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I, Claudius: Parts 3 And 4 [VHS] [1976]


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Product details

  • Actors: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, George Baker
  • Format: Colour, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: BBC
  • VHS Release Date: 24 Jan 2000
  • Run Time: 324 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CLJQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,545 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

The third and fourth parts of the BBC drama series, detailing the excesses of the Roman Empire as set down by the Emperor Claudius (Derek Jacobi). Upon the death of Tiberius (George Baker), Caligula (John Hurt) is made Emperor. When he declares himself a god, the Senate accept his proclamation. Assassins eventually bring Caligula's reign of madness to an end, resulting in Claudius being claimed as Emperor by the Roman Guard. He rules well, but is unaware that his wife Messalina plots against him.

From Amazon.co.uk

Herbert Wise, who had previously directed part of Elizabeth R (1971), and who would helm the BBC Television Shakespeare Julius Caesar (1979), concludes his study of the ruthless conflicts of Rome's First Family. Events become increasingly frenzied as Caligula bloodily slaughters his way to power, making a senator of his favourite horse along the way. Fresh from The Naked Civil Servant (1975), John Hurt plays the tyrant with psychotic fury, a role reworked for the big screen by Malcolm McDowell in the world's first, and last, hardcore pornographic epic, Caligula (1979). This is fortunately more subtle, with the drama seeing Claudius effectively age from youth to old age, eventually becoming Emperor. Derek 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 and Bernard Hepton. Patrick Stewart meanwhile moves through the ages, from the murderous Praetorian Guard Captain Sejanus, to the rather more heroic Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1986-93). I Claudius was abortively filmed in 1937 by Charles Laughton, and it might be supposed the original novels at least partly inspired Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, serialised by the BBC in 2000. --Gary S. Dalkin

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 145 people found the following review helpful By MR BEN W HALTON on 14 May 2003
Format: DVD
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 By Mr. P. D. Humphreys on 19 Dec 2008
Format: DVD
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 By Helen Gabell on 20 Sep 2002
Format: DVD
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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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Green Knight on 9 April 2010
Format: DVD
"I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, this that and the other, am now about to begin ......"

The opening words of this extraordinary series are the stuff of legend. Derek Jacobi as the Emperor Claudius, with his limp and his stammer (the yardstick by which all subsequent actorish stammers have been measured) and the remarkable makeup that takes him from old man to young man to old again turns in such a superb performance throughout the eleven episodes that he must be numbered one of the all-time greats in television drama.

The supporting cast is no less impressive - from the deadly Livia of Sian Phillips, the fiercely matriarchal Antonia of Margaret Tyzack (why was she never made a DBE ?) and Brian Blessed's homely, bumbling Augustus Caesar - down through the ranks to the minor roles, what we have here is ensemble playing of the highest quality.

It is deliciously theatrical - mainly because that was how the series was conceived. It could never have been 'Ben Hur' - or any other toga-clad epic with thousands of extras in a sun-drenched location - studio drama was never like that, and it's often a better and more powerful product because of its necessary limitations. 'I, Claudius' begins with a script that is a masterpiece of adaptation. Anyone who has ever ploughed through Robert Graves's original novels (yes, there are two of them, and mighty hefty they are) will realise the Herculean labour undertaken by Jack Pulman (who also adapted the BBC's 'War & Peace') and will have to agree that he did a superb job with extremely exacting material.

The novels contain very little dialogue, with most of what speech there is reported by the narrator, Claudius.
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