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Rome: The Complete HBO Season 1 (6 Disc Box Set) [DVD] 
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Rome: The Complete HBO Season 1 (6 Disc Box Set)
Family dysfunction. Treachery. Betrayal. Coarse profanity. Brutal violence. Graphic (and sometimes brutal) sex. No, it's not The Sopranos, it's Rome, HBO's madly ambitious series that bloodily splatters the glory of Rome just as savagely as Monty Python and the Holy Grail soiled the good name of Camelot (but with far fewer laughs; very few funny things happen on the way to this forum). Set in 52 B.C. (Before Cable), Rome charts the dramatic shifts in the balance of power between former friends Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham), leader of the Senate, and Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds), whose imminent return after eight years to Rome after conquering the Gauls, has the ruling class up in arms. At the heart of Rome is the odd couple friendship between two soldiers who fortuitously become heroes of the people. Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) is married, honorable, and steadfast. Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) is an amoral rogue whose philosophy is best summed up, "I kill my enemies, take their gold, and enjoy their women". Among Rome's most compelling subplots is Lucius's strained relationship with his wife, Niobe (Indira Varma), who is surprised to see her husband alive (but not as surprised as he is to find her upon his homecoming with a newborn baby in her arms!) Any viewer befuddlement over Rome's intrigues and machinations, and determining who is hero and who is foe, disappears the minute Golden Globe-nominee Polly Walker appears as Atia, Caesar's formidable niece and a villainess for the ages. In the first hour alone, she offers her already married daughter as a bride to the recently widowed Pompey. One eagerly awaits to see what (or who) she'll do next as much as we anticipate her comeuppance in the final episode.
Rome is a painstakingly mounted production that earned eight well-deserved Emmy nominations in such categories as costumes, set design, and art direction. Michael Apted (Coal Miner's Daughter) was honored with a Director's Guild Award for the first episode, "The Stolen Eagle." But artistic considerations aside, instantly addicted viewers will agree with Atia, who notes at one point, "I adore the secrecy, the intrigue. It's most thrilling." --Donald LiebensonSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
There are many reasons to like this. There is a strong British cast who work with a good script (say one thing but MEAN another), plots and sub-plots to make this hugely watchable. Unlike say Troy or Alexander, this is about the people and not the epic battles, which are often portrayed in a few blurry scenes but not detracting from the story as a whole. The action is on a smaller scale but no less bloody - you have been warned.
The title says it all in this production. Whereas Julius Caesar is the "main man" (eventually), this series is about Rome from top to bottom, and we are shown the stories of the senators and the slaves, generals and infantry. An ambitious undertaking but one that works very well. BBC quality with HBO backing is a good partnership that will hopefully bear more fruit for us to enjoy.
Ciaran Hinds shines as Caesar, brim-full of decorum and sleaze, more cunning than a fox who studied advanced cunning at night school - he keeps his friends close and enemies closer. With the charming but ruthless Mark Anthony at his side he generally gets his way, though he is not without mercy, and is genuinely distraught at the death of his adversary and one-time friend Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham - Harvey Moon). The machinations at the top are only part of the story with the warring ladies of the "noble" families pulling strings, swapping sides and using their charms to fight for influence and often survival.Read more ›
Programmes like this need to be supported, otherwise we shall be doomed to soaps, game shows and reality television. For £25 you really can't go wrong.
As far as the gratuitous violence, I have to disagree. I have become fed up of films and programmes claiming to be historically accurate that portray nothing of the horror and brutality of war and bloodshed. Finally we have a series that without too much Tarrantino-esqe gratuity, but which shows war as it really was. Horrifying. I was stunned the first time I saw someone's knee hacked through with a backwards blow from a gladius but then realised that this is real war in a military society - eye to eye and do whatever it takes to take the other man down. Maybe some contemporary world leaders could learn a thing or two about what declaring war actually means for the legionaries involved.
As far as the story goes, I agree that artistic licence was taken at points - Cleopatra's portrayal was surprising but there's little to suggest it couldn't be true, as much as to say it's ridiculous. I also take issue with the notion she was portrayed as "weak" and snivelling. She is a shrewd and ruthless woman prepared to take whatever steps necessary, just like many of the strong female characters in this series. I have a feeling this will come out properly in season 2.Read more ›
In any case, there's much more here than a history lesson or a biography of Caesar. There are multiple, interwoven storylines, based on tensions between different (groups of) characters, and it's not just the military men who drive the action: the conflict between Attia of the Julii (Caesar's niece) and Servilia of the Junii (Brutus's mother) is like subtle, bitter warfare and drives much of the rest of the plot.
Another central strand involves the comradeship and sometime friendship between two lowly soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo. These two characters and their adventures (both military and domestic) provide some relief from the doings of all the senators and Patricians. Vorenus and Pullo bring a human (and often comic) scale to the proceedings.
The writing/storytelling is superb. Time after time, I enjoyed a particular line--often I was waiting for it, having remembered it from the BBC presentation. The acting is (mostly) hard to fault, as is the evocation of ancient Rome through the sets, costumes and rituals. One thing I will mention is that I preferred the pace of the BBC's opening episodes, which were apparently cut down from three episodes, much to director Michael Apted's dismay. The original cut (which is what's on these DVDs) has more political exposition. The BBC cut was faster-paced.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this for Christmas and the first CD keeps jumping on episode 2. Says I can't return it. Now a waste of money as have only watched 1episodePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
"But if you were going to betray me, you would have done it long ago." -Caesar to Mark Anthony
Four EPIC Stars. Read more
A jolly romp of blood , sex and sculduggery , in good old rome .
Did I mention plenty of nudity , ham acting and history interpreted
as truth , for the purpose of... Read more