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Mark Furnival

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Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (6 DVD Gift Pack)
Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (6 DVD Gift Pack)

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Qualified Thumbs Up, 21 Feb. 2011
The historical narrative and expert opinion (in the four main DVDs) is of a high standard, giving the key points of the unfolding events without descending into melodrama or populism. The episodes cover a very long period of complicated history and it is perhaps inevitable that whole chunks are missing (falling, as it were, "between episodes"). You will search for Boudicca, Julian the Apostate and Caracalla in vain, for example. It is difficult to be too critical of this - selections have to be made, and some colourful characters and events must inevitably fall by the wayside. The loss is counter-balanced by the deeper level of detail in the events that *have* survived.

As for the graphical element... Frankly, the entire series would have been better if the "re-enactments" had been omitted altogther. Let's take for example the Roman soldiers, who appear in the same uniforms and armour for the *entire* series, spanning five centuries. As for the generic barbarians (almost always on foot, even the Parthians who were famous horse-mounted warriors), eternally fighting over the same bit of Baltic forest... This not only fails to inform but, far worse, it misinforms. Roman soldiers neither looked like that (for most of the period under question) or fought like that.

Never mind though. For anyone genuinely interested in the broad narrative of Roman Imperial history, this boxed set is a worthwhile addition to the library, albeit better listened to than watched.

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