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The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 26 March 1964 (USA)
The death of Marcus Aurelius leads to a succession crisis, in which the deceased emperor's son, Commodus, demonstrates that he is unwilling to let anything undermine his claim to the Roman Empire.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Cleander
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Julianus
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Polybius
Douglas Wilmer ...
Niger
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Norman Wooland ...
Virgilianus
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Storyline

Action-packed look at the beginnings of the fall of the Roman Empire. Here is the glory, the greed and grandeur that was Rome. Here is the story of personal lust for power, and the shattering effects of that power's loss. Here is the tale of the plight of a people living on the brink of a political abyss. Written by filmfactsman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Their world was ending...the barbarians were at the gate...this was the time when passions, appetites, emotions ran wild See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 March 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La caída del imperio romano  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,750,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1970 re-release)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints)| (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was one of the few Ultra Panavision 70 films not exhibited in Cinerama. See more »

Goofs

When Commodus and Livius are holding the torch during Marcus Aurelius' funeral pyre, their hands move further away from the flame between shots. See more »

Quotes

Victorinus: We're in command now Livius, the throne is yours.
Senator: Gaius Mettelus Livius, the people are asking for you.
Livius: You would not find me very suitable, because my first official act would be to have you all crucified.
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User Reviews

 
The Nail in the Coffin
17 October 2006 | by See all my reviews

the philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guiness) summons the leaders of the Empire to the northern Frontier. he plans to announce his desire to place his power in the hands of his loyal star general (Boyd), rather than to his wild, unpredictable son Commodus (Plummer). He is killed before doing so and the Empire crumbles under Commodus.

"The Fall of the Roman Empire" was the nail in its genre's coffin. Ponderous, expensive, it bombed and put the swords'n'sandals epic in a coma for a good 34 years, until the arrival of "Gladiator", with which it shares quite a few story similarities. But where Ridley Scott's film is lean and mean, Anthony Mann's is slow, stately and overly in love with its production design. It also has undeniable weaknesses. Stephen Boyd is bland and uninteresting, Sophia Lauren is painfully bad in many scenes, and the haughty tone is often overbearing, as if the film were too important to bother with simple, human emotions (though whenever it does, it fails, as the calamitous romantic scenes prove). It never helps that the music is ghastly beyond words.

This epic does have its supporters, however, and a few very precise elements are the cause of that: the sets are indeed sumptuous, John Mason keeps his dignity and his scenes with Alec Guiness are a pleasure to watch. The hero to worship here is Christopher Plummer. Plummer can do dark and ambitious, but he is unnervingly charming and dangerous as Commodus.

So in fewer words: not a complete waste of your time. A film that could have been better with different actors as its romantic leads.


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