Friday, November 07, 2008

I know what I want for Christmas

This:


I love sandal epics, but this one is in a class by itself, and I can't wait to see what it looks like remastered. This is what grand Hollywood movie making was all about: the crowd scenes, the palaces, the costumes, the HAIR! Everything is so lavish and spectacular, especially the masterpiece scene in the middle - the burning of Rome. In my mind, I can replay in real time the scene of Marcus Vinicius racing toward Rome in his chariot, while the sky in the distance glows red in a darkening night.

It's not just the visuals, though - the writing and the actors are terrific, too. Peter Ustinov is really good as Nero - neither a grotesque maniac or a fat buffoon, he plays him with style as an artist wannabe. And Leo Genn as Petronius steals the whole movie - clever, suave, ironic, balancing on a knife's edge and always one quip away from falling and losing his head. These two have some of the movie's best scenes together. I especially liked when Petronius's enemies falsely accuse him of being a secret Christian, and Nero sort of goggles at him and drops his voice to ask "Petronius...are you a Christian?" with a sort of hushed alarm, as if he were afraid to hear about this monstrous new debauchery. And after all of Nero's dreadful poems, there comes the scene when he's singing to the lyre as Rome burns, and for just a moment, he actually sounds...good.

3 Comments:

Blogger Marc said...

I didn't know about this new edition. I'd like to get the "Ben Hur" - w/ the silent film included. Years before the film, "Ben Hur": the chariot race was produced on stage with real horses running on a tread mill and moving scenery. I tired to read "Quo Vadis" once but couldn't get into it. My kids are growing up with Ben Hur.
Knock Knock
Who's there?
Ben Hur
Ben Hur who?
Ben Hur and hour waitin fur ya

1:01 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

I could never get through 'Quo Vadis' the book either. There were several silent versions of the film; they say the 1912 Italian version was really spectacular, but I'd like to see the 1926 version, because I'm familiar with some of the actors - Emil Jannings played Nero. In fact, I have an 8mm trailer for that film - it must have been to advertise it for people who collected 8mm versions of films and showed them at home. Looks big and expensive to me, but people say it doesn't compare with the earlier version.

2:27 pm  
Blogger muerk said...

I love the book!! The movie is good, but the book is fantastic.

11:57 pm  

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