Cethegus, leader of the Roman nobility, travels to Bizantium and its leader Justinian, in an attempt to raise an army to march on the Goths under Narses. Cethegus would like to set the two ...
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Cethegus starts the war between the Ostrogoths and their queen, Amalasuntha, and the Byzantine Empire, but when the Byzantine army invades Italy to reconquer Rome, romance prevails and threatens to ruin the plans for Cethegus.
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Cethegus, leader of the Roman nobility, travels to Bizantium and its leader Justinian, in an attempt to raise an army to march on the Goths under Narses. Cethegus would like to set the two sides to war against each other, that his own forces might take control at the outcome.Written by
In view of its imposing credentials, I had been looking forward to watching this one for some time; though I only managed to catch the condensed version of the two-part epic - shown on Italian TV as part of an Orson Welles marathon on Easter Sunday - it's still a worthwhile and enjoyable film of its type: choppily edited and disjointed in narrative, to be sure, but hardly incoherent. Incidentally, Welles participated in two other butchered spectacles around this time - THE BATTLE OF NERETVA (1969) and WATERLOO (1970); thanks to his larger-than-life persona, the heavy-set thespian was a regular feature of historical epics during the genre's heyday.
THE LAST ROMAN proved to be celebrated director Siodmak's final film: perhaps not the ideal swan-song for him as, apart from Honor Blackman's nasty bath-tub murder, there's little evidence of (or opportunity for) his trademark stylistics. In fact, I'd say that the film bears more the imprint of its producer Arthur Brauner - an expert in exotic exploitation (witness the very discreet, but entirely gratuitous, use of nudity) who had also been the force behind Fritz Lang's last films and would soon collaborate on a number of Jess Franco pictures. Nevertheless, this particular effort abounds in battle sequences that are moderately well-staged - and the plot is so replete with double-crosses, murders and switched allegiances that the viewer's full attention is required throughout; another typical asset of such films is the score and Riz Ortolani provides a serviceable one here.
Apart from the aforementioned Orson Welles and Honor Blackman, the cast is an eccentric mix of international and "Euro-Cult" stars - Laurence Harvey, Sylva Koscina, Michael Dunn, Harriet Andersson, Robert Hoffmann, Ingrid Boulting, Ewa Stroemberg, Lang Jeffries and Friedrich Ledebur; though mostly working below-par, none are especially demeaned by their role in the film (excepting Harvey's embarrassing hairstyle).
In the end, I'd love to check out the full-length version of STRUGGLE FOR ROME (as the original title of this German/Italian/Romanian co-production translates to) someday - but the possibility seems very remote at this stage...
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