The Fall of the Roman Empire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Fall of the Roman Empire Reviews

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March 31, 2010
A staggeringly huge film and one of the last great epics of Hollywood's Golden Age. The most expensive film ever made at the time of it's release (about $28 million in 1964 dollars; well over $200 million now when adjusted for inflation), the entire production is beautifully detailed and is without a doubt one of the best-looking films of all time. Even better, the film benefits from a script that is more thoughtful and intelligent than just about any other film of its day.
The plot covers the same historical ground as "Gladiator," beginning in Germany as the dying Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness) reveals that he plans to make his heir not his son Commodus (Christopher Plummer), but instead the loyal general Gaius Livius (Stephen Boyd) who is in love with Aurelius' daughter, Lucilla (Sophia Loren). Commodus and Livius, once close friends, now become bitter rivals as the story unfolds. Boyd, excellent as the villain in "Ben-Hur," gives it his all as Livius but is no match for the genius acting skills of Guinness and Plummer. Guinness is excellent as the wise Aurelius, but the film belongs to Plummer, who gives possibly the best performance of his career as the delightfully unhinged and sadistic Commodus. Also strong is James Mason as Aurelius' Greek philosopher/advisor. Sophia Loren is about as easy on the eyes as they come, and her acting is certainly better than Boyd's.
But the real strength of the film lies in its smart script. It speculates on the various causes of Rome's fall, with heavy emphasis on the corrupt leaders and internal strife. It also offers insight into man's desire to be free and what a government's role should be in ensuring that freedom. In the end it's a very downbeat and depressing film, closing with a sense of pessimism very uncommon in films of the period. "Fall" is very much a film of its time but it still holds weight today, and stands as one of, if not the, greatest epics in all cinema.
March 26, 2010
A classic Roman film, with Sir Alec Guinness as the great Marcus Aurelius himself! Owned on DVD.
March 23, 2010
Dramatic, compelling and historically accurate. Well worth a look.
½ March 15, 2010
From back in the day when epic meant 10,000 extras, gargantuan sets and 122-piece other words, CGI is for wimps.
½ November 17, 2009
Superior performances and story-telling across the board. Gorgeous to look at it, tight direction from Mann who brings out the drama. The story of an Empire, and a well-argued question, the idea of creating peace through Empire. One of the best epics ever made.
½ May 26, 2009
An excellent movie of good olden days
Super Reviewer
April 27, 2009
Beautiful classic and Loren is and always will be a stunner.
½ April 18, 2009
A slow, torturous, self-destructive trip towards collective madness, when gold replaces human relationships, thought, and dignity. A film portraying the decline of ALL superpowers, starting from the end of logic, the end of friendship, the end of brotherhood, and ending with a fire on the stake. The End of Capitalism... When ideology is bought there is no real Rome. Real settings, thousands extras, a spectacle of decay, a true masterpiece.
½ April 16, 2009
Quite good, if a little long on talk, Hollywood version of the end of the mighty Roman Empire in the 5th Century AD.
March 9, 2009
This film is far superior to Gladiator. The music by Dimitri Tiomkin is haunting and performances are stellar. Compare Christopher Plummer's portrayal as Commodus to the Joaqin Phoenix's version of the same emperor in Gladiator. Both are good actors but Plummer is far more dramatic and convincing as Commodus. He's disarmingly charming and wicked as the day is long!
February 22, 2009
Infinitely superior to the more modern equivalent - gladiator - in pretty much every way.
February 22, 2009
wow umn just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is a good movie 2 watch its got a great cast of actors/actressess thorughout this movie..i think that andrew keir, stephen boyd, omar shariff play good parts throughout this movie..i think that the director of this Action & Adventure, Drama, Classics
movie had done a good job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie..its a good Action & Adventure, Drama, Classics movie 2 watch n its got some good scenery throughout this movie..i think that the fight scenes/sword fights were pretty kewl throughout this movie..its a good movie 2 watch
½ February 9, 2009
This is the movie "Gladiator" was based on - it is far superior to the original with an interesting casting option of Stephen Boyd as Maximus. Boyd often played the heavy in many biblical epics made at the time of this movie, so it was a surprise for him to play the leading man against Sophia "eternal hottie" Loren.
½ January 27, 2009
This is a movie with an epic scope and amazing (for the time) cinematography. While the story covers the same ground as Gladiator (which appears to have directly copied it in several areas) it is rather more convoluted and just as historically inaccurate. Why Hollywood doesn't find it interesting enough to show on film Commodus being poisoned by his mistress and assassinated in his bath tub by Narcissus, his personal trainer, I have no idea. As they say, the truth is often stranger (and more interesting) then fiction.
January 27, 2009
An uncommonly cerebral version of a sword-and-sandal epic. Not quite as good as it's progeny Gladiator but well-made and very entertaining, nevertheless. Alec Guiness was a natural choice for Marcus Aurelius and Plummer really established himself in Hollywood in a superb performance as Commodus. A bit long considering it's emphasis on dialogue over action but I would rather watch 4 hours of this than 2 hours of most contemporary historical epics.
January 20, 2009
Standard epic with a great cast. Not sure what else to say. It wasn't really memorable but it wasn't bad in any way, either. If you're into Rome and you really dig epics, check it out. If not, skip it, you'll not likely come across anyone who has seen it that isn't past 60 anyway.
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2009
Overlong, plodding spectacle. Good and great actors alike trapped in this ponderous bore.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2009
[font=Century Gothic]Throughout history, there have been focal points where events easily could have gone different ways. One such is in 180 A.D., depicted in the lavish spectacle "The Fall of the Roman Empire" that starts with blind soothsayer Cleander(Mel Ferrer) not being able to find the heart of a chicken which is not a good sign. Dying Emperor Marcus Aurelius(Alec Guinness) is putting his affairs in order and wants peace after seventeen years of war and a talk with Ballomar(John Ireland), the enemy commander. He also names General Livius(Stephen Boyd) his heir over his own unstable son Commodus(Christopher Plummer).[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]The other divergence I want to bring up is the different possible approaches to the same material. "The Fall of the Roman Empire" and "Gladiator" are both inspired by the same events but that is where the similarities end. Whereas "Gladiator" exploits violence and revenge for their own sake, "The Fall of the Roman Empire" is a literate tragedy about peace and what it takes to govern an empire. It is helped by giving the various characters time enough to articulate their own positions. And James Mason is espeiclally superb at this and Finlay Currie has a great speech of his own. But don't worry. There are some epic battle scenes and a thrilling chariot ride through the forest, all of which are better appreciated when there are less special effects used.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]In fact, "The Fall of the Roman Empire" marks the end of an era in a different way. This was one of the last grand epics of the Hollywood studio system.(Why so many of them had to feature Alec Guinness and Omar Sharif is beyond me.) After this, the movies would get smaller for a while. It was probably for the best.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Note: Christopher Plummer, James Mason and Anthony Quayle were also in "Murder by Decree."[/font]
November 18, 2008
amazing cast good stuff
October 15, 2008
This was a good movie, I loved Christopher Plummer. He did a great job being evil.
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