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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
1) Unlike many prior feature films and TV series, this does not take Julius Caesar's power as given. Pharsalus, the battle which guaranteed his power, is not a footnote but a crucial historical moment which is given its proper dues here. So are many other details.
2) The deviousness and machinations which were so much a part of Republican-Imperial Rome are left intact. Although it cannot compare with "I Claudius", the series certainly does an excellent job getting close.
3) The sexual scenes and violence are not overdone. Anyone who is aware of the frescoes at Pompeii will know that sex and sexuality were important features of Roman culture. If it strikes you as a "soft porn extravaganza" (Philip Shepherd's comment) then remember that Rome was, at many times, a hard porn extravaganza. See the Penthouse film 'Caligula' and the novels of Mary Renault for other attempts at making us come out of our Victorian shell - long overdue in my opinion.
4) The acting is superb. Absolutely first class. See it for yourself.
5) Much research has clearly gone into the finer details. Notice that the ancient hairstyles are copied. The clothing also appears authentic (no off-the-rack yuppie ripoffs here). Ancient military, surgical, and cosmetic products have also been replicated well.
6) The film corrects many of our misconceptions. Though we may recall, with fondness, the fine nobility of Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra' this film provides a much-needed revision of these characters' identities. Antony is a thuggish brute and Cleopatra a coquettish nymphomaniac.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 ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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