6.7/10
8,149
109 user 34 critic

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 26 March 1964 (USA)
Trailer
4:22 | Trailer
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 »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Edit

Storyline

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 Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The glory and grandeur that was Rome 1780 years ago are recreated as never before. All of that Rome - its eloquent stores, its swarming multitudes, its exotic scenes, the very noise of the traffic in the streets - parades before you. Assailed on all sides by barbarian hordes, and Oriental armies, Rome, like an overripe fruit, was ready to fall. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Kirk Douglas turned the movie down, even though he wanted to work with Sophia Loren. 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

Marcus Aurelius: We've had to fight long wars. Your burdens have been great. But, we come now - to the end of the road. Here, within our reach, golden centuries of peace. A true Pax Romana! Wherever you live, whatever the color of your skin, when peace is achieved, it will bring to all, *all*, the supreme right of Roman citizenship.
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 The Movies: The Films Of Anthony Mann (1967) See more »

User Reviews

Far too literate a film for lovers of epic action
2 November 2002 | by uds3See all my reviews

The inspiration and source material for GLADIATOR in case you hadn't noticed. This particular historical romp coming very late in the epic cycle in the 60's was a masterpiece of script, direction and set construction. You may have thought the Colosseum in GLADIATOR was impressive - digitised though it was, but compare it to the jaw-dropping scenes in Commodus' Rome - and they BUILT those! Ridley Scott used LESS than 50 people in his Colosseum scenes - every ONE of the thousands of Roman citizens you see, are there! To film this today with the same realism would cost $600-800,000 perhaps one billion plus!

Other scenes, such as the funeral of Aurelius are simply spinal-tap if you have the slightest understanding of what you are seeing. Most people didn't - leaving the theater (even in the 60's) feeling they'd just sat through a history seminar rather than an entertaining movie. I suppose it comes down to WHAT exactly "entertains" you? Master director Martin Scorcese (an extremely literate man himself) singled this movie out as one to study for those interested in the history of American Film...I wonder why?

Curiously the role of Marcus Aurelius was the highlight (acting wise) of both THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE and GLADIATOR. Sir Alec Guinness gave us a totally masterful and benevolent emperor here in just the same way that the late Richard Harris dominated GLADIATOR during his on-screen moments. The film was one to LISTEN to, to reflect on...not too munch popcorn and watch the big men fly! James Mason as Timonides, gave one of his most enduring and touching roles....he was actually injured during that scene with the lance and was unable to film for a few days.

Comments that Boyd was "wooden" and Plummer "over the top," irritate me also. Livius was a noble man of integrity - that's how Boyd portrayed him, these weren't times for off-the-cuff humor. Similarly, evidence exists that Commodus himself was not the "thinking man's choice" of emperor - cruel, vengeful and way left-field of normal! Plummer brought all this out rather well I thought. It doesn't matter a whole lot to me OR Anthony Mann I suppose, what YOU thought about it! Sophia Loren? Not your average "legally blonde" Romanic bimbo either. The epitome of poise and elegance...way too "wooden" for the new millennium!

I believe the FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE is right up there with BEN HUR and Stanley Kubrick's SPARTACUS. Most any intelligent and perceptive person would agree! I would happily have watched it for 280 minutes!


57 of 82 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 109 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fall of the Roman Empire See more »

Filming Locations:

Comunidad Valenciana, Spain See more »

Edit

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 »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed