Discussion:
Fall of the Roman Empire(1964) vs. Gladiator(2000)
(too old to reply)
TT
2009-10-01 20:34:49 UTC
Permalink
(Re: Gladiator)
(about Gladiator)
Plot and dialogue, especially so-called "political maneuvering" was laughably
simplistic, you could just hear studio execs dumbing it down in the writers
meetings "no no, audience wouldn't understand anything more complex".
See 'Fall of the Roman Empire'. It has fairly shitty fight scenes, but plot,
characters, atmosphere are zillion times better.
I watched The Fall of the Roman Empire.

I can see where you're coming from, the story is about same events and
characters than in Gladiator and I assume what bothers you in Gladiator
is that it seems being a sort of remake of The Fall(tm).

Indeed, Gladiator copies half of it's material from The Fall, even the
historical inaccuracies:
Both have the old emperor, Marcus Aurelius, being murdered. Both have
the commander of the Northern Army being in love with Commodus' sister,
Lucilla...Not to forget historically inaccurate fight between the
protagonist and the emperor, Commodus, in the end. These parts are all
fiction that Gladiator clearly copied from The Fall. So actually both
movies were historically suspect Hollywood dramas...although admittedly
Gladiator even slightly more so.

But not only that, Gladiator also copied features and parts from
Ben-Hur(1959) and Spartacus(1960)...actually making the story a bit more
dramatic and arguably more interesting.
...While The Fall was borrowing for example chariot race in Ben-Hur and
features from Cleopatra(1963) which came out a year before.

I disagree with you about the plot, characters and atmosphere being
superior in The Fall. I felt that it was on moments too
talkative/melodramatic and dragging on some parts. (This was the 1970
re-release of 172 minutes, while the 1964 original release was 188
minutes long)

When it comes to casting, this may have been biggest weakness of The
Fall. Stephen Boyd was rather bland as the hero in this movie,
Livius...and Loren didn't impress me with her interpretation of Lucilla.
If I had the choice, I would have replaced them with Heston and say
Natalie Wood (instead of obvious choice of Lizzy Taylor).
Christopher Plummer was great as Commodus, as was Joaquin Phoenix
playing the respecting role in Gladiator.
I guess the hallmark performance for insane emperor comes from Peter
Ustinov's depiction of Nero in Quo Vadis(1951). I'd expect that Malcolm
McDowell as Caligula wasn't too bad either?

Of course Alec Guinness(dying Emperor, Marcus Aurelius) and James
Mason(Timonides) were professionally brilliant as always. A pity that
they didn't have more screen time.

I do agree with you, Yama, that the fight scenes in Gladiator were
superior, except apart the final fight in The Fall between Commodus and
Livius. This was just about only scene I actually remembered from the
last viewing(+poisoned knife and chariot race). Actually the ending did
make me choose the higher rating between six and seven for The Fall.

All said, I can not blame anyone preferring The Fall over Gladiator. The
non-CGI props for The Fall were breathtaking.
However, I don't see these two films competing with each other, more
like completing. They present two rather different type of movies in the
end. Other being brilliant in modern style action and entertainment,
while the other being more focused in traditional type of drama and
storytelling, being perhaps a bit more demanding for the viewer at times.

Gladiator 8, Fall of the Roman Empire 7
El Klauso
2009-10-02 20:55:44 UTC
Permalink
In reference to some of the brilliant work by Guiness and Mason,
perhaps my favorite non-essential scene of all time is in that
wonderful section of 'Fall,' where Emperor Marcus A. and his Greek
philosopher pal have a friendly competition naming the allies of Rome
parading before them. Great fun!
tomcervo
2009-10-02 23:37:18 UTC
Permalink
Apples and oranges. Great fun seeing Oliver Reed and David Hemmings in
full barnstorming mode despite the somewhat risible patchwork plot--
people with more free time than I can determine exactly what
proportions of Fall, Spartacus and I Claudius were mixed in to make
the stew. I don't think I'm the only one who prefers the frontier
palace in midwinter to the huge Roman forum recreation, and both to
the CGI lashup of Gladiator.
The lean 50 minute BBC "Colosseum", about the actual career of a
gladiator, makes the Scott/Crowe effort look like bloatware.
number_six
2009-10-03 21:56:29 UTC
Permalink
As the thread wound down, some very good observations were tacked on
(yes, it happens!), and I'll second the following:

-- Ustinov in Quo Vadis; haven't seen this one in ages, would like to
watch it again. Ustinov had many fine roles. Captain Vere in Billy
Budd is another that comes to mind.

-- The parade of the Roman allies in Fall of the Roman Empire -- yes,
that's a great scene.

-- I agree the beauty of the winter setting in Germany is a welcome
contrast to the normally sun-drenched splendor of Rome. Lends more
weight to the Emperor's philosophizing, also.
TT
2009-10-04 03:24:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by number_six
As the thread wound down, some very good observations were tacked on
-- Ustinov in Quo Vadis; haven't seen this one in ages, would like to
watch it again. Ustinov had many fine roles. Captain Vere in Billy
Budd is another that comes to mind.
-- The parade of the Roman allies in Fall of the Roman Empire -- yes,
that's a great scene.
-- I agree the beauty of the winter setting in Germany is a welcome
contrast to the normally sun-drenched splendor of Rome. Lends more
weight to the Emperor's philosophizing, also.
Hell, if you like winter scenes in unexpected places...watch "The Great
Silence".
You will not be disappointed, money back guarantee!
number_six
2009-10-04 15:47:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by TT
Hell, if you like winter scenes in unexpected places...watch "The Great
Silence".
You will not be disappointed, money back guarantee!
Thanks, I jotted down the title.
Mark
2009-10-04 00:07:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by TT
Gladiator 8, Fall of the Roman Empire 7
For me, it would be Fall of the Roman Empire, 7, and Gladiator 2. I
find Gladiator interminably boring and cliched down to the black
sidekick. Yes, right. Just like the one Robin Hood had in the Costner
remake.

I find Fall a little long and Plummer does chew the scenery (and Boyd
can't act at all) but the supporting performances (and the luminous
Loren) are all superb. Gladiator doesn't have a single good
performance in it (apart from the happy Mr. Reed). Crowe is way too
over earnest, Phoenix just bizarre.

The whole thing feels like it will never end. Best Picture? Boy, that
one was a real laugh (like Chicago, Slumdog, well, we could go on and
on).
Flasherly
2009-10-04 06:02:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by TT
I guess the hallmark performance for insane emperor comes from Peter
Ustinov's depiction of Nero in Quo Vadis(1951). I'd expect that Malcolm
McDowell as Caligula wasn't too bad either?
Apples and oranges, I'd expect. Author extraordinaire Gore Vidal
heading up and out (didn't let the door slam on his ass on the way
out, I gather) Tinto Brass's semi-weird, however focused obsession,
along with most of all a very pragmatically focused Hustler's Bob
Guccione. Best thing since Clockwork Orange for McDowell, for what
his sum worth is, I suppose. His sister, by the way, Drusilla -- I
read an interview from of Penthouse. Loose as a goose's paraphrasing
-- 'We, me and a significant another, M. PoundCake, (crossover actress
from the skingame) -- were doing a sort of bisexual thing -- together,
we sort of let our inhibitions go and *really* got into it.'
Accompanying transfers to the interview of photoshots from the movie
never actually made it, as I saw it, as I'm given to understand is the
unexpurgated version. Lift a healthy dose of creme off the skingloss
pages, herd them up and over to Italy -- for good ol' God's anarchical
sake, where they even elected a pornstar to Mayor, shoot electives in
the kneecaps when they get out of line, or for the Pope to call out an
independent state of emergency, all around running destitute whores
across the national borders -- and cut them just about enough slack to
send Vidal running for the hills. And that's Caligula in a nutshell.
Caligula's excesses on the Imperial Boat, he drydocks to elaborate
upon by conducting senatorial wives' orgies, employs a peculiar
actress with an unusual bent;... set surrounded, as it were, she's
anchorwoman to the film's one formal dinner orgy, being repeatedly
panned, among multifarious entanglements aside, until in flagrante
delicto she consummates the "money-shot" epitomising modern
romanticism. Apart all else, Caligula doesn't as much diverge into
pornographic excursions, as attempt exploration of the dimension
expressive of credibility carnality lends to mythic proportions, set
nearby Jesus Christ, of heinousness accessible today, much as in a
vein Adolph Hitler exemplifies to mass persuasions. An interesting
view to film buffs coming out of censorship, I should say, quite
excusable in any sense to exhaustively spoil sundry excesses granted
full expressionism, although the moral of the story may be sufficient
reason enough one may wish to bathe, afterwards, and wash the filth of
the film away. A 7, or respectively 3 out of a 10, however one sees
fit.

By the way -- there's another, a British 11-series production focusing
focusing on Caligula's su-su-stuttering fool-of-a-sibling, ol' what's
his name, cubfooted Claudius. The pace is somewhat stodgily British,
although for the most eminently watchable once settled in.
TT
2009-10-04 06:44:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Flasherly
Post by TT
I guess the hallmark performance for insane emperor comes from Peter
Ustinov's depiction of Nero in Quo Vadis(1951). I'd expect that Malcolm
McDowell as Caligula wasn't too bad either?
Apples and oranges, I'd expect. Author extraordinaire Gore Vidal
heading up and out (didn't let the door slam on his ass on the way
out, I gather) Tinto Brass's semi-weird, however focused obsession,
along with most of all a very pragmatically focused Hustler's Bob
Guccione. Best thing since Clockwork Orange for McDowell, for what
his sum worth is, I suppose. His sister, by the way, Drusilla -- I
read an interview from of Penthouse. Loose as a goose's paraphrasing
-- 'We, me and a significant another, M. PoundCake, (crossover actress
from the skingame) -- were doing a sort of bisexual thing -- together,
we sort of let our inhibitions go and *really* got into it.'
Accompanying transfers to the interview of photoshots from the movie
never actually made it, as I saw it, as I'm given to understand is the
unexpurgated version. Lift a healthy dose of creme off the skingloss
pages, herd them up and over to Italy -- for good ol' God's anarchical
sake, where they even elected a pornstar to Mayor, shoot electives in
the kneecaps when they get out of line, or for the Pope to call out an
independent state of emergency, all around running destitute whores
across the national borders -- and cut them just about enough slack to
send Vidal running for the hills. And that's Caligula in a nutshell.
Caligula's excesses on the Imperial Boat, he drydocks to elaborate
upon by conducting senatorial wives' orgies, employs a peculiar
actress with an unusual bent;... set surrounded, as it were, she's
anchorwoman to the film's one formal dinner orgy, being repeatedly
panned, among multifarious entanglements aside, until in flagrante
delicto she consummates the "money-shot" epitomising modern
romanticism. Apart all else, Caligula doesn't as much diverge into
pornographic excursions, as attempt exploration of the dimension
expressive of credibility carnality lends to mythic proportions, set
nearby Jesus Christ, of heinousness accessible today, much as in a
vein Adolph Hitler exemplifies to mass persuasions. An interesting
view to film buffs coming out of censorship, I should say, quite
excusable in any sense to exhaustively spoil sundry excesses granted
full expressionism, although the moral of the story may be sufficient
reason enough one may wish to bathe, afterwards, and wash the filth of
the film away. A 7, or respectively 3 out of a 10, however one sees
fit.
Couple days ago, had my toughest rating yet...Death Wish III...a 1 or 10?!

Anyways thanks for your reply, interesting read as always. Guess I have
to see the film after all...
Eva Wolves
2021-09-06 04:10:56 UTC
Permalink
While I agree Stephen Boyd as not a good choice looking back in hindsight the man is actually a very capable actor. There's a reason why his performance as Massala n Ben-Hurt is still seen as some of the greatest villainry ever n cinema. The problem with Boyd IMO is that he lacked experience in a lead role esp in a big epic like this. He may not be the best actor as how he as unable to make a comeback in Hollywood but later roles in European cinema still showed he had it as an actor.

As for the casting of the female lead, while Natalie Wood was a great acress I do not think she'd be able to handle Fall of the Roman Empire esp with its script and other flaws. She lacked experience in historical epics and was too used to other genres.


The casting of Sophia Loren was a completely obvious one even looking back in hindsight for how weak it was compared to the film. SOphia Loren as the first non-English actress to win the Best Actress in the Oscar and more importantly than anything else, she had worked for the producer of the movie Samuel Bronston for years in a couple of box office hits. So even with all the mistakes made with the film, I wouldn't be surprised if Samuel still chose Sophia Loren. Esp since she isn't even weak in terms of her acting in the movie since her resume goe far beyond Boyd both before the film and afterwards and does brilliance n later stuff like Man of La MAncha wth Peter O'Toole......

The bigger issue is the very weak acting direction. Its not the worst but its not strong enough. By itself it isn't bad but hen combined with the script and other flaws of the movie combined with troubled somewhat rushed production and esp with how despite being legitimately skilled actors both Boyd and Loren are not high enough caliber esp n proportion to the movie's massive production values and epic scale and the factor they are the leads to make up for weak direction on their own, it devastates the film's quality. Add to the relatively weak (compared to other romance movies like Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finley in Two For the Road) onscreen portrayal of Livius and Lucilla Romane hich makes up a core premise behind the movie it was no surprised the movie underperformed.

If I were to replace the lead, Peter O'Toole is the BEST MALE lead. NO need to change Sophia Loren........ Because O'Toole basically acted as the same archetype that Livius as in the Miniseries Masada where he plays Filvius Silva but he also played the disillusioned idealist to legendary levels in his breakout role as Lawrence of Arabia (considered to this day as one of the greatest movie performances ever despite O'Toole not ultimately winning in the Oscar nominations). Add in his role as King Henry in The Lion of the Winter (also nominated for best actor and it was an upset he lost in the Academy Awards) where family issues and political struggle is the core o the story (even if he played the role of a father and not brother) and the role of Livius is perfect for O'Toole even with the flawed script and everything else......

And O'Toole is why there s no need to replace Sophia Loren-another widely praised performance is his role as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha outside of singing bits where Sophia is his lead lady. Despite the story not being a direct romance Sophia and Peter has incredble chemistry and breathtaking performances. O'Toole in the movie doesn't spend his time wooing Loren and Loren asn' even interested ina romance. But the chemistry of sexual tensions is there and you begin to see hot brain wires as they ineract together. The scrip has Sophia fall for O'Toole's role in the end but taht isn't the focus of the story unlike Fall of the Roman Empire--yet the chemistry soo perfect you feel hot sizzzles between them by their final scenes together.

So with a story focused on romance and esp epic scale, O'Toole would not only make up BOyd's underwhelmng perfoormances but the romance between Livius and Lucilla will truly flourish if Loren is casted wth a performer as strong as he is. Esp since irl O'Tool has a power to charm legendarily gorgeous women including those who don't end up romantically interested with him or even see him as their physical type such as Audrey Hepburn. Sophia crtaily thought he had charm in La Mancha and e are not even counting the fact irl he as a womanizer..............

I can go on and on but I'll stop because I really lack aith people will respond to this post esp since this is a 10 year old discussion. Hopefully someone replies and I can send more 2 cents!
gggg gggg
2021-09-06 04:57:02 UTC
Permalink
While I agree Stephen Boyd as not a good choice looking back in hindsight the man is actually a very capable actor. There's a reason why his performance as Massala n Ben-Hurt is still seen as some of the greatest villainry ever n cinema. The problem with Boyd IMO is that he lacked experience in a lead role esp in a big epic like this. He may not be the best actor as how he as unable to make a comeback in Hollywood but later roles in European cinema still showed he had it as an actor.
As for the casting of the female lead, while Natalie Wood was a great acress I do not think she'd be able to handle Fall of the Roman Empire esp with its script and other flaws. She lacked experience in historical epics and was too used to other genres.
The casting of Sophia Loren was a completely obvious one even looking back in hindsight for how weak it was compared to the film. SOphia Loren as the first non-English actress to win the Best Actress in the Oscar and more importantly than anything else, she had worked for the producer of the movie Samuel Bronston for years in a couple of box office hits. So even with all the mistakes made with the film, I wouldn't be surprised if Samuel still chose Sophia Loren. Esp since she isn't even weak in terms of her acting in the movie since her resume goe far beyond Boyd both before the film and afterwards and does brilliance n later stuff like Man of La MAncha wth Peter O'Toole......
The bigger issue is the very weak acting direction. Its not the worst but its not strong enough. By itself it isn't bad but hen combined with the script and other flaws of the movie combined with troubled somewhat rushed production and esp with how despite being legitimately skilled actors both Boyd and Loren are not high enough caliber esp n proportion to the movie's massive production values and epic scale and the factor they are the leads to make up for weak direction on their own, it devastates the film's quality. Add to the relatively weak (compared to other romance movies like Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finley in Two For the Road) onscreen portrayal of Livius and Lucilla Romane hich makes up a core premise behind the movie it was no surprised the movie underperformed.
If I were to replace the lead, Peter O'Toole is the BEST MALE lead. NO need to change Sophia Loren........ Because O'Toole basically acted as the same archetype that Livius as in the Miniseries Masada where he plays Filvius Silva but he also played the disillusioned idealist to legendary levels in his breakout role as Lawrence of Arabia (considered to this day as one of the greatest movie performances ever despite O'Toole not ultimately winning in the Oscar nominations). Add in his role as King Henry in The Lion of the Winter (also nominated for best actor and it was an upset he lost in the Academy Awards) where family issues and political struggle is the core o the story (even if he played the role of a father and not brother) and the role of Livius is perfect for O'Toole even with the flawed script and everything else......
And O'Toole is why there s no need to replace Sophia Loren-another widely praised performance is his role as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha outside of singing bits where Sophia is his lead lady. Despite the story not being a direct romance Sophia and Peter has incredble chemistry and breathtaking performances. O'Toole in the movie doesn't spend his time wooing Loren and Loren asn' even interested ina romance. But the chemistry of sexual tensions is there and you begin to see hot brain wires as they ineract together. The scrip has Sophia fall for O'Toole's role in the end but taht isn't the focus of the story unlike Fall of the Roman Empire--yet the chemistry soo perfect you feel hot sizzzles between them by their final scenes together.
So with a story focused on romance and esp epic scale, O'Toole would not only make up BOyd's underwhelmng perfoormances but the romance between Livius and Lucilla will truly flourish if Loren is casted wth a performer as strong as he is. Esp since irl O'Tool has a power to charm legendarily gorgeous women including those who don't end up romantically interested with him or even see him as their physical type such as Audrey Hepburn. Sophia crtaily thought he had charm in La Mancha and e are not even counting the fact irl he as a womanizer..............
I can go on and on but I'll stop because I really lack aith people will respond to this post esp since this is a 10 year old discussion. Hopefully someone replies and I can send more 2 cents!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fall_of_the_Roman_Empire_(film)#Reception
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