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
The Price Is Right (1956) gave the role of an extra in this movie away as a bonus prize. The winner was a man named Robert Reynolds, and he appears in the background of an arena scene. See more »
Although most soldiers in the ancient world wore their swords on the opposite hip from their sword arm, the Roman Legionnaires used a short sword called a gladius which they wore on their right hip. Depictions of this have led some viewers to believe that the entire Roman army was left handed. See more »
Father thinks too much.
There is much for a Roman to think of these days.
Why Livius, for a moment that honest warrior's face of yours took on the - philosopher's look. Let's not think, let's drink.
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The Paramount logo did not appear on American prints. See more »
The non-roadshow version was cut to 153 minutes from the original 172 minutes running time. See more »
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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