Friday, November 17, 2006

Film & Television: A Day Late and a Dollar Short, part 3

I’ll mention two television series in this post. (One of these days I’ll actually add a film.) Both use a little dramatic license to cover events during the Roman Empire. The older of the two spans more rulers and much more time while the more recent series charts the rise of Caesar and the beginning of the empire.

“I, Claudius”
Claudius: “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.”

Senator: “There are those who say you cannot hear properly, you cannot speak properly, and that you've got no experience of government.”
Claudius: “And that I am besides half-witted. Senators, it is true that I am hard of hearing, but you will find it is not for want of listening. As for speaking, again, it's true I have an impediment. But isn't what a man says more important than how long he takes to say it? It's true again I have little experience of government. But then, have you more? I at least have lived with the imperial family who has ruled this empire ever since you so spinelessly handed it over to us. I've observed it working more closely than any of you. Is your experience better than that? As for being half-witted, well, what can I say - except that I have survived to middle age with half my wits, while thousands have died with all of theirs intact. Evidently, quality of wits is more important than quantity. Senators, I shall do nothing unconstitutional; I shall appear at the next session of the senate where you may confirm me in my position or not as you wish. But if it pleases you not to, explain your reasons to them [points at the Praetorians]… not to me.”

Herod: “Trust no one, my friend, no one. Not your most grateful freedman. Not your most intimate friend. Not your dearest child. Not the wife of your bosom. Trust no one.”

Augustus: “Is there anyone in Rome who has not slept with my daughter?!?!?!”

Caligula: “Yes, sometimes I think that I’m going mad. Do you – be honest with me – has that thought ever crossed your mind?”
Claudius: (humoring him) “Never. Never. The idea is preposterous. You set the standard of sanity for the whole world.”

Tiberius: (On his mother) “They say a snake bit her once… and died.”

Tiberius: “I wonder sometimes mother if you ever did anything so natural as giving birth.”
This miniseries aired in the mid-1970s and included some very great names… Brian Blessed roaring and bellowing as Augustus, George Baker as Tiberius, John Hurt barking mad as Caligula, Shelia White as Messslina, Siân Phillips marvelously portrayed Livia, plus Patrick Stewart, John Rhys-Davis, John Bennett, Peter Bowles, Kevin Stoney… and, of course, Derek Jacobi as Clau- Clau- Claudius.

If you have time for thirteen 50-minute episodes and enjoy Machiavellian plans, rich characters, unpleasant murders and assassinations, illicit affairs, and trouble families this is for you.


Lucius Vorenus: “Do you think of nothing but women?”
Titus Pullo: “What else is there? Food, I suppose.”

Lucius Vorenus: “Fortune pisses on me once again!”

Mark Antony: “A courier came from Alexandria. Caesar has lifted the siege and massacred the armies of Ptolemy. He is safe and sound, and master of all of Egypt. (Laughs) The man is a damn prodigy!”

Atia of the Julii: “By the five Furies, if I was not a gentle woman I would have you flayed and hung from a bracket at the door!”
I am not familiar with the actors of “Rome”, although I saw Polly Walker in “Enchanted April”… however in this series she’s extremely hot! She’s also wonderfully sinister, manipulative, calculating, and can “motivate men”… if you know what I mean. ;)

Apparently, a second series of “Rome” is due on HBO in January (probably starting on the BBC soon)… my wife even mentioned that she heard something on the bonus features of the series DVDs that a third series is in the works. Since HBO also has a hand in it I’m not surprised. However, I saw a little note online saying HBO will cancel “Rome” after season two. Considering they fronted the lion’s share of the budget for season one I expect the BBC will not be making a third series either.


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