During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, U.S. marine, Maj. Matt Lewis, along with British consul, Sir Arthur Robertson, develop a plan to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force can arrive.
In the Sudan, in 1884 to 1885, Egyptian forces led by British General Charles "Chinese" Gordon (Charlton Heston) defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim Army led by a religious fanatic, Mohammed Ahmed el Mahdi (Sir Laurence Olivier).
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
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 »
Death is in the order of things. Didn't they teach you that in school?
I will not let you leave me.
Is there a choice? Soon, this trickle of blood, these few bones, this net woven of nerves and arteries, will be dust. No choice.
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The Paramount logo did not appear on American prints. See more »
The film was cut a number of times, from 187 minutes to 185 to 165 to 158. The very first scene to go was one between Commodus and Livius in the middle of their drinking session on arriving at the German fort. As they go upstairs to pick out two of the hostage German women, Commodus explains that he is on the horns of not a dilemma by a trilemma - if there are gods, they have decided what he will do so it doesn't matter whether he is good or bad; if there are no gods, then it simply doesn't matter if he leads a good or a bad life; and if he himself is a god, then he gets to decide what is good or bad. That is why, if you listen carefully, you can hear the gods laughing... The omission of this scene explains that incredibly abrupt cut from them going upstairs to Commodus trying to force a drink on the German girl. There are a number of cuts in the other versions, most notably the second scene with Marcus Aurelius and Lucilla; most of Timonides' big speech to the Senate about accepting the barbarians into the Empire; and the scene where Livius tries to appeal to the Senate after failing to sway Commodus in the temple only for them to turn against him and arrest him. In some prints, the first scene after the intermission, of Lucilla leaving Marcus Aurelius' meditations in the temple for safekeeping is also dropped. Sadly, the only version that was ever released uncut was the Super 8mm feature release back in the early 1990s, which was taken from the original 16mm neg that was struck before any of the cuts were made but which was prohibitively expensive. See more »
It's particularly interesting to compare this movie with Gladiator (2000), as both take the same historical event as a starting point. While the fight scenes are more exciting in Gladiator, and while Gladiator is probably the superior film overall, this film does have three distinct advantages.
First of all, the armies and crowds are better here - it's real people and not computer generated icons. Some of the marching scenes were a bit lengthy for my tastes, but the soldiers, the horses, the armor, the swords and spears, all of it, were very authentic and impressive. Second, as the armies look more realistic, so do the sets. We do not see the coliseum in this film, but we do see the palaces, pools, forts and throne rooms. Very exciting. Third, and perhaps most importantly, this film has superior acting. Christopher Plummer is probably the best thing here - his Commodus is at once more dastardly and more likeable than that of Gladiator; again, this means more realistic. James Mason is also in top form, here; for once, he does not play a slippery philanderer.
There is something flawed about this film that I can't quite put my finger on. It does not reach the heights of other 50s and 60s epics such as The Ten Commandments or Ben-Hur. Still, it is a dramatic and at times moving film. It does convey the gravity (some might say tragedy) of the Empire's fall and the pax romana that never was.
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