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4.7 out of 5 stars292
4.7 out of 5 stars
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I watched Rome when it first aired on the BBC in 2005 and thought it was amazing. It's been 5 years, now, and I saw it was fairly cheap on Amazon so got it for Christmas. It's only 3 days later and I've already seen most of the first series!

The thing that stands out this time around is just how good Rome was. The fall of the Roman Republic is quite possibly the most tumultuous period in Political history so the writers were always onto a winner when writing a big-budget drama. Watching the drama and violence may seem over-the-top, but practically all the major events and murders depicted here happened. In fact, if anything, despite this being one of the most violent and perverse mainstream dramas broadcast, the writers have shied away from the darker and more indulgent aspects of ancient Rome -- Mark Anthony, for instance, had several gay (as well as countless heterosexual) affairs and used to attend wild parties dressed as a god, in a chariot pulled by lions! (Anthony here, played superbly by James Purefoy, is still outrageous by modern standards, but surely the reality would have been too much to stomach for the BBC).

Where the writers succeed, though, is meshing this story onto strong, utterly-compelling character-driven plotting set within a landscape so fantastically realised that practically every shot takes your breath away. The day-to-day dirty, violent, horny reality of life in ancient cities has surely never been more accurately and beautifully portrayed. The streets of Rome are alive before your eyes, and the characters whose lives you follow through them are equally captivating (the hilarious and brutal story of unlikely friends, Centurion Lucius Vorenus and legionarie Titus Pullo; the family drama of high-society Atia and her children Ovtavia and Octavian (the future emperor Augustus); the political and military careers, the lives and loves of Anthony and Caesar; and supporting plots concerning the plotting against Caesar, the working conditions of Rome, the pagan religions and sacrifices, not to mention the careers and demises of Cato, Cicero and Brutus). As I say, the writers already had writing gold before they even put fingers to keyboard, but the effort they have put in to covering so many of Rome's facets, to also create memorising and loveable characters, has to be lauded as one of the best written dramas of our age.

Rome does have its faults (some historical inaccuracies and -- largely due to the events covered in series one being so powerful -- the second season isn't quite as strong), but there is nothing else like it (if you have been put off watching this from seeing the Tudors, give it a go, I think you will be surprised by the difference). I think I enjoyed Rome more second time around. I guess because it has been and gone and nothing has come close to matching it for sheer extravagance, debauchery and spectacle. I can't wait to watch it on Blue-Ray )

If (as I) you are interested in reading more about Caesar and Rome after viewing this, I'd recommend Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic (which covers the same period as season one) and Caesar: The Life of a Colossus (which is a comprehensive biography of Caesar, and covers his early life and military career in Gaul as well as events after the Rubicon).
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on 16 February 2012
I watched the first series on TV and couldn't wait for the second - two long years later I said farewell to those two unlikely friends and shed a tear...

A few years later, I bought this boxed set for a friend - at the time, so he told me later, he wondered why I would buy him such an unlikely gift... it took him three months to watch it; he spoke to me after the first episode, thanking me!

I had to invest in my own boxed set after that and relive the tale, told so well it's like you are in Ancient Rome it's self.

Usually I look for the tell tail signs of poor sets/costumes/etc but in truth, this has to be the most delightful historically perfect production ever!

A joy, I can now partake of when ever I wish.

If you love historical drama, coupled with bawdy humour and bitingly realistic scenes of an adult nature then this is for you!
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on 4 April 2010
Fantastic ! Absolutley brilliant. Sex, violence, politics. This is what a period drama should aspire to be like !! Whilst historically accurate or not, the sets and story lines will leave you hooked and wanting more. And while James Purefoy gets all the best story lines, and admittedly girls, as the brutish Mark Antony - it's the sensational performance of Simon Woods, as the cold and calculating Octavian who steals the show. This box set is probably the best period drama ever made, and is essential viewing.
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We just watched this again after a long time and once again, I found myself utterly riveted not just by the wonderful (creative) historical reconstruction but for the subtlety of its view of human possibility and pathological seekers of power. This series pleases on many levels.

On the one hand, the historical details are very fun: it is the fundamental turning point of antiquity, when the Roman Republic - the last important proto-democratic experiment that had lasted 450 years - is rubbed out for good. Julius Caesar, the greatest Roman military genius of them all, will not accept the political maneuverings of his personal foes, who wrap themselves in the call to preserve a republic that had long ceased to function. Either Caesar is a villain bent on dictatorship, or they are demagogues - it is left to the viewer to decide. Once Caesar is assassinated, another kind of political genius emerges, Octavian (later Augustus), who at the age of 19 climbs to the summit of power in Rome and then a few years later wins power as an enlightened despot/dictator. You get to know Cato, Cicero, Marc Anthony, Brutus, Servilia, Cleopatra, and Agrippa, to name just a few of the characters who are all acted to perfection.

On the other hand, you have the psychodramas that are going on behind the scenes. Not only does Octavian's family, shall we say, operate with literally murderous dysfunction, but you have Vorenus and Tullo, two more common soldiers who embody different aspects of this transitional period. Octavian's family is typical that of brutal courtier-aristocrats, as his mother Atia seeks to manipulate events to fulfill her need for love/domination and security. But the two working class guys, who are highly fictionalized though apparently are mentioned in Caesar's histories and who witness events as they try to build healthier family lives and make their ways outside of the military apparatus, are the most interesting in my view; they provide a wonderful melodrama that reveals much about the society and its evolution. Of course, they do get into a few too many situations to be believable (each of them kills, respectively Cicero and Marc Anthony, for example), but they are wonderful fictional vehicles to provide an alternate view from the elites as they compete for power and fulfillment. In my view, Vorenus embodies the virtues of the old republic, while Pullo is a pragmatic survivor who is perfect for the new era.

Sure, there are lots of brutally frank depictions of sex that make this unsuitable for anyone under 16 and the violence is equally graphic. But Rome was at that time semi-barbarous in our terms, with few possibilities to improve oneself and quick, violent ends without the possibility of the rule of law or justice. It gets one to think about what one has, at least it did for me.

Recommended with enthusiasm. There are so many wonderful details in this, such as the scene where Marc Anthony urinates in a plant as he is talking to Cicero or Atia covered in the blood of a sacrificed bull or her order to her son: "don't come home until you have penetrated someone" [for the first time]. You will laugh, you will be moved, you will feel wonder at the panorama of history, you will desire to learn more. Great stuff!
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on 13 December 2015
"ROME" is a no holes barred account of life in Rome at the time of Julis Caesar. It can be difficult to follow at first because there are a lot of important characters. In fact I orignally made the mistake of thinking the two most important characters, soldiers Vorenus and Pullo, were expendable, so paid litttle attention to them.

ROME tells its story from a number of perspectives. Each time you rewatch the series you will consider more of these, so it always seems fresh. The glory, if you can call it that, goes to Pullo and Veronus, a commmon loutish legionary and his long suffering officer. Veronus is obsessed with his conservative morality, so his bond to Pullo is one of a soldier's loyalty to a comrade rather than a true friendship.

Equally important to the show is the politics of the Caesarians and their opponents. I felt that this was very well portrayed. Julius the master of both military and politics by force. Mark Anthony the populist soldier's General, Brutus the betrayer and Octavian the unloved master of ruthless political manoeveuvers. The women try and manipulate their men, but only the seductress Cleopatra has any real success.

What makes the show extra special are the details. You can also folow the lives of the minor players, Veronus familly, and slave girl who Pullo is infatuated with. There is an ambitious Greek slave who act as a secretary to the Caesarians. There is a Jewish facillator with no scrupuls a who has a rebellios brother. Octavian's sister is an embarassing party girl, which contrasts nicely with Octavians strict conservative morality and her mother's scheming plans for her.

I liked the mixed attitudes, towards religion and morality. All the politicians were wonderfully duplicitous.

Much is made of the sex and violence in the show. In truth there isn't much of it and its very important to deliver a full understanding of the relationships between the characters. The show is relaxed about nudity, rather than being pornographic. If you want a show about sex and violence, you should watch Spartacus instead.

The second series isn't a good. Veronus and Pullo turned to crime which always felt unnatural to me. I also would have preferred Cleopatra to have been a more subtle seductress, rather than behaving like a common whore. It is a dark and depressing time for all of the character's and that must make it a less enjoyable watch, unless you are a sadist. The second series would have been better if it had had some fresh characters, who profitted from the demise of the established characters.
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on 7 July 2013
A superb very well written, directed and acted miniseries brought about through a collaboration of HBO and BBC. As someone who has interest in Roman history, I was pleasantly surprised to see that in a broad sense, the show stayed faithful to actual events. Some artistic licence is always expected (Atia in real life was supposed to be a very pious woman and not the scheming & manipulative opportunist shown) and the series should not be taken as an accurate representation of history.

The first season is more about drama and politics. The second season is different. It is brutal, violent and (the first half at least) very fast paced. People have liked the first season more but I personally felt that the second season was better and more engaging.

Rome is characterised by the realism shown in terms of how people of the times lived. With plenty of graphic sex and violence and language strong, it is clearly not a sanitised version of history. The sets and costumes are very realistic and give one a feel for how things must have been then. The money and effort spent in making everything look authentic clearly shows.

Moving on to the Blu Ray’s picture quality, it was excellent and a pleasure to watch on HD. The sound was however somewhat muted and you really had to turn up the volume to hear it properly. Barring the opening credits’ music, the music was an absolute treat especially the scores played during the closing credits of each episode. They always reflected the mood of the episode that you had just seen and some of them are masterpieces.

On the whole, an excellent and very realistic series & a must-see for anyone looking to watch a thrilling and engaging serial on ancient Rome.
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on 15 February 2010
Cannot believe I missed this first time around - Excellent.
The photography is spectacular and the acting is superb.
I can't recommend this boxset highly enough.
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on 10 January 2011
This series has everything - great characters, superb acting, wonderful sets. It's just a pity the BBC couldn't sustain the co-funding for more than these two wonderful series (hence time passes more quickly in series two). The series does a great job of painting a picture of Roman life lived by Roman values - values often opposed and in stark contrast to the Judo-Christian ideas most in the West live by today. Hence their attitudes to life, death and sex are completely different. These are alien people in a sense, who lived by a religion (we call myth) that was as alive as Hinduism and Judaism (who were also contemporary). I loved the parallels with India (the way women dress, the idols, the markets and bright colours). I went there in the past and never really considered Rome could have been like those bustling streets in temple towns (particularly in the south). However, this series really helps you see the Romans from a new perspective. That really is some achievement.
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on 21 January 2015
An excellent series. Raunchy and lots of nudity and rumpy-pumpy so not for the shy or easily shocked. This is a truly international product with a distinct Italian flavour in the cast, locations and acting and the behind the scenes support is impressively Italian.The series grips from the beginning and you get it in digestible chunks too. Most of the cast fit comfortably into their roles and the historical context in which they are placed and the sets and costumes are impeccably researched and reflected in the quality of the production. I enjoyed the slightly different aspects emphasised by the different directors throughout the series[ see if you can spot them!] and the unfolding of the story was taken at a measured pace in the script for me to get my head around the principal characters and their motivations. Good transitions as characters get older and the entrances and exits are well integrated. Very disappointed with the Egyptian episodes and didn't like the selection of the actress to play Cleopatra at all. All in all a cracking set of dvds well worth the outlay
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on 7 October 2007
Rome recounts the events surrounding the time of Julius Caesar's ascendency as emperor of the Roman Empire. This is not a retelling of historic events, but a look at the seedy underbelly that the historians missed. This, my friends, is unmissable drama. Both seasons of Rome will leave you wanting more. The story of Pullo and Vorenus is the highlight of this show, and the surrounding characters a brilliantly brought to life by a talented cast.

Simply fantastic.
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