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Fall of the Roman Empire (1)

Fall of the Roman Empire (1964): introduction

“SPECTACULAR, LAVISH B.O. MAGNET” —headline in Hollywood Reporter, Monday, March 23, 1964

“It seems to me the night whispers, ‘Come away with me to the West, sleep for ever. What has another day to offer you?” —Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness), Fall (1964)

Opening credits and voice-over:

  • A self-consciously ‘late’ Roman epic
  • A different kind of Roman Empire? The case of the missing Christians
  • Fall as historiography
  • Gibbon’s Decline and Fall
  • Decline and Fall as conservative trope
  • ‘Fall of the Roman Epic’?
  • Biblical Epics (1993): Babington & Evans’ analysis of generic fall

“[Mann’s characters] move within the film as if they had already read the conclusion of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall” —Peter Bondanella, The Eternal City (1987) 225

“The future is dark, the present burdensome; only the past, dead and finished, bears contemplation.”—Geoffrey Elton, The Practice of History (1966)