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The Fall Of The Roman Empire [DVD] (1964)

4.1 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guiness, Omar Sharif, James Mason
  • Directors: Anthony Mann
  • Format: PAL, Widescreen, Dolby, Digital Sound, Colour
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: UNIVERSAL
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Aug. 2004
  • Run Time: 172 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002DXFIO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,710 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Anthony Mann directs a star-studded cast in this Hollywood epic re-telling the last days of the Roman Empire. Emperor Aurelius is poisoned by his son Commodus who succeeds him, only to bring the once mighty Empire to its knees through pestilence and war with the Barbarians. The set of the forum is said to be the largest ever built for a film, and Dimitri Tiomkin was nominated for an Oscar for his score.

From Amazon.co.uk

The second and last of Anthony Mann's historical epics is a smart, handsome spectacle of the decadence, corruption and intrigue that tore apart the Roman empire. The sprawling story spreads itself thin over a number of characters and stories. At the centre are handsome but stiff Stephen Boyd as Livius, the loyal soldier and symbolic son of the ageing emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness), and Christopher Plummer as Commodus, the corrupt heir to the throne. They are boyhood friends turned enemies when the latter accedes to the throne and sells out the values of his father for greed and hedonistic pleasures. The three-hour running time is filled out with the tales of Sophia Loren (as the beautiful Lucilla in love with Livius but coveted by greedy Commodus) and a gallery of heroes and villains that includes James Mason, Mel Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, John Ireland, Omar Sharif and Eric Porter. The film is highlighted with spectacular scenes--a grandiose funeral fit for an emperor, brutal battles in the provinces as the barbarians threaten the empire, and a climactic duel to decide the destiny of Rome--which Mann weaves into the shadowy intrigue of the halls of power. Like his previous epic El Cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire remains one of the best of the 1960s epics: well written with strong performances and a consistently elegant style, but lacking the central core and magnetic hero of its superior predecessor. Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000) tackles almost the same story with a more crowd-pleasing action-adventure slant. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Both the new FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE Blu-ray from Anchor Bay and the previous Koch version from Germany use the Weintraub/Miriam Collection restoration elements. The Koch Germany release is complete, while the new Anchor Bay drops the roadshow overture, intermission and exit music (as well as a commentary track in the special features). The mastering of the UK release (as with EL CID) is again warmer (richer reds); the Koch version gives the Roman cloaks an orange hue and the film a more golden aura (perhaps a minor question of accuracy). The missing portions on the UK version should disqualify it for purists, but this general-release cut is still a major improvement over the dvd version. Both are satisfying presentations with some compromises. The elements for FALL appear in better shape than those for EL CID, but still display softness in some scenes. Filtering has definitely been done to both blu-rays. The DTS-HD soundtracks on the Anchor Bay and Koch sound identical. FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE still deserves to be rediscovered in high-definition, inspite of marginal mastering flaws of less-than-stellar restorations; and the bigger the screen, the more pleasurable the experience.
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By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 22 Mar. 2006
Format: DVD
The Fall of the Roman Empire is mainly remembered, if at all, for two things - being one of the biggest flops in history and for being the film that was shamelessly plagiarized by the much inferior Gladiator. Which is a great pity, because not only does the film have much to recommend it but also in many ways it's the summit of director Anthony Mann's filmmaking, putting everything he ever learned to perfect use to create a magnificently realised portrait of a very different screen Rome. Whereas mad emperors are the staple of the genre, he dispenses with the standard image of Rome as a force of evil to be resisted and replaces it with a Rome that is an idea and an ideal to be fought for: there is no triumph when this empire begins to destroy itself, only disgust at a missed opportunity for true greatness. In many ways, like El Cid, it's an extension of Mann's favorite Western theme of a corrupted man dragged to his own redemption against his wishes, kicking and screaming all the way - only this time, redemption is steadfastly resisted.

In many ways it reworks elements of El Cid - rival siblings bickering over the throne, the assassination of a ruler, even the final fight owes much to the duel for Calahorra. But unlike the Cid, Stephen Boyd's Livius is unable to truly inspire (his own army is bought off at the gates of Rome) and he leaves the Empire to its decline in chaos out of disgust: the complete antithesis of Mann's great description of the appeal of the enduring appeal of the Western - "a man says he's going to do something, and he does it." Here, the hero walks away and the audience stayed at home in droves.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
[ASIN:B004OWWZ1C The Fall Of The Roman Empire [Blu-ray]]]

Buyers of this new long awaited UK release need to be aware that both the commentary from the US DVD and the Overture/Intermission are missing. Very strange as all the other extras are included. Still an essential purchase as it's great to have it in Hi-Def but certainly NOT the definitive version. The sound is great but the image varies and is a little soft at times.
Don't get rid of your standard DVD just yet.
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Format: Blu-ray
This is a lovely release from Anchor Bay - the extras are particularly good, albeit in standard definition, and provide a good 2 1/2 hours of extremely interesting insights into the making of this great epic.

A couple of moans though. The Overture, Intermission and Exit Music have been edited out, removing about 7 minutes of running time.

Plus, for those who have been singing the joys of the 2.35:1 ratio as opposed to the admittedly terrible 1.78 ratio of the vastly inferior DVD release, bear in mind that this, as well as El Cid', were actually shot in Ultra Panavision, and correctly, should be in a 2.75:1 ratio. You can see signs of cropping throughout the entire movie, and it's especially noticeable in the opening credits to both films.

Don't get me wrong, the 2.35 ratio is a great improvement, and the blu-ray is a really lovely print, but this is a common occurrence with movies from the 50s and 60s which are cropped down from Cinemascope, Cinerama, Todd-AO and Ultra Panavision to the 2.35 ratio. Not many distributors will present those original 2.55 or greater ratios as they were originally intended - a couple of exceptions are Ben Hur and Battle of the Bulge, both from Warners noticebaly, which retain the 2.75 ratio.

Perhaps there is some concern that the greater the ratio, the thicker the tram lines on the screen to provide the width?

Personally, I want to see these kinds of movies in ALL of their glory, but I guess I'll have to put up with 2.35 for now.....
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is a very disappointing release. The picture is much better than the DVD but the subtitles that existed there have NOT been ported across. It is hard to understand why and for the hearing impaired this release is useless. I found the voices not that well focussed and as a consequence it was hard work trying to follow the dialogue. Such a sloppy attitude to such an important matter is hard to understand in this day and age. The disc is also B locked if that matters. Stick to the 2 disc DVD set if you like subtitles. It has more than adequate picture and sound.
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