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Fall of the Roman Empire (2)

Fall of the Roman Empire (1964): ‘Rome everywhere’

“You have come from the deserts of Egypt … and the plains of Spain. You do not resemble each other … Yet … you are the unity which is Rome … we come now to the end of the road. Here, within our reach, golden centuries of peace. A true Pax Romana…

“No longer provinces, or colonies, but Rome — Rome everywhere.” —Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness), Fall (1964)

  • Recap: Fall of the Roman Epic
  • mis-selling epic: reviews and publicity
  • Fall and generic closure:

1. Fall vs. Quo Vadis (1951): mise-en-scène, cinematography

2. Fall vs. Cleopatra (1963): thematic resonance, ‘book-ends’ to time-line

  • Fall as filmic ‘intertext’:

1. last hurrah of the old ensemble

2. round-up of all the tropes

3. screen-test for future Roman talent

  • Gladiator: Fall without the Gibbon?

Where did the Roman epic go from here?

  • TV miniseries (e.g. I, Claudius); cf. biblical epic; and cf. straight-to-video togas in the aftermath of Gladiator
  • overseas (Fellini Satyricon, cf. Jarman’s Sebastiane)
  • pornographic (Caligula, again cf. Sebastiane)
  • Into SF fancy dress (Star Wars)

Where it didn’t go, on the whole:

  • Ancient Greece

“If you listen carefully you will hear the gods laughing.”—Commodus (Christopher Plummer)