Watch The Fall of the Roman Empire
- 3 hr 8 min
The Fall of the Roman Empire is an epic historical drama film released in 1964, directed by Anthony Mann and starring Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, and Alec Guinness. It is based on the events that led to the fall of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD. The film is set during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a philosopher-ruler who is well-known for his military campaigns and ethical approach to governance.
The movie opens with Marcus Aurelius (Guinness) leading the Roman Army against the Germanic tribes on the Danube frontier. He has achieved almost total victory and believes it is time to retire from military life to dedicate himself to philosophy and leave his Empire in the capable hands of his chosen successor, General Livius (Boyd). However, when Marcus Aurelius is poisoned by his own son Commodus (Christopher Plummer), his plans for the Empire are thrown into chaos.
Commodus, who is more interested in the pleasures of the palace than in the affairs of the state, takes over as Emperor and signals the beginning of the end for the Roman Empire. He engages in a profligate lifestyle and neglects the Empire's borders and resources, while also plotting to have Livius executed. With the leadership of Rome in disarray, barbarian tribes begin to encroach on Roman territory, and the Empire starts to crumble from within.
Meanwhile, Livius falls in love with Lucilla (Loren), the daughter of Marcus Aurelius and a widow of his nephew. However, their relationship is complicated by the political turmoil and Commodus' increasing paranoia. The movie portrays the relationship between Livius and Lucilla as a symbol of hope in the face of the decline of the Roman Empire.
As the barbarian tribes, led by the Goths, march towards Rome, a desperate Livius rallies the remaining Roman legions to stop them. The climactic battle scenes are some of the most impressive and biggest of their time, with thousands of extras engaged in massive and bloody battles. The final sequence takes place in the yet-to-be-completed Colosseum, where Commodus and Livius engage in an epic duel.
One of the main themes of the movie is the conflict between the old Roman virtues of duty, honor, and sacrifice, and the decadence and corruption of Commodus' reign. It also explores the moral crisis faced by Livius as he struggles with his loyalty as a soldier to Rome and his love for Lucilla. Another theme is the way of life and culture of the barbarian tribes and how they interact with Rome.
The Fall of the Roman Empire features an impressive ensemble cast that includes many celebrated actors, including Omar Sharif as the Arab Sheik, James Mason as the philosopher, Mel Ferrer as the historian, and Anthony Quayle as the Roman senator. Sophia Loren delivers a powerful performance as Lucilla, a woman of strength and courage in a male-dominated world. She brings grace, beauty, and intelligence to her character, which gives a compelling portrayal of a woman living in perilous times.
The film's attention to detail is also worth noting, with immaculately crafted and researched costumes and sets that help to transport the audience back to ancient Rome. The stunning locations, such as Spain's Guadix desert and the hilltop fortresses of Jaen, help to create a sense of scale and scope that contributes to the epic feel of the film.
In summary, The Fall of the Roman Empire is an ambitious and sprawling epic, filled with political and social commentary, exciting action sequences, and sprawling sets that make it still an impressive piece of entertainment. The film's examination of the decline of the Roman Empire and the moral struggles of its characters still resonates, making it a powerful viewing experience almost 60 years after its initial release.
The Fall of the Roman Empire is a 1964 drama with a runtime of 3 hours and 8 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7.