Years after the Second Punic War, Scipio Africanus finds himself generally unliked, despite his defeat of Hannibal Barca. He and his brother, Scipio Asiaticus, are accused by Marcus Porcius...
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Years after the Second Punic War, Scipio Africanus finds himself generally unliked, despite his defeat of Hannibal Barca. He and his brother, Scipio Asiaticus, are accused by Marcus Porcius Cato of the theft of 500 talents intended for Rome.Written by
This semi-historical talkathon about the Ancient Roman warrior Scipio Africanus is an attempt at an intimate 'anti-epic' in the style of Pasolini's Medea or Oedipus Rex. If nothing else, it reminds us just how inspired those other films are. Shooting in the deserts of Morocco or Eastern Turkey, Pasolini makes us feel his camera has somehow time-travelled back to Antiquity - and the story he tells has the intensity of Greek tragedy or primal myth.
In the far-less-gifted hands of writer-director Luigi Magni, we get a bunch of big-name actors standing round in cut-price togas. All of them seem to wonder just what they are doing there, and whether or not they can be bothered to stay. Most ludicrous are the authentic Roman ruins that stand in for sets. Did nobody point out that these were NOT ruins at the time the story takes place, but new and glittering triumphs of modern architecture?
A pity, because the cast is highly skilled. A bald Marcello Mastroianni tries hard as Scipio, Silvana Mangano looks predictably stunning as his wife and Vittorio Gassman is brilliantly slimy as his arch-enemy - the wily, cat-loving statesman Cato. The struggle between Scipio and Cato (i.e. between military force and civilian government) is as relevant today as it was when it happened. You can hear the same debate any night on the evening news...
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