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Customer Review

45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and lavish drama...but for adults only, 10 April 2006
This review is from: Rome: The Complete HBO Season 1 (6 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
The sort of ambitious historical drama that doesn't seem to get commissioned anymore ...err except on this occasion it has and as one of the characters in "Rome" might say "Thank the Gods for that". American network HBO who have a track record of producing quality adult TV( They are the network responsible for the brilliant "Curb Your Enthusiasm") bravely made this hugely expensive series but the care , attention to detail and yes the coin thrown at it radiates from every scene.
It starts in 52 B.C. after Gaius Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds) has completed his 8 year war in Gaul and is returning home .He brings with him huge amounts of loot and slaves plus thousands of battle hardened but loyal veterans. The Roman Senate terrified of Caesars burgeoning popularity vote to try him for war crimes as soon as he sets foot back in Rome while his old friend Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham) ferments rebellion to try and maintain order with the typical muddle headed thinking of a politician. Two disparately different characters from Caesars army Lucius Vorenus ( Kevin Mckidd) an ultra professional ,contained prosaic character and Titus Pullo ( Ray Stevenson ) a gregarious larger than life but ill disciplined soldier are ordered to retrieve the army's stolen gold standard which they do, but they also endeavour to liberate Gaius Octavian (Max Pirkis) Caesars nephew from bandits. So they are feted by Roman high society including Octavians scheming mother Atia (Polly Walker) and Caesars new Peoples tribune Mark Antony (James Purefoy). So as the two soldiers attempt to re-adjust to civilian life, Vorenus with his family who barely recognise him and have a potentially explosive secret of their own, and Pullo to the brothels , civil war breaks out which will take Caesar and Pompey to Egypt and eventually lead to internecine conflict between families and a new order for Rome.
There is so much machiavellian plotting and political chicanery in Rome it would make a Government minister blush .What probably wouldn't make them blush are the explicit sex scene s. If this drama is anything to go on, and it was exhaustatively researched, the Romans were extraordinarily liberal when it came to sex and the language is pretty robust as well. Good for them say I. What wasn't good for them were the appallingly violent times they lived in and this is another facet of this drama that may deter the faint of heart. Some of the violent scenes could have been lifted from some horror splatter-fest but they are undeniably realistic.
While at times it lingers too long on banal talking head conversations and middle distance philosophising Rome very rarely drags. It looks amazing and the acting is first class with Hinds Caesar conveying palpable authority, while Polly Walkers Atia is a waspish vamp of mind boggling proportions. She would have a footballer's wife on toast. I also thought Max Pirkis, s Octavian a fascinating cerebral character, and a welcome antidote to Pullos and Vorenus more macho robust attributes. With notable supporting roles for Lorcan Cranitch as a rapacious money lender and ex "Coronation Street" villain Lee Boardman as one of Atias henchmen Rome tells a much told tale with acumen and no little flair. And tantalisingly there is so much more of this fascinating story still to be acquainted with. Rome is most definitely worth re-visiting.
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