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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop the confusion
Please stop the confusion. There won't be a 'wide-screen' version of the movie. Not here, not in Germany or France, not in the U.S, where the film will be released on March 17th.
Quo Vadis was made prior to the advent of widescreen projection and stereophonic sound. It is presented, as in its original theatrical release, with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio and monophonic...
Published on 10 Feb 2009 by Thomas Thiemeyer

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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "...Yes Divinity...It's A Work Of Singular Genius." "Are you sure Petronius...?"
After 3 tortuous years in the making and adapted from Henryk Sienkiwicz's huge book, "Quo Vadis" was unleashed on the public in early 1952 - just in time for maximum exposure at the Oscars in March. Costing a staggering $7 million dollars (a figure that even now seems extravagant), the sandals and sand epic did huge box office business in a post-war world hungry for pure...
Published on 24 May 2009 by Mark Barry


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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop the confusion, 10 Feb 2009
By 
Please stop the confusion. There won't be a 'wide-screen' version of the movie. Not here, not in Germany or France, not in the U.S, where the film will be released on March 17th.
Quo Vadis was made prior to the advent of widescreen projection and stereophonic sound. It is presented, as in its original theatrical release, with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio and monophonic soundtrack. Because of its extreme length and detailed photography, WHV has spread the film over two discs in order to maximize bit-rate and insure the highest quality picture presentation.
This is the best version you can get for a long time, so sit back and enjoy,
Thomas
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great blockbusters, 24 Jan 2009
By 
Guy Mannering (Maidenhead, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951] (DVD)
Polish author Henryk Sienciewicz (pronounced I believe shee-en-kay-evich) published his novel Quo Vadis in 1896, and like The Last Days of Pompeii and Ben-Hur it met with instant and enduring international success (Henryk went on to win the Nobel Prize) both literary and cinematic. The story is set in ancient Rome during the reign of emperor Nero. The centurion Marcus Vinicius falls in love with christian girl Lygia but Marcus has caught the lustful eye of Nero's feline empress and when the mad emperor sets Rome on fire she suggests that the blame should be placed on the christians who are then rounded up and thrown to the lions. Sienciewicz weaves the characters of the apostles Peter and Paul into his story and the novel's title derives from the legend that as Peter is fleeing the persecution in Rome he encounters along the Appian Way a vision of Christ and the apostle asks the question "Quo Vadis Domine?" or "Where are you going Lord?". It is the answer to this question that convinces Peter that he must return to Rome and face matyrdom.

Movies based on classical or biblical subjects were a staple of the silent cinema from the earliest days and there were at least two silent versions of Quo Vadis.Indeed the first version of 1912, followed by The Last Days of Pompeii and Cabiria, all made in Italy, can be credited with establishing the cinema as a serious art form. But with the advent of the talkies the popularity of the genre started to wane. Cecil B. deMille attempted to revive it in the early 30s with The Sign of the Cross (the storyline of which closely resembles that of Quo Vadis)and his risible Cleopatra and the team at RKO who gave us King Kong had another stab at The Last Days of Pompeii in 1935, but these movies enjoyed only limited success and after them the genre was pretty much stone dead. A revival started in the late 40s, first with Fabiola, a Franco-Italian production, and then in Hollywood with deMille's Sampson and Delilah. MGM had had Quo Vadis on the back-burner for a number of years and it was probably the success of Samson and Delilah that spurred MGM on to have another bash at it in 1951 with no expense spared, and the result was a lavish, jaw-dropping spectacle which even in our age of CGI effects has few equals. The movie in fact was made in Rome, MGM figuring they could get double the value for their dollars in impoverished post-war Italy - hence the cast of thousands. The success of this blockbuster led to another 15 years of epic productions (and not-so-epic in the case of Italian sword-and-sandal productions of the 50s and early 60s) before once again fashions changed and the genre fizzled out until Gladiator inspired a brief revival in the late 20th century.

The movie holds up remarkably well. The production values, the musical score by Miklos Rozsa and the casting are all superb (only Robert Taylor as the hero Marcus Vinicius is perhaps a tad too old and stodgy for the part). The one actor who leaves an indelible impression is of course Peter Ustinov at the beginning of his career who gives an enjoyably OTT performance as Nero, both hilarious in his deluded belief that he is a great musician and fatally susceptible to the malign influence of his empress Poppaea (the fabulous Patricia Laffan) and the flattery of his suave courtier Petronius (the uncle of Marcus played by Leo Genn. Petronius and Poppaea are based on real historical characters.)

The technical quality of this 2-disc release is excellent, the digital remastering has resulted in a crisp picture with vibrant colour and Rozsa's brassy score sounds wonderfully sonorous. Some nice extras too including a documentary on the making of Quo Vadis from which I learned that at an early stage MGM were eying up Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich(presumably to play Nero and his feline empress) and rather more seriously considered Gregory Peck for the part of Marcus Vinicius (another stolid actor like Bob Taylor, but he might have looked fresher and younger.) The documentary also gives an insight into how those monumental sets of imperial Rome and Nero's circus were achieved. A highly recommendable release then and the Amazon price makes it a bargain.

There are two other versions of Quo Vadis you can consider. "It was longer than Quo Vadis" was an Aussie joke I once heard, the reference being to the MGM version. The 1980s TV mini-series, in which Klaus-Maria Brandauer gives an outstanding performance as Nero, actually manages to be twice as long, has none of the great dollops of spectacle and over-the-top performances that fitfully enliven the MGM version, and it's slow moving and a tad cerebral, one might almost call it an "arthouse" Quo Vadis. Hence this production often receives a rather negative critical reaction but unfairly so in my opinion. Its recreation of the Roman world is more authentic than MGM's and historically it's more accurate with the writers skilfully weaving into the plot of Sienciewicz's novel additional material from the ancient historians. The empress Poppaea is also correctly portrayed as a hapless victim of Nero's brutality rather than, as in the MGM version, his evil genius. Brandauer portrays Nero as a slimey psychopath, you don't dare laugh at this guy as you do at Ustinov's Nero.

Rather closer to the MGM version is the recent Polish production which you may find difficult to track down with subtitles but if like me you persevere you'll be rewarded. It's a mighty impressive production and the final scenes in the amphitheatre are as impressive as anything you'll see in the MGM version or the more recent Gladiator. It suffers from a rather underpowered Nero but of the three versions it has the best-looking Marcus Vinicius and Lygia. In my opinion all three versions are worth watching, but maybe not one after the other.

Finally, you may care to take a peek at the Sign of the Cross from 1932 which is available in the deMille collection (also reviewed by me.) Wilson Barrett's play, which he later turned into a novel, appeared almost at the same time as Quo Vadis was published circa 1896 and has a remarkably similar storyline, but the suspicion has to be that he engaged in a bit of nifty plagiarism. DeMille turned it into one of his most impressive movies with Charles Laughton giving a splendid performance as a pampered and blubbery Nero, likewise Claudette Colbert as a mean and evil Poppaea, and the climactic bloodbath in the amphitheatre is even gorier than MGM dared to attempt 20 years later.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quo Vadis 2009 dvd editon, 18 Mar 2009
This review is from: Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951] (DVD)
Quo Vadis . The very name conjures up the sweeping spectacle of the old blockbuster age. Based on Hollywoods version of ancient Rome and the Emperor Nero,s dealing with the Christians and the spectacle of his burning Rome to make way for his grand scheme for its renewal,which leads to his demise. It,s a long film but somehow the time sweeps away whist you gaze affectionately at what could be achieved before the marvels of CGI, although i am not always a fan of CGI because its pretty obvious in some films that what you are looking at is false anyway. The costumes in brilliant technicolor are sumptious and the sets are on a grand scale.(stock footage from this film has turned up in many lesser fims about ancient Rome or even Atlantis if my memory serves me right.) The acting is interesting in many ways. Some performers Peter Ustinov as Nero hams his way through the film whilst Deborah Kerr looking so lovely portrays the young hostage who now lives in the home of her protector General Gallio (now a christian ). Of course the love action comes from Robert Taylor, a Roman Tribune, who is besotted by Kerr at first,treating her as a hostage without any rights, until he finally falls for her charms and her christian ideals . It leads him in fact to the Arena where the christians are put to death by feeding them to the lions or by being crucified and burnt. Even Peter makes an appearance and is swiftly done away with . The religious themes are dealt with exactly as they would be imagined for its time . but they are never too over done because they are not given much screen time. This edition of Quo Vadis has been cleaned up and has an intermission and overture music . In fact its real good to see the film presented in this manner . It evokes a sense of occasion reminding one of past visits to the cinema when the public were cajoled by all these things to settle down to enjoy the film . Something modern film makers might consider when editing their films as some of us like to spend quality time in the cinema watching good films without a thrill a minute but the art of storytelling needs to be revived . Too much emphasis on action and not intelligent dialogue is the order of the day. Quo Vadis although not the most brilliant of films does however entertain on several levels . This is a film that you could watch many times and see things you may have missed on one viewing. Forget its imperfections but just sit back and throw yourself into its splendour They dont make many like this these days .
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great and magnificent in every sense, 30 Jun 2003
By 
Gabriela Hofer (Vienna, Vienna Austria) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Quo Vadis [VHS] [1952] (VHS Tape)
I love it. From all the epics made in Hollywood it has the best script. I don't know another one that makes me laugh. This one truly has a good sense of humor and sarcasm. Not to forget the story about love, hate, courage - simply everything that makes a good movie. The actors are great - no one will forget Peter Ustinov's performance, and Robert Taylor - here he is not only as handsome as a man can be, his acting is also fine with a good sense of irony, great professionalism, topped by a very charming appearance.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is the correct one, 1 Feb 2009
By 
S. R. Williams (London) - See all my reviews
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If you have seen this film before you will not need a review, I just wanted to point out that it is the correct film, I have this on my Blu-ray player as I type and this film certainly stars Robert Taylor, Peter Ustinov and Deborah Kerr, the picture is as you would expect from a Blu-ray film, outstanding for a film made in 1951, if you are worried that they have the wrong film out on blu-ray do not fear, I just have to point out to the previous review, because the states are not putting the film out for a few months does not mean the UK can not issue it first, after all the original Batman films are out on Blu-ray here but not in the US yet, buy this you will not be dissapointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As they say; "they don't make them like this anymore"., 17 Jun 2012
By 
F. J. Dukes "Broadmayne" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951] (DVD)
I saw this in the Cinema on a later release and was fascinated by it. As reviewers on the DVD extras say, it was in many ways the biggest and best of the blockbusters with clever performances by the mainly British actors although Robert Taylor's accent does jar in contrast to those. The resources and techniques used before CGI are stunning and the cast of 10,000s extras puts it way beyond what would be attempted today. Everyone praises Peter Ustinov, and rightly so, but Leo Genn in the sardonic role is better, I think. The quality of the restoration for this DVD issue is startling and shows what could be done with Technicolour 60 years ago. More enjoyable than later Epics, including Ben Hur, because it retains some humour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lars-Göran L, 8 Nov 2011
I would say it's a classic's .About the rome's ebics day's . It is the movie for those how likes movies like gladitor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Oldy But A Goody But Now Better, 11 Nov 2010
Simply put if you have any interest in costumes, sets and large grandiose productions of past Hollywood movie making talents you will be very happy with this remastered epic.
We were and highly recommend its purchase to anyone.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bread and circuses, 10 Mar 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
One of the epic genre's most reliable warhorses, with at least nine screen adaptations from the first one-reel silent version in 1901 to the 2001 Polish minseries-cum-movie, Henry Sienkiewicz's Quo Vadis in many ways set the template for all the epics about the Roman Empire's persecution of Christians that would follow, from The Sign of the Cross to The Robe. As might be expected from the novel's 1895 vintage, it's more myth than history, but its twin narratives of lovers initially separated by religious differences and later by Nero's need for a scapegoat after the burning of Rome and of the court intrigues as the mad emperor plans his greatest artistic masterpiece offers something for everyone with its mixture of spectacle, cruelty, piety and perversity to get across its message that selfless love is better than selfish ambition.

MGM's initially troubled 1951 version may have got off to a false start a couple of years earlier when Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Walter Huston and John Huston stumbled at the first hurdle when Peck developed an eye infection three days before they were supposed to leave for Rome even though an estimated million dollars had already been spent, but Mervyn Le Roy's recast completed film is still the definitive one. It might have been a couple of years too early for the wide screen, but it's perfectly placed in time between old school morality - no difficult questions asked here - and more sophisticated and lavish filmmaking than had ever been seen before. While the film has its fair share of model shots and matte paintings, the latter even managing to give the illusion of movement thanks to Peter Ellenshaw's ingenuity, its pre-CGI vintage guarantees it a genuine cast of thousands (a young Sophia Loren lost in the crowd of extras in the triumph scene among them) and massive sets with all the artistry Cinecitta's Italian technicians could give it thanks to MGM's almost blank cheque production.

The end result isn't a patch on the level of intelligence and maturity that Roman epics like Ben-Hur and Spartacus would bring to the genre less than a decade later, but it's an impressively staged and mostly entertaining big show that, like the novel, provides something for everyone. For the old school there's Robert Taylor's brash and vain conquering general's romance with Deborah Kerr's Christian hostage who constantly befuddles all his arrogant certainties, which dutifully ticks all the clichéd boxes of the genre as he finally Sees The Light and becomes a better person. Taylor's old-fashioned movie star turn is never as wince-inducing as, say, Frederic March's Marcus Superbus in The Sign of the Cross, but he's still effortlessly outmatched by Kerr's sincerity in a thankless role as the good girl with the hots for him while Finlay Currie's sermonising as Peter - complete with reverential tableaux courtesy of Da Vinci - seems more dreary professional than passionate. Much more interesting is the relationship between the cynical poet and courtier Petronius (Leo Genn) and Peter Ustinov's scene-stealing homicidal spoiled brat Nero, as the born survivor uses his wits not to improve matters for the people but to improve his own chances with a kind of bemused detachment before realising the horrifying consequences of all his flattery. Petronius and the slave who loves him (Marina Berti) even get the film's best love theme in Miklos Rozsa's impressive score. All this and Anthony Mann's fire of Rome scene making a decent stab at making the burning of Atlanta look like a backyard bonfire and all the Christians, lions and crucifixions you could want in the arena giving it that essential mixture of piety and exploitation that lets the audience enjoy the carnage and decadence of the bread and circuses as much as their Roman forebears without losing their sense of moral superiority. Nero would have approved - though he would have wanted to change the ending...

It's a handsome looking film and Warner Home Video's restoration mostly does it proud. The film's popularity over the past six decades had taken quite a toll on the original negative, with TV and video prints bleached out and undetailed, but a lot of work has gone into restoring the color and definition to make it look almost as good as it did when it came out. There are a few minor niggles here and there where a patch of green in the wrong place makes its presence felt for a couple of frames (a common problem with early Technicolor) and it's irritating that the DVD is spread over two DVDs with the scene break in the middle of a sequence, but otherwise there's little to complain about (not a problem with the single-disc Bluray, though the picture quality is not a huge upgrade from the DVD). Along with the striking teaser trailer built around a still of the triumph scene that appeared in Life Magazine and the full five-and-a-half minute trailer there's an audio commentary by F.X. Feeney and a 43-minute documentary. Unfortunately there's a real lack of behind the scenes footage, no-one involved in the making of the film participates, and none of the talking heads have researched the film in detail (Richard Schickel in particular feels like he just offered a few soundbites while being interviewed about another film, though Christopher Frayling is typically good value), but it is a decent overview of the genre and its unpopularity with critics and appeal to audiences.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quo Vadis, 11 Jan 2011
By 
A. J. Harrison (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951] (DVD)
General Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) returns to Rome a hero after his 3 year campaign. On his return he is sent to live with a retierd Roman General were he meets and falls in love with his adopted daughter Lygia (Deborah Karr), but the only problem is she is a Christian and wants nothing to do with him. Nero (Peter Ustinov) blaims the Christians for the burning of Roman and sends his Praetorian Guard to round them up so he can throw them to the lions, so Marcus sets out to save her.

This is a beautifully shot film with wonderful rich Technicolor photography. Director Mervyn Le Roy handles the huge cast brilliantly and sets up some great sequences (the best been Roman Army entering Rome and the final Area scene). Robert Taylor is good in the lead role and he gives a very belivable performance, as does Deborah Karr as a women torn between her love for Marcus and her Christian Religion. Peter Ustinov is perfectly crazy and is hilarious in his portrayal of Nero.

This is a entertaining film that kept me lock in for the entire 167 Minute running time and has to be one of the best Sword and Sandal epics of all time. If you like this, Id recommend Barabbas, The Robe and Demetrius and the Gladiators
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Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951]
Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951] by Mervyn le Roy (DVD - 2009)
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