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Fictional, and, what is much worse, highly propagandistic film about the reasons of why Rome fell. It's ironical that the very reasons that the film claims would have saved Rome, such as universal citizenship, 'equality' (a modern creation), were in fact among the main causes of her fall, alongside, of course, the prevalent degradation and corruption. It's a pity that almost every movie and story dealing with Rome is used to promote the modern agenda; but, having said that, I must say that the film is worth seeing for the amazing and mind-blowing recreation of the grandeur and splendour of Rome with its beautiful decorations, its battle scenes, and some good performances, especially that of Commodus. Cinematography is outstanding, smooth and assured; the first hour of the film is magnificent with its snowy forests of Germania.
If pomp and pageantry (a whole lot of people standing around, dressed up, watching somebody else dressed up, walk or ride by) ("Ooooh! So-and-so just walked or rode by me! So impressed!") is your thing, then this is your ticket. The producer went broke paying for this 2-hour long ostentatious display of a "cast of thousands!". There are moments of action, such as the chariot fight, but those come few and far between. Also, for your entertainment pleasure, people say the word "Rome" a lot. You won't remember much of any of it. Or...maybe you will.
a bit fast and loose with the facts, but quite a story and spectacle
jUST SAW IT FOR THE FIRST TIME. great EPIC MOVIE,WITH GREAT ACTING FROM SOME CLASSIC GREAT STARS. tHE SETS ARE MAGNIFICENT. SCENERY IS LOVELY. IT'S THE WAY I IMAGINED ROME WOULD HAVE BEEN IN ITS PRIME.
In the winter of 180 A.D., the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness) fights to keep Germanic barbarians from invading his northern territories on the Danube frontier (a war which in fact had been ongoing for over a decade, with no end in sight as of 180). His deputies are the Greek ex-slave Timonides (James Mason), a closet Christian, and the stern and honest general Gaius Livius (Stephen Boyd). Livius has close connections with the imperial family, being the lover of Aurelius' philosopher daughter Lucilla (Sophia Loren) and a friend of her brother Commodus (Christopher Plummer). Nevertheless, he is amazed to hear that Aurelius wants to make him his heir. Despite his military obligations the emperor has egalitarian ideals, dreaming of a day when Rome grants equal rights to men of all nations. He knows that he will not live to achieve this end, and trusts Livius to do so more than his charismatic but brutal son. The discovery that his father has effectively disinherited him hurts Commodus immensely, and damages the almost brotherly relationship he had enjoyed with Livius. Aurelius summons all the governors of the Roman empire to his headquarters, intending to announce Livius' future accession. Before he can do so he is poisoned by Commodus' cronies, who hope to secure their own political future by putting their friend on the throne. Sure enough, Livius feels that a non-aristocrat such as himself would never be accepted as emperor without Aurelius' explicit backing; he lets his old friend take the position instead. Commodus, who was not part of the murder plot, is left feeling helplessly angry at his deceased father. He dedicates himself to undoing all Aurelius' policies; this involves blatant favoritism towards Rome and Italy, which are enriched by ferocious taxation of the provinces that were to be their equals. Meanwhile, Livius' army scores an important victory on the frontier, capturing the German chieftain Ballomar and his aides. Timonides wins the Germans' trust by successfully undergoing an ordeal, having his hand thrust in a fire; with his help, Livius decides to put Aurelius' policy into effect despite disapproval from Commodus. Lucilla helps convince Livius to defy the emperor, since she loved her father as much as Commodus hates him. A speech by Timonides persuades the Roman Senate to let the German captives become peaceful farmers on Italian land, thereby encouraging their fellow barbarians to cooperate with Rome instead of fighting it. Commodus is furious, and sends Livius back to his frontier post in what is effectively a sentence of banishment. Lucilla is forced to go to Armenia, with whose king she shares a loveless political marriage. Commodus is compelled to recall Livius in order to put down a rebellion by Rome's eastern provinces. When he arrives at the site of the unrest, Livius is horrified to find that Lucilla is behind it. She tries to persuade him to join her in making a splinter state, free of her brother's influence, but he feels that Roman civilization will collapse if it is broken into pieces. The issue is settled in an unexpected manner when Lucilla's husband calls in Rome's archenemy the Persians to help the rebelling forces fight Livius. The sight of the dreaded Persian cavalry so panics the defecting Romans that they go back over to Livius, swelling his army and allowing him to score an immense victory. The king of Armenia is killed, and Commodus sends word that Livius is to be made joint ruler of Rome. The condition for this reward, however, is that Livius is to wreak hideous punishments on the populations of the disloyal provinces...
Critical response has been positive decades after the film's initial release, and it is now considered a classic, with many critics praising the film for its script, direction, and acting. Mike Cummings from AllMovie gave the film a positive review, praising the film for its performances, and musical score. Leonard Maltin awarded the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, stating, "Intelligent scripting, good direction, and fine acting place this far above the usual empty-headed spectacle". Bosley Crowther from New York Times called the film an "above-average historical drama". Steven H. Scheuer disliked the film at first and asked his Movies on TV readers to "excuse the divine Sophia Loren for looking so uncomfortable," but later reconsidered his opinion and rated it 3 out of 4 stars. The film was a financial failure at the box-office. Despite this, it is considered unusually intelligent and thoughtful for a film of the contemporary sword and sandal genre and also enjoys a 100% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It features the largest outdoor film set in the history of film, a 92,000 m2 replica of the Roman Forum.
"The Fall Of The Roman Empire" is an epic costume drama with a great ensemble, powerful dialogue, strong acting, intriguing historic story, yet it suffers from a static, a bit overblown production that only becomes slightly exciting in the end. Then it´s too late. The problem is that that script and direction doesn´t make the film an exciting viewing despite story, massive sets and fantastic environments. The films sets the bar on such a boring level from scene one and never manages to save it during those 3 hours of running time. I was hoping for a film that would blow me away, but like "El Cid", this is one of those epic films that just doesn´t get it together.
Trivia: - Stephen Boyd blamed the massive commercial failure of The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) for ruining his movie career.
- Budgeted at about $20 million, this was Paramount's biggest flop of 1964. Its failure cost producer Samuel Bronston his Spanish production facility.
The beginning is so boring. There is zero meaningful progression in the story the first twenty minutes and impressive visuals do not make up for it no wonder the film saw a 3/4 loss on investment.
A bit of as cliche as of this date (2017)... Overly theatrical acting. A saga of badly behaved people. Too long.
an awesome epic movie with sword and sandals where everything was made with real sets and real extras and not in cgi like today too bad that movie was a flop at the time of release
good movie overall done on a grand scale, but, lacked excitement at times
Unquestionably a huge production - maybe one of the biggest with 25,000 sword & sandal costume wearers and 1,500 horses. At its heart is a simple story that probably should have been played larger. Of interest: Loren's estimable figure is not exploited even once in romantic scenes, nor any other. Worth seeing for its Ultra-Panavision 180-minutes. As the extra materials documentary notes, the movie's release was not ideal in the wake of the JFK assassination when the American Empire was perceived after the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis to be teetering, too. The score is impressive if eclectic. In all, fascinating, especially for what in the end is a huge downer.