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I Claudius [DVD] [1976] [US Import] [NTSC]

Derek Jacobi , John Hurt    DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (306 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Siān Phillips, Brian Blessed, George Baker
  • Writers: Robert Graves, Bill Duncalf
  • Producers: Bill Duncalf
  • Format: Box set, Colour, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 15 Aug 2000
  • Run Time: 740 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (306 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004U12X
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 203,088 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



A truly epic saga of dynastic conflict at the heart of Imperial Rome, I Claudius was the landmark BBC drama series of the 1970s. Originally transmitted as 13 50-minute episodes, the series dramatises the human face of ancient Rome as interpreted by Robert Graves in his two enormously complex novels, I, Claudius and Claudius The God. Derek Jacobi gives one of the greatest television performances ever as Claudius, the appalled chronicler of the decadence, corruption, intrigue and carnage which comes with the absolute power of his ruling family. Augustus (Brian Blessed) is Emperor and Livia (Sian Phillips) his scheming, ambitious wife, Claudius's aunt. By virtue of his stammer and uncontrollable twitches, Claudius passes for a fool, thus escaping the poisonous machinations of Livia, all the while recording the comings and goings of the Imperial household.

Events become increasingly frenzied as Caligula (John Hurt playing the tyrant with psychotic fury) bloodily slaughters his way to power, making a senator of his favourite horse along the way. Claudius eventually becomes Emperor himself, and Jacobi is simply magnificent in the intensely moving finale, which is not to overlook the rest of a fine cast, including: George Baker; Ian Ogilvy; Christopher Guard; Stratford Johns; John Rhys-Davies; Bernard Hepton and Patrick Stewart as the murderous Praetorian Guard Captain Sejanus. Inevitably lacking the visual scale of cinematic features such as Ben-Hur, and today looking more studio-bound than ever, I, Claudius remains a television masterpiece of intelligently written and rivetingly intense character drama. --Gary S Dalkin

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC DRAMA AT ITS BEST 14 May 2003
An epic soap opera following the life and times of the great imperial Cesars in Rome at the height of its world power. Massive helpings of sex, intrigue, violence and madness all acted with gusto by a stellar British cast, aided by a witty script and skillful direction. Both Derek Jacobi as Claudius and especially John Hurt as Caligula are absolutely mesmerising. If you know nothing of this period in history you will learn much even if a great deal of artistic license was used by Robert Graves in his books on which this series is based. Knowing how each member of the extended and inter-married imperial family is related to the other can be sometimes confusing but is essential in following the plot and if you pay sufficient attention you will be rewarded. Some great extras on the DVD too with an hour long retrospective containing interviews with all the major players and the cast choosing their favourite scenes being among the best. Theres an absolutely essential family tree as well but its a bit of a spoiler so best left til last. ...As well as being a great example of why the BBC was once so deserving of its reputation as a leading force in TV drama throughout the world, what you are getting here is the chance to immerse yourself for a few hours in a gripping story set in a studio-bound but convincingly Roman world, one that you will be utterly grateful you had the great fortune not to have been born into.
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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece! 19 Dec 2008
I remember seeing thie series on the TV many years ago, and I wondered how it would compare to my memories.

The bad stuff first: this dates from the time when the BBC used videotape, rather than film. Everything is studio-bound, and all the sets, even the most ambitious, are obviously just that, with multiple shadows. The picture quality is also soft, though the colour isn't too bad. As for the box, it contains precious little about the production: shame on you, BBC.

The good stuff: the artificiality actually helps, as you start to see this as a theatrical production, rather than a realistic one. And as such, it is tremendously gripping, with Graves' words impeccably transferred to the new medium, and a dream cast, with no weak link. Almost immediately you are drawn into the plot (Claudius doesn't actually appear for ages, but you don't care), and you are held until the end. Yes, it really is that good!
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105 of 108 people found the following review helpful
I saw this on when I was at school back in the 70's, when it was first shown (twice a week), and when it was repeated in the 80's. I have since bought the videos. This dedication must go some way to show how incredibly powerful the acting and script are in this portrayal of Imperial Roman life from Augustus to Nero. Personally I can't wait to see them restored on DVD, complete with cast interviews.
The power of this series lay in it's use of small sets, making the intrigue far more personal and believable. Poison dripped from every word, look and gesture of Sian Phillips as Livia. John Hurt was incredibly disturbed & disturbing as Caligula, and Derek Jacobi was amazing as Claudius, surviving when all around fell.
The biggest problem with I Claudius is that the acting and story are so powerful, I often find myself thinking of the actors Roman characters when I see them in other things.
This is a must watch piece of classic BBC drama, with the cream of British acting talent.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless genius 22 Oct 2002
This series was made and televised before I was even born and, let's be honest, it shows. No location filming, obvious wigs, bad makeup... the first time my father put it on I couldn't believe how low the production quality really was.
But within five minutes I was gripped. There is some truly sensational acting on display in this masterpiece, Derek Jacobi in particular (his list of credits is long but his most recent high-profile role was Cadfael in the adaptations of Ellis Peters' novels) is superb as the narrator and hero. Portraying each age of the character from stuttering young boy dismissed as an idiot, to bitter old man poisoned by his wife but who yet gets the last laugh, Jacobi tackles the difficulties of the role with gusto and incredible acting skill. In fact it's hard to pick a character anywhere in the series who is not convincingly portrayed.
By the time I'd watched the finale I could barely believe I'd sat through twelve episodes of this work of genius. Never before and never since have I seen such consistently brilliant acting. So much so that my twenty-something brain, spoiled by special effects and computer wizardry, no longer noticed the wigs, the false noses and the polystyrene sets. I only saw the people who played their parts in this (vaguely accurate) historical story. And that is an achievement that will make "I, Claudius" worthy viewing forever. Highly recommended.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD edition of a wonderful series 21 Dec 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
First, the series is complete and uncensored in this DVD collection. Second, the sound quality is excellent. The only problem with the DVD is that each disc is in a cardboard slip that makes it dfficult to get the disc out. You have to grab it and hence smudge it a bit as you take it out. But this DVD is well worth getting. I saw the series when it aired in the U.S. in 1976 and was amazed at how well it still holds up, from the opening sequence with the slithering snake on. Derek Jacobi and John Hurt turn in excellent performances and the screenplay adaptation fo Robert Grave's novel is superb. I ordered this DVD edition after reading that the U.S. DVD edition is horrible (poor sound, poor image qulaity, and censored episodes). I'm glad I did.
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