754 feet) holds the record for the largest outdoor film set. 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 »

Connections

Version of Gladiator (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
We were right Livius. There is no limit with what can be done with a human spirit, for good or evil.
4 June 2011 | by See all my reviews

The Fall of the Roman Empire is directed by Anthony Mann and co-written by Ben Barzman, Basilio Franchina and Philip Yordan. It stars Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, James Mason, Christopher Plummer, Mel Ferrer, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, John Ireland & Finlay Currie. Music is scored by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography is by Robert Krasker. Filmed out of Samuel Bronston's productions in Spain, it was shot in the 70mm Ultra Panavision format.

Plot is a fictionalisation of events involving the Roman Empire AD 180 to 192, and focuses on the last days of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to the death of his son and successor Commodus.

It was a financial disaster for Samuel Bronston, something that might lend one to think the film to being rather poor. That isn't the case at all, time has been kind to Mann's epic, showing it to be one of the better, more intelligent, sword and sandal epics to have surfaced in cinema history. Massive in scope and production values, it harks back to a time when epic actually meant just that. A huge cast list is supplemented by thousands of extras, all cloaked by real scenery and expertly crafted sets, with not a CGI sequence in sight. Scripting is literate, where three separate writers combine to tell a tale of political intrigue, violence, romance, glory and greed, the ultimate spun narrative of a system collapsing from within. While the action is superbly marshalled by Mann as it flits in and out of the dialogue driven story. Be it the snow laden campaign against the Germanic Barbarians, or an exciting chariot duel, Mann shows himself to be adroit in the art of scene construction.

It's not all perfect, the length at over three hours asks much of the casual observer; the production for sure is grand, but some of the longer character exchanges could easily have been trimmed. After Kirk Douglas and Charlton Heston turned down the role of Livius, Stephen Boyd filed in for lantern jawed stoicism, he looks the part but with such a razor sharp script calling for dramatic worth from one of its main characters, Boyd barely convinces in a film that convinces everywhere else. Loren, a vision of loveliness, is guilty of over pouting, but both her and Boyd's failings are masked over by the performances of the others around them, and to be fair their romantic union has the requisite warmth about it. Guinness (classy), Mason (likewise) and a terrific Plummer (grand egomaniacal villainy-himself stepping in when Richard Harris bailed) dominate proceedings, while Tiomkin's Academy Award nominated score is stirring and itself epic in production.

An essential film for the historical epic fan, The Fall of the Roman Empire is a lesson in adult sword and sandalry. 8.5/10


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