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Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

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Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:22 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/swords-and-sandals-a-bid-for-boxoffice-glory-1913010.html

Swords and sandals: A bid for box-office glory

The Romans (and Greeks) are coming! Classical myths, legends and almost-true stories are about to invade a cinema near you

By Andrew Johnson

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Set in Britain in the year AD140, 'The Eagle of the Ninth' is released in September

They came, they saw, and – in a bid for box-office glory – ransacked the props room for swords and sandals. A phalanx of films based on the myths and history of ancient Greece and Rome – from the killing of the snake-haired Medusa to the doomed love of Antony and Cleopatra – is about to hit cinema screens thanks to the runaway success of the bloodthirsty Spartans film, 300, which saw audiences stump up nearly £300m in 2007 to see a retelling of the story of the battle of Thermopylae. Since then, producers have plundered the classical world for stories of heroes, gods and monsters.

The true story of the Roman general Mark Antony and Egypt's Queen Cleopatra is to be retold in a 1920s setting; Ben Hur, the 1959 epic famous for its chariot race, is to be a mini series; and Jason and his Argonauts are off to find the Golden Fleece again nearly 50 years after the myth became a special-effects extravaganza. Also coming soon are Centurion and Eagle of the Ninth, both about Roman soldiers dealing with drizzle, mist and rebellious Celts in ancient Britain.

Warring gods come to blows in a remake of 1981's Clash of the Titans as well as in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, in which Hades, Poseidon and Zeus fight it out over modern-day New York. So far it has made £83m.

Dr Carl Buckland, who lectures on the influence of the classical world on contemporary culture at the University of Nottingham, said modern audiences are little different to their ancient ancestors in their attitudes. "The real influence in the last few years has been 300," he said. Its innovative retelling of the famous battle in 480BC – when 300 Spartan held their ground against hundreds of thousands of Persian invaders – was based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller. It blended live action and cartoon-style visuals and made £260m profit.

Dr Buckland explained the appeal saying: "Part of it is that we like to think it was a better, more simple, world of white marble and columns. It wasn't of course. It was dirty and smelly just like today. They are not only great stories, however. The ancient Greeks were very good at showing the East as a bad thing. The hardy Greeks and Romans looked on the East as a place where too much luxury had corrupted the people. That kind of attitude – that the West is good and the East is corrupt, is still in society today. You could say we have not changed much in 3,000 years."

Films from the classical world...

The Eagle of the Ninth

In Britain, this time in AD140, but with the Ninth Legion again as a young soldier attempts to find its lost emblem. Released in September.

Clash of the Titans

Remake of 1981 classic. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes battle gods in a tale based on the myth of Perseus and the Medusa. March release.

The Resurrection of Christ

Cashing in on the success of Mel Gibson's 2004 The Passion of the Christ, but with added "Gladiator dimension" and first-century political intrigue. Starts shooting in July.

Ben Hur

Ray Winstone stars as the Roman general Quintus Arrius and Joseph Morgan plays the chariot-racing champ Judah Ben Hur in a television remake of the 1959 classic story set in the early days of Christianity. To be screened later this year.

The Argonauts

Jason is off to find the Golden Fleece once again in this remake of the 1963 classic, left, – noted for its special effects by Ray Harryhausen – scheduled for release next year, exactly a century after the first Argonauts film.

Cleo

Ray Winstone (again) in Steven Soderbergh's 1920s musical version of Antony and Cleopatra's story. Elizabeth Taylor starred in the 1963 original.

Hercules: The Thracian Wars

The son of Zeus is to be given the 300 treatment in this film based on the bloodthirsty US comic book in which Hercules loses his family and finds solace in battle. The film is being developed by Universal Pictures to be released next year.

Coriolanus

The film of Shakespeare's play about a banished hero avenging himself on Rome will be directed by Ralph Fiennes and is about to start shooting.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Greek gods make mischief in modern-day New York as they race to find Zeus's missing bolt of lightning. In cinemas now.

Dawn of War

This time it's the story of Theseus which will be given the full cinematographic visual trickery, as the hero of Athens takes on the Minotaur – half-bull, half-man – among other monsters. Starts shooting next month.

Centurion

Dominic West and Michael Fassbender star as Roman soldiers on the march with the legendary Ninth Legion in Britain in AD117. Released in April.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:55 am

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article7059413.ece

From The Times
March 13, 2010
Sword and sandals epics are back
Movie technology and contemporary geopolitics have made the Ancient heroic narratives relevant once more
Andy Whitfield in "Spartacus: Blood and Sand."

Somewhere in the North of Britain, AD117. A rain-sodden band of Roman soldiers from the infamous Ninth Legion bemoan their lot while keeping guard at midnight in a fort. It’s the start of Neil Marshall’s Ancient-era action movie Centurion, and the hero, Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) grumbles, “I know this enemy well. They will not be drawn into open combat. This is a new kind of war!”

Suddenly, the soldiers are snapped to attention by a noise from the darkness outside. It could be the dreaded savages from the local Pict tribes. It could be a Boadicea-style female assassin who is lurking in the shadows. Or it could, given the right timings and locations, be the sound of the cast and crew from another competing Ninth Legion movie, which is gaining ground near by. This one is called Eagle of the Ninth, and stars Jamie Bell, is directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), and is coming soon to a sword’n’sandals-filled cinema near you.

There has never been a better time to make a movie set in the Ancient era. Besides these two high-profile Ninth Legion films, we are also about to witness a big-budget Clash of the Titans remake that features Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and $100 million worth of special effects. We’ve already had the Greek gods and teen heroes in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Mickey Rourke, meanwhile, is starring in Dawn of War, a mortals-versus-gods adventure from the director Tarsem Singh (The Fall). Plus, the TV series Rome is being revamped for the big screen, and the hottest story in US TV right now is the explicit raunch and violence in the Gladiator-inspired series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

So what’s behind this resurgence? And why is it happening now? And what, for that matter, have the Romans ever really done for us? They’ve given us great stories, says Spartacus’s executive producer, Robert Tapert, who sees the renewed interest in all things Ancient as a timely confluence of primal storytelling archetypes and movie-making technology. “What all these stories have in common is a great heroic central figure who sets out on a hero’s journey. But the technology has evolved so far that it can allow a new generation of film-makers to bring these journeys to life in ways that were unthinkable before.”

Basil Iwanyk, producer of Clash of the Titans, agrees, and says that the intention with his film was to “marry old world David Lean-esque film-making with the visual effects seen in modern movies, so that the world is so intense and so specific that audiences can immerse themselves in it.” He also puts the sword’n’sandals resurgence into a historical and commercial context, saying that although the genre died out after the high-water mark of movies such as Ben Hur and Cleopatra, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in 2000 was a game-changer.

“When Gladiator was being made, it was seen as very brave,” Iwanyk says. “The subject had become one of the great Airplane jokes: ‘Do you like gladiator movies?’ But then the movie came out, and it was fantastic. Commercially, it opened up a lot of eyes in the studios. And in the film business, if one type of genre works then it has a knock-on effect.”

Movies such as Troy and Alexander followed. But the former performed less successfully than expected, and the latter was an outright disaster, the makers of both movies having failed to comprehend the secret to Gladiator’s success. The genius of Scott’s movie, Marshall says, was that it had played every single scene “straight down the line, and without a hint of camp”. Marshall, who agrees that it has been something of a “foot race” to get his Ninth Legion movie out before Macdonald’s, says that a lack of camp is essential to the modern-day depiction of the Ancient era.

Even 300, the thong-and-pecs party that bristled with homoerotic tension, never resorted to the ironic wink or the comedy nod. “On our set, of course, there were a lot of Life of Brian gags, and certainly when Dominic West walked on in his full costume someone did say, ‘He wanks as high as any man in Wome!’ But that just helps to get it out of your system, so there’s none of it left in the film itself.”

Iwanyk says that the producers and writers of Clash of the Titans went through their movie “over and over again, making sure there wasn’t anything goofy or that would make people roll their eyes. We didn’t want audiences laughing at our hero, Sam Worthington, who is a man’s man, because he’s wearing a skirt. Or that we’ve got men with beards and braided hair. Or even the fact that we have gods talking. So, yes, camp is a big thing we tried to avoid.”

Even Tapert, who previously worked on the high camp of Xena: Warrior Princess (his wife is the Xena star Lucy Lawless) and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, says that the mood had changed by the time Spartacus came along. “We wanted the characters to play it 100 per cent straight, and to allow the dramatic flourishes — the sex and the violence — to be the things that would provoke the audience. We never wanted to acknowledge to the audience that they are in on a joke, which we did periodically on Xena and Hercules.”

Tapert says that he is aware that the sex and violence in Spartacus — which runs the gamut, respectively, from orgies to on-screen dismemberment — is regarded as controversial. The British pressure group Mediawatch UK is so offended that it is trying to block Spartacus from reaching our TV screens. Tapert dismisses the group, saying that its members are using the show to “fuel their own popularity and promote their own agenda”. He says: “Although we’ve pushed the boundaries of what one would normally see on television, there are ancient plaques from the houses of prostitution in Pompeii that are also pretty explicit.”

And yet, there must be more to the rebirth of the sword’n’sandals era than special effects, heroic storytelling, stiff wrists and sex? Well, yes, and it’s called subtext, says Natalie Haynes, part-time Classical scholar and author of the forthcoming book The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. “The reason that we keep coming back to these stories and characters is partially because they are crisp and clear in dramatic terms,” she says. “But they are also sufficiently sparsely drawn for us to insert our own subtext.”

Such as? Centurion, for instance, depicts an imperial occupying army bogged down in guerrilla warfare in mountainous Scottish terrain not unlike a soggy Afghanistan. “This is a war without honour and a war without end,” muses Quintus Dias.

The parallels with modern warfare are deliberate, Marshall says. “I didn’t want to ram it down the audience’s throat, but the analogy is certainly there. I’m not trying to make a political film, but it’s obvious nonetheless.” Spartacus, too, Tapert says, through its depiction of a lusty Roman upper class, “is consistently and absolutely addressing ideas and social mores, such as homosexuality, that are pertinent to modern society.”

That is surely the key both to the genre’s power and its sudden resurgence in popularity. At a time when mainstream films address the issues of the day only with anodyne drivel such as the action-thriller Green Zone, it is up to the ancients to redress the balance. These tales explore urgent modern ideas about the end of empire, the effects of globalisation and the battle for natural resources that would be regarded as unseemly if delivered in a contemporary setting. It’s as if we can see ourselves clearly only by looking through an allegorical mirror that is 2,000 years old.

Haynes says that we are more like “them” now than we ever were. “At pretty much no point in history between then and now did things look so similar,” she says, referring to parallels in our societies, politics and cultures. “We are drawn to the ancients because they are exactly like us. And there is a temptation to be very grown-up about it, and say, ‘No! Now is now, and then was then'. But really, it’s just too tempting to pin the two together.”

Clash of the Titans is released on April 2
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:31 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/brit-flicks-go-epic-1925949.html

Brit flicks go epic

A fresh slew of sword-and-sandal epics shows that cinema's appetite for a toga or two never seems to fade, says Geoffrey Macnab

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The togas are back! In the coming months there will be several new sword-and-sandal films released in British cinemas. First, Warner Bros will be whisking us back to the world of Zeus, Perseus, Poseidon, Apollo and Medusa with a remake of Clash of the Titans starring Avatar's Sam Worthington. Neil Marshall's Centurion (out later in the spring and starring Dominic West and Michael Fassbender) is about the travails of the Roman Ninth Legion at the hands of the hairy and ferocious Pict warriors. Due for release in the early autumn is Kevin Macdonald's similarly themed Eagle of the Ninth (based on the children's novel by Rosemary Sutcliff). This is about a young Roman centurion's attempts to discover what happened to the Ninth Legion, which went missing 20 years before. Meanwhile, the egregious Tinto Brass is preparing Who Killed Caligula?, which is being billed as "the first erotic comedy in stereoscopic 3D."

There shouldn't be any surprise about the new flurry of epics. This is a form of film-making that is almost as old as cinema itself and has never gone away. The latest upsurge comes only a few years after Ridley Scott's Gladiator, Wolfgang Petersen's Troy, Oliver Stone's Alexander, Zack Snyder's 300 and Doug Lefler's The Last Legion.

There are certain sword-and-sandal stories that have been made into films again and again. Quo Vadis was first brought to the screen in 1902. The earliest Ben-Hur movie was made way back in 1907 by the Kalem Company, who staged the famous chariot race on a New Jersey beach. Available to watch online in a very grainy and jerky print, this is a notable film on several levels. Not only is it one of the first Roman "epics" (albeit only a quarter-of-an-hour long), it also provoked what some claim was the first ever lawsuit over motion picture rights. The film had been made without the permission of either the Ben-Hur author General Lew Wallace or of the Broadway impresarios Mark Klaw and Abraham Erlanger, who had brought Wallace to the stage. Kalem lost the case for copyright violation and were ordered to pay $25,000 in damages.

Even 100 years ago, the attraction of the toga movie was self-evident. Over the last century, toga films have offered spectacle, political and religious allegory, action, eroticism, humour and a way to show off new widescreen technology. B-movie directors and revered, big-name directors alike have experimented with the form.

Not surprisingly, the Italians were the first to bring Roman history to the screen in truly epic fashion. Enrico Guazzoni's version of Quo Vadis (1912), Mario Caserini's The Last Days of Pompeii (1913) and Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria (1914) set the benchmark. These were films on a grandiose scale with elaborate production design and huge armies of extras. They offered volcanic explosions and burning cities, lions and tortured Christians. These films were the Avatars of their day, drawing huge audiences. They had an immense influence on D W Griffith, the pioneering American director of The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916). There was also a strong strain of nationalism running through them – a celebration of Roman imperialism and military might.

"The association of the historical costume film with Italian nationalism is very suggestive," writes the historian Steven Ricci in Cinema and Fascism: Italian film and society, 1922-1943. "The political rhetoric of expansionism, which called for the aggressive establishment of new colonial empires, was represented as nothing less than the enactment of a manifest destiny inaugurated by the "Italian" experience of the Roman Empire."

In post-fascist Italy, the toga movie had a very different resonance. Alessandro Blasetti's Fabiola (1948), about the illicit love affair between a senator's daughter and a Christian gladiator, was regarded by Italian audiences as an allegory about the Second World War. Just as the Christians were persecuted by the Romans, so were those in the Italian resistance.

Initially, at least, toga-and-tunic movies were all about scale and spectacle. That was what MGM tried to provide with its big-budget version of Ben-Hur (1925), a wildly extravagant affair initially shot in Rome. The project was behind schedule, way over budget and turning into a fiasco when the studio bosses called the cast and crew back to Hollywood.

The historian Kevin Brownlow has described it as a "sort of Dunkirk of the cinema; a humiliating defeat transformed, after heavy losses, into a brilliant victory." In spite of its chaotic beginnings, it became a runaway box-office success. The chariot race was shot with over 40 cameras and provided the example by which big action set-pieces would be measured for many years afterwards.

In the 1950s, when Hollywood was trying to lure viewers away from their TV sets and back into the cinemas, toga movies were prime bait. The Robe (1953), shot in CinemaScope, and the remake of Quo Vadis (1951) were on a similar scale to the Italian silent-era epics that inspired them. The biblical themes were dealt with in earnest and sermonising fashion, but both were on a monumental scale and threw in plenty of swordfighting in among the preaching.

The action has never been the problem in the sword-and-sandal/togagenre. Where the form has often creaked is in the characterisation; and in the costumes, especially when the actors' knees have been exposed. From Richard Burton to Colin Farrell, intense, testosterone-driven stars have looked very silly indeed when they have been whisked back to classical antiquity. As his biographer Melvyn Bragg noted, Burton was especially unfortunate in Alexander the Great; fitting the mercurial Welshman with a blond cowpat wig was a definite mistake. "Burton, blandly blond and in a lady's tennis tunic fashionable at Wimbledon in the Thirties, looked on helplessly as an unstoppable rush of clichés fled from his lips."

There was an element of kitsch and self-parody in the sword-and-sandal films starring bodybuilder-turned- actor Steve Reeves, who became a very big star in the late 1950s. Italian films like Hercules and Hercules Unchained weren't taken altogether seriously by critics, especially when dubbed into English.

Fantasy adventures that featured Gorgons and dancing skeletons designed by special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen were likewise taken at least partially tongue in cheek by producers and audiences alike.

The problem came when the toga film began to take itself too seriously. Robert Wise's version of Helen of Troy (1956) was called by critics a "monumental epic of dullness". Too many supporting characters in false beards and wigs and too much pomp and ceremony undermined a story that needed to be told with far more humour.

Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960) was a rare example of a Hollywood sword-and-sandal saga from this era that successfully combined the epic and the intimate. It wasn't weighed down by the woolly religious moralising found in Quo Vadis and The Robe. Kirk Douglas brought such intensity to his role as the slave-turned-gladiator that audiences were never distracted by the short-cut costumes and the actors' knobbly knees.

Censorship rules and Hollywood prudery have stopped most toga movies from exploring the decadence of ancient Rome. That certainly wasn't a problem with Tinto Brass's notorious version of Caligula (1979). Some very big-name actors (Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, John Gielgud and Peter O'Toole) joined the project on the basis of the Gore Vidal screenplay. Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione then hijacked the production, turning it into pornography. Even today, McDowell defends aspects of the project, calling it "a very authentic look at ancient Rome of Caligula's particular period." The debauchery wasn't just Guccione's invention. McDowell plays Caligula as an anarchist rather than a madman. The film boasts inventive production and costume design from Fellini collaborators. However, thanks to Guccione's tinkering, it was transformed into a garish exploitation pic.

In the CGI era, sword-and-sandal movies are more affordable than in the days of The Robe and Quo Vadis. Alongside the big effects-driven films like the new Clash of the Titans, there are now films from independent producers that are pushing the genre in new directions. Advance word suggests that Neil Marshall's Centurion and Macdonald's Eagle of the Ninth have a brutality and muddy realism that you wouldn't find in the sword-and-sandal epics of yesteryear. Gone for good, it seems, are the days when actors in togas looked like Home Counties tennis players.

'Clash of the Titans' is released on 2 April

Sandals of time: Five top turns in togas

1. Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo

"Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me..." Williams's Julius Caesar is preposterous, but no more so than many actors who've donned the toga in films that were ostensibly serious.

2. Victor Mature in The Robe

Rugged and saturnine, Victor Mature had the physical stature to wear a toga without ever quite looking like a man in a mini-skirt.

3. Ramon Novarro in Ben-Hur (1925)

Novarro brought a febrile and edgy quality to the role of 'Ben-Hur'.

4. Peter Ustinov in Quo Vadis (1951)

Ustinov made a very porcine Nero and seemed to derive real pleasure from feeding the Christians to the lions.

5. Peter O'Toole in Caligula (1979)

This is O'Toole at his most manic and deranged. Watching his Tiberius, you get a sense of how he must have been on stage as 'Macbeth'.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:26 pm

http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2010-04-06-mythmash06_VA_N.htm

The future holds more myth-based tales of the past

By Susan Wloszczyna and Maria Puente, USA TODAY
If gods, monsters and he-men in short skirts get your pulse racing, prepare for an Olympian-size rush of mythological action at the multiplex. USA TODAY highlights some of the legendary titles — from lore-inspired sorcery to gore-filled spectacles — that will be released this year and beyond.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (May 28)

Based on the popular video game. Buff of body and long of locks, Jake Gyllenhaal makes like a latter-day Douglas Fairbanks as an urchin-turned-prince who must use a magic dagger to stop Ben Kingsley's evil nobleman from messing with the Sands of Time. Says producer Jerry Bruckheimer of this Arabian Nights-influenced adventure: "It's a big action picture with romance and a mystical, magical feel to it. Women love it as much as guys."

MYTHICAL TREND: Moviegoers seek escapism, 3-D

The Last Airbender (July 2)

M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) dips into a new genre with this live-action fantasy based on Nickelodeon's animated TV series and infused with Asian myth. War breaks out after the Avatar, who uses martial arts to control all four of the world's elements (air, wind, earth and fire), vanishes. Aang, a 12-year-old Airbender (newcomer Noah Ringer), and his friends must battle an evil Firebender (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) and restore harmony. The director was drawn to the story because it teaches "great values for kids and families," says Shyamalan's longtime producer, Sam Mercer. "It's about how we all need to use our strength and powers for good and as a way to resolve issues, not just for threatening.'

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (July 16)

Nicolas Cage's warped magician from medieval times recruits hapless Jay Baruchel as a trainee when a rival wizard threatens modern-day Manhattan. Both Mickey Mouse's segment in 1940's animatedFantasiaa nd this live-action spinoff are inspired by Goethe's poem Der Zauberlehrling, which itself was based on a Greek short story circa 150 A.D. Once again, hocus-pocus and tidying up don't mix. "The young sorcerer uses his new ability to clean his apartment before some young ladies come over," says producer Bruckheimer. "He turns the mops loose, and things" — including vacuums and Dustbusters — "go crazy."

Valhalla Rising (July 23)

This savagely violent import from Denmark centers on the mute One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen), an aptly named Viking whose fearlessness is matched only by his supernatural strength. Escaping enslavement, he sails off with a band of Christian warriors in search of the Holy Land. Instead, he finds himself lost in unknown and danger-ridden territory. Director Nicolas Winding Refn has said he was inspired by his love of sci-fi, spaghetti Westerns and samurai movies, "genres where the lead character is a hero of mythical proportions ... a silent warrior who stands alone."

Centurion (Aug. 27)

This graphic British epic unfolds during the second-century invasion of Scotland as Pict tribesmen clash with Roman warriors. When a centurion (Michael Fassbender) and his soldiers stage a rescue of a captive general (Dominic West) from a Pict camp, they are relentlessly hunted by a group of natives led by a female tracker (Bond girl Olga Kurylenko). As Tom Quinn of Magnolia Pictures, whose genre arm — Magnet — is the U.S. distributor, has said, "If history is written in blood, then Centurion is hard-core history — bloody and brutal."


The Eagle of the Ninth (Sept. 24)

The emotionally sensitive alternative to Centurion is directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and based on a 1954 novel. A young centurion (Channing Tatum) ventures to Roman-ruled Britain to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of his father's legion 20 years earlier. "The characters experience what happens when myth and reality intersect," says James Schamus, head of Focus Features. "For us, that was a great attraction and really distinguishes Kevin's film from what else is out there."

Conan (Summer 2011)

Robert E. Howard's barbarian lives again in a new R-rated adventure that will be transferred into 3-D. The 6-foot-5 Hawaiian-born Jason Momoa (TV's Baywatch) follows in Arnold Schwarzenegger's muscular footsteps as the stoic Cimmerian who delivers payback for the murder of his father (Ron Perlman) and destruction of his village. "It's a simple story of revenge and love," says producer Avi Lerner, whose company also is doing a Red Sonja update and is eyeing a new Hercules. "Jason and Arnold are similar in that they are both very likable. The character is not always a nice person, yet the audience can forgive him for what he does."

Thor (May 6, 2011)

This is a Marvel comic-book version of Norse lore as the hammer-wielding mighty Thor (Australian actor Chris Hemsworth) is banished to Earth by father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) after causing an ancient conflict to re-ignite on Asgard, home of the Viking gods. He falls for a mortal scientist (Natalie Portman) and is forced to take action when wicked brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) threatens mankind. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, says the adventure, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is derived from the hero myth shared by all cultures. "Whether it's Theseus or Spider-man," he says, "the hero's journey is universal."

Immortals (Nov. 11, 2011)

To save mankind, warrior Theseus (Henry Cavill of TV's The Tudors ) leads his troops into battle alongside the immortal Greek gods to fight dark forces unleashed by the elder Titans. Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall) directs Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion, Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) as oracle priestess Phaedra and Kellan Lutz (Twilight) as Poseidon. Gianni Nunnari says he and producing partner Mark Canton are aiming to serve "a great Greek cocktail mixed with testosterone." Adds Canton, "We want to provide strong modern themes that connect to other times in history: honor, freedom, the making of destiny, the changing of relationships — all important in the battle between good and evil."

In the Beginning (2012)

Few ancient tales are as epic as those told in the Old Testament, so why not bring the Good Book into the mix. It's true that The Bible: In the Beginning, director John Huston's unwieldy big-screen adaptation of the first 22 chapters of Genesis from 1966, was a bit of a holy mess. But he did not have the force of 21st-century 3-D technology on his side as does this imagining of the Creation and the story of Adam and Eve aimed at those who flocked to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Producer Cary Granat has described the film as "a story 4 billion people already know, and to which everyone has the rights," adding that "there's never been a telling of the story that would appeal to all people."
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:59 am

http://longagocaptures.org/wordpress/?p=826

USATODAY.com has an article about upcoming movies that have to do with the past. A few new titles were brought to my attention. I hope to update the Upcoming Movies page soon! One of the movies, Valhalla Rising, is a English-Danish movie about Vikings. The article also mentions Immortals (previously War of the Gods), Eagle of the Ninth, Centurion, In the Beginning (a movie about Genesis), Conan, and Prince of Persia.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (May 28)

Based on the popular video game. Buff of body and long of locks, Jake Gyllenhaal makes like a latter-day Douglas Fairbanks as an urchin-turned-prince who must use a magic dagger to stop Ben Kingsley’s evil nobleman from messing with the Sands of Time. Says producer Jerry Bruckheimer of this Arabian Nights-influenced adventure: “It’s a big action picture with romance and a mystical, magical feel to it. Women love it as much as guys.”

Valhalla Rising (July 23)

This savagely violent import from Denmark centers on the mute One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen), an aptly named Viking whose fearlessness is matched only by his supernatural strength. Escaping enslavement, he sails off with a band of Christian warriors in search of the Holy Land. Instead, he finds himself lost in unknown and danger-ridden territory. Director Nicolas Winding Refn has said he was inspired by his love of sci-fi, spaghetti Westerns and samurai movies, “genres where the lead character is a hero of mythical proportions … a silent warrior who stands alone.”

Centurion (Aug. 27)

This graphic British epic unfolds during the second-century invasion of Scotland as Pict tribesmen clash with Roman warriors. When a centurion (Michael Fassbender) and his soldiers stage a rescue of a captive general (Dominic West) from a Pict camp, they are relentlessly hunted by a group of natives led by a female tracker (Bond girl Olga Kurylenko). As Tom Quinn of Magnolia Pictures, whose genre arm — Magnet — is the U.S. distributor, has said, “If history is written in blood, then Centurion is hard-core history — bloody and brutal.”

The Eagle of the Ninth (Sept. 24)

The emotionally sensitive alternative to Centurion is directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and based on a 1954 novel. A young centurion (Channing Tatum) ventures to Roman-ruled Britain to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of his father’s legion 20 years earlier. “The characters experience what happens when myth and reality intersect,” says James Schamus, head of Focus Features. “For us, that was a great attraction and really distinguishes Kevin’s film from what else is out there.”

Conan (Summer 2011)

Robert E. Howard’s barbarian lives again in a new R-rated adventure that will be transferred into 3-D. The 6-foot-5 Hawaiian-born Jason Momoa (TV’s Baywatch) follows in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscular footsteps as the stoic Cimmerian who delivers payback for the murder of his father (Ron Perlman) and destruction of his village. “It’s a simple story of revenge and love,” says producer Avi Lerner, whose company also is doing a Red Sonja update and is eyeing a new Hercules. “Jason and Arnold are similar in that they are both very likable. The character is not always a nice person, yet the audience can forgive him for what he does.”

Immortals (Nov. 11, 2011)

To save mankind, warrior Theseus (Henry Cavill of TV’s The Tudors ) leads his troops into battle alongside the immortal Greek gods to fight dark forces unleashed by the elder Titans. Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall) directs Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion, Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) as oracle priestess Phaedra and Kellan Lutz (Twilight) as Poseidon. Gianni Nunnari says he and producing partner Mark Canton are aiming to serve “a great Greek cocktail mixed with testosterone.” Adds Canton, “We want to provide strong modern themes that connect to other times in history: honor, freedom, the making of destiny, the changing of relationships — all important in the battle between good and evil.”

In the Beginning (2012)

Few ancient tales are as epic as those told in the Old Testament, so why not bring the Good Book into the mix. It’s true that The Bible: In the Beginning, director John Huston’s unwieldy big-screen adaptation of the first 22 chapters of Genesis from 1966, was a bit of a holy mess. But he did not have the force of 21st-century 3-D technology on his side as does this imagining of the Creation and the story of Adam and Eve aimed at those who flocked to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Producer Cary Granat has described the film as “a story 4 billion people already know, and to which everyone has the rights,” adding that “there’s never been a telling of the story that would appeal to all people.”
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:45 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/apr/22/eagle-of-the-ninth-centurion

Centurion kicks off British sword and sandals film wave

This year two British directors are turning the traditional Roman epic on its head by transferring it to the same boggy patch of Roman British history

Charlotte Higgins
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 April 2010 23.15 BST

Sweaty, leather-clad beefcakes slugging it out with ferocious barbarians; glamorous Roman ladies, exquisite but merciless, dripping with jewels; the quiver of a jaunty coxcomb atop a shining helmet – for the filmgoer, this is the familiar world of the sword-and-sandals movie. But this year, two British directors are doing something different with that familiar material: Neil Marshall and Kevin Macdonald transport it into the mud, rain and bogginess of northern England and Scotland to tackle stories about Britain's past as the northernmost province of Rome's empire.

Marshall – best known for the horror movie The Descent – is the writer-director of Centurion, a bloodfest starring Michael Fassbender and Dominic West, which is released later this month. In 117AD, the year Hadrian becomes emperor, the Ninth Legion is ambushed in Scotland and largely destroyed. The few survivors band together but are inventively picked off by a thoroughly nasty band of Pictish guerrilla fighters.

The autumn will bring The Eagle of the Ninth by Kevin Macdonald, adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff's 1954 children's story by Jeremy Brock (who also adapted Giles Foden's novel The Last King of Scotland for Macdonald.) It promises to be a more thoughtful and decorous vision of the Roman province. The story has the young centurion Marcus venturing north of Hadrian's Wall to try to find the eagle – the legion's standard and symbol of honour – that has been lost with the defeat of the Ninth a generation earlier.

It is intriguing that both Marshall and Macdonald's films are concerned with the same patch of Roman British history: the fate of the Ninth Legion, or the IX Hispana, to give it its Roman title. Even more intriguingly, this means both are based on what is almost certainly an historical fallacy. The legion is known to have been stationed in Britain: it suffered a defeat by Boudicca during her rebellion in 60AD, and was involved in building work in York in 108AD. After the 120s, there is no evidence of the legion being in Britain. It simply disappears from archaeological records. That led 19th-century historians to speculate that it was annihilated by northern British tribes. In fact, most scholars now believe that it was simply withdrawn from the province; there is some evidence that places it on the Rhine at a later date. It was probably lost later in the century, perhaps on the Danube.

Why should the idea of the destruction of the Ninth Legion be so attractive to storytellers? It is partly, of course, that the mystery piques the imagination of the writer; and Marshall's rather melodramatic and unlikely unravelling of the myth of the Ninth's disappearance is, in its way, as ingenious as Sutcliff's classic account. But there's also something particularly exciting about the idea that the plucky Picts just might have humiliated the mighty superpower of Rome. As Mary Beard, professor of classics at the University of Cambridge, points out: "The point is that Rome was basically undefeated. It might sustain minor reversals from time to time, but no one could defeat a legion. But it's fun to be able to say, 'Aha, that's the general rule, except in Scotland'. It's partly driven by our sense of the underdog. And that, in fact, puts us in direct conversation with the Romans."

Her point is that it is the Romans themselves who bequeathed us the conceptual materials with which to create such narratives. They were deeply interested in the idea of the underdog, the rebel, the simultaneously sinister and somehow glamorous foreign power that might threaten to unseat them. Latin literature abounds with such ideas: the poet Horace writes of the evils but also the magnetism of Cleopatra; the historian Tacitus, who remains one of history's acutest analysts of empire, gives Boudicca, the queen of the Iceni tribe who rebelled from Roman rule in 60AD, a colourful and charismatic role in his account of Britain, and as Beard puts it, "gives voice to the enemy".

There is, of course, another pressing reason for telling stories about Rome at the beginning of the 21st century: Rome gives us an ideal template for thinking about that other empire, the United States. As Marshall says, his film is about "a superpower invading a country and encountering guerrilla warfare". The modern parallels are obvious. Here is a mighty army that has overconfidently set out to defeat an inhospitable, mountainous land controlled by bloodthirsty warlords. It doesn't take long to be reminded of Afghanistan. Centurion's characters throw out lines such as: "This place is the graveyard of ambition"; "This is a new kind of war; a war without honour, without end." Marshall's story may be an entertaining invention, but enemies on the Roman empire's fringes did indeed use what we would now call terrorism to try to thwart it. As Beard says: "Boudicca is a good analogue for the Taliban."

While Marshall invites us to have some sympathy for the Picts in his story, we are really rooting for the Roman soldiers – just as, in fact, we might empathise with the soldiers in the British or US army, while simultaneously questioning the ethics of the war itself. That chimes with another aspect of his film: in some ways, says Marshall, it is a modern version of "a John Ford cavalry movie – I love films like She Wore a Yellow Ribbon". Northern Britain becomes a kind of wild west, then; the Picts are antique Apaches. "Cavalry films are politically incorrect, now," says Marshall. "There is a difficulty in asking an audience to sympathise with an invading army." As so often, an ancient setting can enable a narrative to tackle ideas that might be uncomfortable if placed closer to home.

Macdonald is also interested in the idea of Rome as the US. "Notions of empire and the end of empire resonate in the narrative, of course. Rosemary Sutcliff was writing at the end of the British empire. In our time, you can rationalise the story as being about the end of the American empire." He points out that "the convention in films from the 1930s to 1950s was that Roman characters should sound English" – a pointer, of course, to the fact that the British imperial project was still the one that mattered. Macdonald has decided to move with the times, so he has cast Americans to play his Romans. Meanwhile, the native Britons speak with regional English accents (Jamie Bell uses his native Sunderland voice). North of the border, the characters speak Scots Gaelic, standing in for Pictish. (The use of Gaelic is a convention shared by both films; a matter of convenience, not authenticity.)

In Sutcliff's original story, Marcus is accompanied on his adventure to the north by a Briton, Esca. Their relationship speaks of an idealised vision of the British empire: Esca is the loyal companion who serves Marcus as an inferior not because he is compelled to do so but through a sense of devotion. Unsurprisingly, Macdonald has intervened. In Brock and Macdonald's retelling, the story is not only a physical one north of the wall, but it also sees Marcus undertaking an inner journey: the gradual recognition that other cultures' values are as important as his own. Macdonald says: "The US would like to imagine that the rest of the world shares – or should share – their values. That's how I imagine the Romans coming to Britain: thinking, 'how could you not share our values?'" It's an intriguing thought that reminds me of a famous passage in Tacitus's Agricola, the historian's biography of his father-in-law, who was governor of Britain from AD78-84. The historian somewhat acerbically notes the role that Latin culture had in pacifying the Britons – the power not so much of their values, as it happens, as their creature comforts. "And so the population was gradually led into the demoralising temptations of arcades, baths and sumptuous banquets. The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as 'civilisation', when in fact, they were only a feature of their enslavement."

For both film-makers, though, it is the landscape that has drawn them so emotionally to these stories. Both have enjoyed turning the sword-and-sandals convention on its head. Marshall says: "The idea of sword and sandals throws up ideas of dust and scorching sunlight. There's not much of that up there. This is bleakness, mud, rain, and rusting armour."

Marshall was born at one end of Hadrian's Wall, in Newcastle upon Tyne, and spent seven years living at the other, in Carlisle. "I spent a huge amount of time driving along the old Roman road from one end of the wall to the other, and I spent a lot of time visiting the wall as a child. I began thinking, 'What could have been over there to make you build a 30ft-high wall across the country?' The Romans didn't seem to have a problem forging a massive empire, yet they didn't, or chose not to, conquer Caledonia. It's as if there was something horrendous – like King Kong – the other side."

Macdonald, who was born in Glasgow, says: "The thing about the story that's always stayed with me since I read it as a child is the idea of Scotland as a threatening land; a world beyond the known world. The basic idea was about crossing Hadrian's Wall, and not knowing what you're going to find when you get there. Marcus is searching for a part of himself – something that will make him whole."

Centurion is reviewed on p9; The Eagle of the Ninth is released in the autumn.

1. Centurion
2. Production year: 2010
3. Country: UK
4. Cert (UK): 15
5. Runtime: 97 mins
6. Directors: Neil Marshall
7. Cast: David Morrissey, Dominic West, Michael Fassbender, Noel Clarke, Olga Kurylenko
8. More on this film
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:22 pm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7629181/Hollywood-turns-to-ancient-warriors-and-legends-to-win-audiences.html

Hollywood turns to ancient warriors and legends to win audiences
Hollywood is mixing ancient and modern, adapting classic tales of warriors and monsters with the latest technology to help audiences escape the reality of recession and war.

By Philip Sherwell in New York
Published: 6:41PM BST 24 Apr 2010

Loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus, the re-make of the 1981 hit Clash of the Titans topped box offices in America for two weeks after its recent release.

But its first screenings were delayed while it was converted into the 3D format that audiences now seem to like.

Also performing strongly in cinemas is How to Train Your Dragon, a computer-animated fantasy featuring the voices of the likes of David Tennant and Gerard Butler and based on the 2003 children's novel by Cressida Crowell, the British writer.

Titans, an action-packed yarn of gods, beasts and swashbuckling heros, is the prelude to a slew of "swords-and-sandals" spectaculars in coming months, including two epics set in Roman Britain – Centurion and The Eagle of the Ninth.

And as studios spot a winning trend, producers are working on new projects that include two Arthurian yarns, Excalibur and Pendragon; Young Caesar; tales of Odysseus and Hercules; a 3D version of Arabian Nights; and an updated Jason and the Argonauts.

Seasoned Hollywood-watchers have not seen the celluloid world so dominated by ancient heroes, deities and fantasies since Conan the Barbarian and the original he-men of Clash of the Titans stormed the big screen three decades ago.

"When the economy is bad, people go for escapism and we are seeing that in a box office boom each weekend worldwide," Phil Contrino, editor of BoxOffice.com, which covers the business of film worldwide, told The Sunday Telegraph.

"Clash of the Titans and How to Train Your Dragon represent worlds that are far from our own and an escape from job insecurity, debates about health care and worrying about paying the bills," he said. "What better way to do this than to take yourself off to a totally different place at the movies?"

But while the themes are escapist, the content is also familiar – Greeks, Romans and Vikings and assorted serpents and dragons.

"That makes for good comfort movies dealing with characters and stories with which they are familiar," said Mr Contrino. "People want to get away from reality with these movies, but nor do they want to be too challenged."

That such colourful adventure stories are also particularly well-suited to portrayal in 3D is also no coincidence as Hollywood tries to cash in on the game-changing success of James Cameron's Avatar blockbuster.

There is an added resonance to Americans flocking to films set during the rise and fall of ancient empires as they contemplate their own long-dominant place in the world amid economic upheavals at home and protracted wars abroad.

"Something clearly is in the air," said James Schamus, chief executive of film production company Focus Features which will distribute The Eagle of the Ninth, in a recent interview with USA Today.

"We Americans are wondering about just what phase of our own empire we're in. And those anxieties certainly fuel mass culture's fantasy life."

As the art house wing of NBC Universal, Focus has previously looked to innovative non-classic films such as Brokeback Mountain and Pride & Prejudice. So it is a sign of the times that it too is moving into the world of the ancients.

Their eagerly awaited offering, The Eagle of the Ninth, is an adaptation of the 1954 historical adventure novel by British writer Rosemary Sutcliff.

Based on the legend of the Ninth Legion, it tells of young centurion's search to discover the truth about the disappearance of his father's legion in the north of Britain and stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland.

Also to be released this summer is a much more brutal tale of Roman Britain in Centurion, set during the second century invasion of Pict tribal lands by the legionnaires. Michael Fassbender and Dominic West are Roman officers while Bond girl Olga Kurylenko has a change of scenery as a female tracker leading a group of Pict hunters.

And in yet another take on the classics, Jerry Bruckheimer produces Nicholas Cage, who plays a twisted mediaeval magician in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, based on a Goethe poem which in turn was inspired by an ancient Greek short story.

Their omens for box office success look good. Clash of the Titans - which stars Sam Worthington fresh from his Avatar triumph, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes - has so far taken $115 million in the US and more than $230 million in total worldwide. And How to Train Your Dragon has grossed $286 million ($136 million of that in the US).

Meanwhile Avatar has of course smashed all records, grossing $750 million in America with a further nearly $2 billion in foreign takings.

By contrast, the gritty Iraq war story of The Hurt Locker may have won the the coveted best picture and best director awards at the Oscars, but cinema-goers largely spurned it. The film took just $16 million at box offices in the US and less than $40 million worldwide.

Even the star names of actor Matt Damon and British director Paul Greengrass – the team behind the extremely successful The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum films – failed to woo audiences to see Iraq thriller Green Zone, a recent flop.

In 2010, it seems that ancient lore and gore is the winning combination.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:44 pm

http://www.shadowlocked.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=591:the-fall-and-rise-of-the-roman-epic&catid=46:movie-features

The fall and rise of the Roman epic
Thursday, 26 August 2010 21:21 Chris Davies MOVIES - MOVIE FEATURES

Perennially revived by technological innovation, it seems that the Roman Empire will never totally fall from the production slate...

All strictly in the service of history...

Since cinema’s earliest days the ancient world has been a source of inspiration for filmmakers. In the early twentieth century Italian studios in particular revisited their country’s past to produce a number of ancient historical epics, utilising the universality of silent-era cinema to sell the films to foreign markets. A strongly visual medium, films set in the ancient world allowed for incredible scenes of grandeur that thrilled and entertained audiences regardless of their historical accuracy. The films of D.W Griffith, especially Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, had played an influential role is creating ‘epic’ cinema, and many films competed to offer the most extravagant spectacle.

Quo Vadis (1951)Aside from the visual splendour of the genre, ancient historical films offered a number of resources to filmmakers. A number of highly successful novels set in antiquity and authored during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century formed the basis of many films, some being remade a number of times, including Quo Vadis? and Ben-Hur. Some of these novels had also been adapted for the stage, which, along with Shakespearean plays and the live pyrotechnic extravaganzas that recreated events such as the destruction of Pompeii provided studios with tried and tested stories to entice audiences.

In Hollywood during this period, Cecil B. DeMille made a name for himself as a master of epic cinema, with such works as The Ten Commandments; a film he would later remake in the 1950’s with Charlton Heston. The Depression and WWII, though, would lessen the number of costly epics in production.

However, following WWII, the ‘golden age’ of the historical film began. Scholars and historians debate whether it was Samson and Delilah or Quo Vadis that truly instigated the revival that saw an incredible number of films set in antiquity released during the 1950s and 1960s. Taking full advantage of their budgets, ‘Technicolor’, and, following 1953’s The Robe, ‘Cinemascope’, these movies gave audiences unprecedented levels of visual wonderment. This was an important weapon for filmmakers who had a new threat to face; television. The number of television sets in American households was increasing greatly, and studios had to offer entertainment on a scale that could not be replicated on the small-screen in order to draw in audiences. The method worked, and some films, such as Cleopatra, Spartacus and Ben-Hur, were destined to become iconic pieces of cinema.

"Watching tales of honest people overcoming tyrannical powers and promoting freedom and democracy resonated with the audiences who had seen the downfall of Hitler’s regime but were entering the Cold War"

Although on the surface these epics appeared escapist, spectacular adventure stories ‘for all the family’, they had a deeper social significance. Following WWII, their common motif of Christian morality within a Roman setting (including Spartacus, despite its BCE setting), confirmed the values and familial loyalty that was desired in the American people, and watching tales of honest people overcoming tyrannical powers and promoting freedom and democracy resonated with the audiences who had seen the downfall of Hitler’s regime but were entering the Cold War.

Despite their appeal in the 1950s, the ancient historical epic would eventually fade away in the mid sixties. Cinematic trends were changing, and the spiralling expense of Cleopatra and weak reception to Anthony Mann’s The Fall of the Roman Empire convinced studios to cease productions in the costly genre. Another contributing factor may have been the influx of Italian-made muscleman epics, or pepla; cheaply made, badly dubbed films set in ancient Greece or Rome featuring muscle-bound leads in tiny, brightly coloured ‘skirts’ that flooded cinemas and drive-ins during the 1950s and 1960s. Although fun, the sheer numbers and poor quality of these films would have eventually tired audiences of seeing the ancient world on screen.

"In many ways the genre’s survival came only loosely through ancient history’s influence on science fiction films"

The Fall Of The Roman Empire (1964) - and a temporary end to 'sword and sandals' flicks

The general scholarly consensus is that the true ancient historical epic ended in 1964 with The Fall of the Roman Empire, only to be revived with 2000’s Gladiator. During the three decades between those movies a number of other films were released set in antiquity, but these became few and far between. Many were biblical epics, where their overtly Biblical subject matter usually excludes these films from inclusion in the ‘ancient historical epic’ genre. Others included comedies, such as Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and fantasy films like Clash of the Titans. Most of the films released in this gap were met with poor critical and commercial reactions, especially Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, or else spoofed the genre or approached it in an alternative style; Fellini Satyricon being an important example. In many ways the genre’s survival came only loosely through ancient history’s influence on science fiction films, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Logan's Run and Star Wars.

Xena, warrior princessBy the 1990s, and after three decades of cinematic absenteeism, the ancient historical epic had largely fallen into camp-nostalgia and cliché, with their garishly coloured costumes, bearded religious figures, over-sexed Roman femme-fatales, flimsy Christian slave girls and muscular pagan leads. It seemed that the ancient extravaganza would never again make it onto the cinema screen.

Gladiator changed that. Ridley Scott’s Roman epic grew from the revival of the historical epic during the 1990s, beginning with Dances with Wolves. The historical film experienced a massive boom, from the Western, (Dances with Wolves, Unforgiven) to the War Film (Schindler’s List, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan), the Romance (Shakespeare in Love, Titanic) and so on. Each movie paid homage to its filmic predecessors to revive or revisit their respective genres, and used modern filmmaking techniques – from Saving Private Ryan’s gritty realism and violence to Titanic’s Computer Generated recreation of historical settings – to re-imagine how the historical film should look and feel.

Gladiator drew on these new filmmaking methods to create a new cinematic vision of Rome, but one that also felt familiar. The sense of nostalgia that lay at the heart of the 1990s revival largely derived from key Hollywood figures – Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Mel Gibson et al. – revisiting their own childhoods within their roles as fathers, and wanting to recreate the type of films they had grown up with. Particularly in Spielberg’s case, this included utilising the educative feature of the epics of the 1950s and 1960s. Films such as Ben-Hur were often worked into school history lessons in America, and releases were marked with activity packs for children teaching them about the history behind the film. Spielberg’s 1990s epics, including Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and Amistad, all had strong moral cores and aimed to widen the awareness of historical issues.

"While Gladiator may not be historically accurate or necessarily educational, it nonetheless widened the awareness of classical civilisations and studies"

While Gladiator may not be historically accurate or necessarily educational, it nonetheless widened the awareness of classical civilisations and studies. It’s violent and visually stunning representation of ancient Rome proved highly successful with critics and audiences alike, and the westernisation of its characters and themes helped audiences engage with the film and the setting. Although interest in ancient history had grown slightly during the 1990s with the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warriror Princess TV series and Disney’s Hercules, it was ultimately the success of Gladiator, showcasing what can be achieved with CGI, historical action, and strong characterisations, that led to the revival of the ancient historical film.

Troy followed, exceeding Gladiator’s own commercial success, and although King Arthur and Alexander failed to shine, 300 affirmed the box-office potential of films set in antiquity. This appears to have culminated in 2010’s release of Clash of the Titans, Centurion, The Eagle of the Ninth, and even Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, as well as the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, following in the footsteps of HBO’s Rome.

On the surface then, the ancient historical film looks set to continue. Or does it?

Centurion received a disappointingly small cinematic release, and it will be interesting to see how the similar Eagle of the Ninth will be received. However, Clash of the Titans was a commercial hit (although probably not on the levels the studios were hoping for), despite incredibly poor reviews, and the release of Spartacus: Blood and Sand may well be a telling sign. With its heavily 300-influenced visuals, along with Clash of the Titans’ mythological story, it may be that the serious historical epic, like Gladiator, has now had its brief revival. Unless there is a highly successful, mature historical epic over the next couple of years – Robin Hood appears to have disappointed – then the future of the ancient historical film seems to rest in the blockbuster, fantasy-aesthetic of movies such as Clash of the Titans and 300.

Only time will tell.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:03 pm

http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2010/08/29/ancient_rome_spawns_modern_tv_and_movie_ventures__again__this_year_and_next/

Do as the Romans did, then overdo it again
Andy Whitfield stars in “Spartacus: Blood and Sand’’ (2010). Andy Whitfield stars in “Spartacus: Blood and Sand’’ (2010). (Kirsty Griffin/Starz)
By Justine Elias
Globe Correspondent / August 29, 2010
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With “Centurion’’ slashing its way into select cinemas nationwide, now is as good a time as any to revisit some movies and TV shows set in ancient Rome and examine the recently energized, post-“Gladiator’’ wave.

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The 1,100-year empire has inspired great works of entertainment from Britain, Italy, and the United States. These include costly, overblown epics; Fellini fantasies; and, arguably, a few of the finest television series ever made. Rome is the go-to era for stories of crime, debauchery, and power, for films that push the technical boundaries of the art. But the most intriguing movies and television shows set in ancient Rome tend to be those that attempt less historical accuracy and use the era as a dark mirror to our own times. In “Titus Andronicus,’’ written around 1590, Shakespeare likened the political atmosphere of old Rome to “a wilderness of tigers.’’ But the line could also describe Shakespeare’s era, or Washington’s political churn.

When TV’s new Spartacus hears that he’s destined for “great and unfortunate things,’’ he wonders — as Kirk Douglas’s forceful, forthright 1960 hero never did — if he is strong enough to face his future. He is wise to look over his shoulder before he sets out.

CLEOPATRA (1963)

Gaudy, gloriously overdressed, and underwhelming, this leaden spectacle, directed by Joseph K. Mankiewicz, helped bankrupt its studio, 20th Century Fox, and sink the sword-and-sandal genre for more than 30 years. Production costs soared to $44 million and stretched over four years, but give the studio credit for a witty sales pitch: “The movie the world has been waiting for!’’ Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the 243-minute spectacle became more notable as gossip-column and cinema-studies fodder than as great entertainment. Despite the Taylor-Burton real-life romance (both were married to other people at the time), the spectacle unfolds with a disappointing lack of passion; only Rex Harrison, as the spurned Julius Caesar, conveys the full impact of Cleopatra’s fatal allure. Earlier Cleopatras — Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh — reveled more convincingly in their power to build and bring down nations.

I, CLAUDIUS (1976)

Rude, racy, and raw, this 13-episode BBC miniseries, first shown on public television here in 1978, invented a secret history for Rome’s first four emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. Historical dramas and nighttime soap operas haven’t been the same since. The star of the show: Empress Livia (Sian Phillips), who stage-managed Augustus’s reign and paved the way for her favorite son’s succession by murdering all rivals, sometimes in the cradle. Though historian William Gibbon described Claudius as one of Rome’s stupidest and most destructive rulers, novelist Robert Graves, whose works inspired “I, Claudius,’’ creates him as the unsung hero of the empire, a shy scholar who hides behind his birth injury (he’s lame) and stammer to avoid the malice within his own horrible family. Derek Jacobi (Claudius) and John Hurt (as creepy Caligula) made their careers here. The 2008 special-edition DVD includes “The Epic That Never Was,’’ a 1965 BBC documentary on the making of Josef von Sternberg’s unfinished film version of “I, Claudius,’’ with 25 minutes of footage shot by cinematographer Curt Siodmak. Graves himself had adapted his novel for the screen; the cast included Flora Robson, Merle Oberon, and a very young Emlyn Williams as Caligula. As Claudius, Charles Laughton appears uneasy, even shaky, as he delivers his lines. He was said to be suffering from a lack of confidence in his acting. The film was called off when Oberon was injured in an automobile accident.

GLADIATOR (2000)

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Ridley Scott’s rousing and hugely successful (worldwide gross of $457 million) epic reinvigorated the genre and went on to earn five Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor. The film’s opening sequence, a thrilling winter battle set in second-century Germania, introduced the tough yet soulful hero, military man Maximus (Russell Crowe, at his brutal best). The film’s portrait of Marcus Aurelius (a regal Richard Harris), contemplating both his own death and the fragile state of the empire, promises a more thoughtful story than the arena-rock, gladiator fights that follow. “How will the world speak my name in years to come,’’ asks the emperor, the leader of the world’s only superpower. “Will I be known as the philosopher? The warrior? The tyrant?’’ Good questions, apparently forgotten while Crowe slays tigers and hacks off people’s heads.

ROME (HBO, 2005-08)

Think of this highly fictionalized, gorgeously detailed HBO series as the hidden life of Rome before “I, Claudius.’’ Key players include general-turned-dictator Julius Caesar (Ciarán Hinds) and his she-wolf of a niece Atia (Polly Walker). Season 2, curtailed by network budget cuts, still managed to capture an eccentric, otherworldly Cleopatra (Lyndsey Marshal) and the battle for power between Mark Anthony (James Purefoy) and Atia’s well-coached son, Octavian (Simon Woods). Even better was the human drama of two legionnaires (Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson), veterans of Caesar’s northern campaigns. Rewarded for outstanding service, they find that their families cannot cope with wealth, high status, or the lies they’ve told while their soldiers were away. (Available on DVD and Blu-ray)

SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND (Starz, 2010)

A Post-it-sized pitch (“Spartacus done like ‘300’ ’’) sold this cheerfully over-the-top, fictionalized reimagining of the Spartacus legend. As the rebel hero (a soldier turned gladiator in this version), Welsh-born Andy Whitfield has a Clint Eastwood squint, a slow-burning fuse, and a bad bargain with his hated owner, Batiatus (John Hannah). When he isn’t swearing a blue streak, Batiatus promises Spartacus a chance to be reunited with his wife, who also has been enslaved. The producers — including Sam Raimi — break new ground by focusing on how the anxious, striving middle class (Batiatus and his adoring, scheming wife, played by Lucy Lawless) lose sleep over debts, social status, and fertility issues, yet are thoughtlessly cruel to their slaves. And those slaves aren’t the faceless, nameless background players of previous epics; they’re the resentful, beaten-down, terrorized majority who finally realize that “the dream that was Rome’’ doesn’t include them. (Season 1 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 21. A six-part prequel is expected to air in January.)

THE EAGLE (2011)

Coming from Focus Features, this one is based on Rosemary Sutcliffe’s young adult novel series, “The Eagle of the Ninth,’’ first published in 1955. It’s based on archeological evidence suggesting that Rome’s Ninth Legion disappeared after a perilous march into northern Britain. (And yes, the same Ninth Legion is at the center of Neil Marshall’s new film, “Centurion.’’) In the 1977 BBC series titled “The Eagle of the Ninth’’ (still unavailable on VHS or DVD), Anthony Higgins played Marcus Flavius Aquila, the soldier son of the lost legion’s commander. Wounded in battle, tortured by rumors of his father’s fate, Marcus and his British slave undertake a journey north, seeking to solve the mystery of the Ninth and retake the symbol of Roman power: a golden eagle. Don’t worry, there’s action, too — the book, a coming-of-age story, has sword fights, explosions, wild chases on horseback about every 10 pages — the hero’s even got a trained wolf to help him. Producers of the BBC series made analogies between the aggrieved, unconquerable Roman-era Caledonians — always a hot historical subject there — and Native Americans. “The Eagle,’’ filmed on location in Scotland and Hungary, is due out in February from director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland’’) and producer Duncan Kenworthy, who both say they thrilled to Sutcliffe’s novels as boys. Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, and Mark Strong star.

CORIOLANUS (2011)

Ralph Fiennes makes his directorial debut with a modern-dress version of Shakespeare’s tragedy of a Roman general, a one-man war machine rejected by his countrymen in peacetime. Big mistake, Rome. Coriolanus seeks refuge with his former enemy, Aufidius, and plots revenge against the city — until Coriolanus’s formidable mother, Volumnia, hatches her own plan to stop him. Filmed in Bosnia, the movie outfits its cast with contemporary combat gear and weapons. Fiennes, as the prideful title hero, reprises a role he played onstage in London and New York. Vanessa Redgrave is Volumnia and Gerard Butler, no stranger to action roles, plays Aufidius. A 1995 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s most brutal Roman play, “Titus Andronicus,’’ directed by Julie Taymor, earned critical praise and an Academy Award for best original score. Fiennes’s project, too, has aroused intense interest, but the movie won’t debut until the Belgrade International Film Festival next March, and no US release has yet been set.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:23 pm

http://clatl.com/screengrab/archives/2010/09/02/rome-if-you-want-to-the-empire-in-pop-culture

Thursday, September 2, 2010
Movies Rome, if you want to: The Empire in pop culture
Posted by Curt Holman on Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Imagine Gladiator vs. Braveheart on a modest budget and you can envision the basic experience of Centurion, Neil Marshall's new thriller set in 117 A.D. Though set primarily in Caledonia (a.k.a. Scotland), Centurion follows the sandal-tracks of contemporary portrayals of the Roman Empire, which seems to provide perpetual metaphors for political corruption and overreaching superpowers. For a chronological tour of Roman history through high-profile movies and other A&E forms, consider the following, but don't trust their historical accuracy.

1. Spartacus. Kirk Douglas declares "I am Spartacus" in this historically suspect Hollywood epic about a slave-turned-gladiator who leads a rebellion against the Roman Empire. Laurence Olivier plays the bad guy, Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus, while Peter Ustinov won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as a slave trader. Stanley Kubrick replaced original director Anthony Mann, although it feels more like a conventional sword-and-toga film than one of Kubrick's originals. (For something sleazier, check out "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" on Starz.)

2. Imperium and Conspirata. Robert Harris, author of The Ghost Writer, has recently been writing a rousingly entertaining pop history of Cicero, Rome's most famous orator. Narrated by Cicero's lifelong slave Tiro (a real person who invented an early form of shorthand), the first book focuses on a gripping courtroom drama, followed by a page-turning political campaign, while the second pits Cicero against sinister conspiracies that undermine the Republic for the benefit of a young go-getter called Julius Caesar. Crassus serves as Imperium's primary bad guy, so it segues nicely with Spartacus while Conspirata provides useful backstory to...

3. "Rome," Season 1. HBO's combination of military history and lurid family drama depicts the Republic's turning points primarily from the point of view of two soldiers, the morally upstanding Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and the earthy badass Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson). Ciarin Hinds plays Julius Caesar at such major moments as the conquest of the Guals and the crossing of the Rubicon, up to — spoiler alert! — his assassination on the Senate floor in the season finale. Pullo's gladiatorial sequence late in the season is one of the most intense and bloody fight scenes in TV history:

4. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Consider the 1953 film version with Marlon Brando as Mark Antony and James Mason as Brutus. Louis Calhern plays Caesar, but the play's less about him than the moral struggle and downfall of Brutus.

5. "Rome" Season 2. The show's second season puts a little too much emphasis on organized crime (although it features a high-impact street fight scene reminiscent of the opening rumble in Gangs of New York). The civil wars and power struggles following Caesar's death pit Mark Antony and Cleopatra against Octavian, a.k.a. future emperor Augustus.

6. Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare. Are there any good film or video versions of this? Maybe Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra would be preferable?

7. "I, Claudius." One of "Masterpiece Theatre's" greatest miniseries, this adaptation of Robert Graves' impeccable historical novels presents the private lives of Rome's Imperial family from the point of view of stammering but deceptively wise Claudius (Derek Jacobi), who witnesses the twilight of Augustus' reign and survives the schemes of Augustus's wife Livia and subsequent emperors Tiberius and cuckoo-bananas Caligula (John Hurt at his best). Claudius lives to become Emperor himself. You should resist any temptation to watch the wearisome, pornographic Caligula biopic starring Malcolm McDowell.

8. "The Fall of the Roman Empire." Having been kicked off Spartacus, director Anthony Mann got to see a Roman epic to completion with this 1964 account of the death of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guinness) and the reign of his son Commodus (Christopher Plummer). I confess that I've never seen it, but it's fairly well-regarded and probably deserves a viewing. Incidentally, Ridley Scott's Gladiator presents roughly the same time period, with Richard Harris as Marcus Aurelius and Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus. I suspect Gladiator has more man vs. tiger action, though.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:15 pm

I love the fact that every time an article about "The Ninth Eagles" shows up on the internet, they all talk about Centurion, in anticipation for the Eagle film. I see it a lot, and that's good for Michael, Neil and the film.

One of the supporting actors in the Eagle film, is also in Jane Eyre, so small world.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:47 am

http://adhocclassicism.blogspot.com/2010/11/top-15-historical-movies.html

Sunday, November 28, 2010
Top 15 Historical Movies
Since 20 was too many and 10 was not enough, I figured I'd use this blog post as a platform to list my top 15 historical movies. For the sake of making it even more fun, I'll also be listing why these particular films got the nod and which era of western or world civilization they represent. It's not too hard to guess that my favorite genre of movie is the historical, and within that particular genre, I always look for realism, historical accuracy, and good, authentic costumes.



15. Alexander
(Ancient Greece circa 4th century BC)
I like Colin Farrell as an actor and Alexander the Great made conquering the known world cool before anyone knew it was cool. Alexander was one of the only movies ever made about the Macedonian general/king, and for the most part, I thought it was a well made film. I didn't care for the soundtrack or the conflicting, outlandish accents constantly being thrown at me, but I did like the fact that the story was narrated by Ptolemy I Soter, Alexander the Great's distant cousin and general - and Cleopatra VII's oldest Ptolemaic ancestor. I'm not a huge fan of Oliver Stone's directing style, but he does some good things in Alexander, especially in the battle sequence in which the Macedonians take their forces just beyond the Hindu Kush to fight the native Indians and their massive war elephants. Powerful scene with Alexander and his horse, Bucephalus, raring back against the Indian commander and his raring war elephant. Oliver Stone only focused on certain aspects of Alexander the Great's conquests, and I only wish that he'd included the conquest of Egypt when the Macedonian king was seen as a liberator by the Egyptians, and when he subsequently named the city of Alexandria after himself.




14. Queen Margot (La Reine Margot)
(Imperial France circa late 16th century)
Queen Margot isn't really the type of historical I usually go for, but it contains all the elements that make the Renaissance period so interesting. The daughter of Catherine de Medici, Margot, has been arranged to marry Henri de Navarre in a loveless marriage. Elements such as court intrigue and backstabbing for political gain provide a backdrop against the infamous St. Bartholemew's Massacre in which French Catholics slaughtered French Protestants in the streets of Paris. Unfortunately, history seems to repeat as the same sort of thing is still going on in Northern Ireland. There are a few reasons I like La Reine Margot so much. The film stars several renowned French actors, including Daniel Auteuil (The Widow of St. Pierre), Jean-Hughes Anglade (Killing Zoe), Pascal Greggory (The Nest), Vincent Perez (The Crow: City of Angels), Asia Argento (Marie Antoinette), and Isabelle Adjani (Diabolique) as the snooty but multi-layered Queen Margot. The costumes are detailed and rich, and the story, while slow-developing at times, is intriguing and complicated. Anyone who studies the Renaissance and political families such as the Medici and the Borgias will find themselves into this one.





13. From Hell
(late 19th century Victorian England)
I'm not sure if the average audience considers From Hell to be a horror of a historical, but I consider it the latter. After all, the film focuses on the murders of Jack the Ripper in the East End of Victorian London. I consider Jack the Ripper to be a historical figure, as he was the world's first seriall killer, stalking his prostitute victims in 1888. The primary reason that this movie makes the list is because of Johnny Depp, in the role of Ripper-case detective Frederick Abberline. Though he's an American actor, his East End accent is spot on and he does a great job as the opium and absinthe-addicted inspector, tracking every movement of the serial killer. Directors Allan and Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) are known more for their prodominately African-American films (except the more recent The Book of Eli), but they do a great job of casting here, as their actual English actors speak great East End accents (except Heather Graham, whose Mary Kelly character is of Irish descent). The film keeps you guessing as to the true identity of the Ripper up until the very end, and good lines are exchanged in the realization of such: Jack the Ripper - "One day, people will say that I gave birth to the 20th century." Inspector Abberline while aiming his gun at the Ripper - "You're not going to see the 20th century." Awesome.




12. Plunkett & Macleane
(late 18th century England)
Much like Brotherhood of the Wolf, leather gloves, petticoats, one-shot pistols and three-pointed hats rule the period comedy-drama in which the title characters rob from the rich to give to...well, themselves. Scottish actor Robert Carlisle (28 Weeks Later) and English actor Jonny Lee Miller (Dracula 2000, Hackers) play yin and yang partners in Plunkett (Carlisle) & Macleane (Miller), one a rugged vagabond and the other a down-on-his-luck pretty boy with connections to the aristocracy. Liv Tyler and Alan Cumming (Titus, Get Carter) are great supporting characters, expecially Cumming, who plays an effeminate, libertine in Lord Rochester who finds himself probably more partisan to the cause of the robbers than he should be, considering his noble title. The film is stylistically done, and I think another reason why it ended up so high on my list is that it reminds so much of Brotherhood of the Wolf, especially in the costume department (the two films take place right around the same time and fashion in Europe, as it still does today, spread among most of the countries).






11. Cleopatra (1963)
(Ancient Egypt, mid to late first century BC)
I usually don't care for older movies. The only exceptions are The Warriors, The Godfather and Godfather II, and of course, Cleopatra. I think the thing I like most about the 1963 version is the extremely well-written dialogue, especially between Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) and Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison), and then Cleopatra and Mark Antony (Richard Burton). The over-budgeted film was well worth its layover, as for the time, the costumes and props turned out to be outstanding. Much like the first two Godfather films, I feel that Cleopatra was made well before its time. Yes, Liz Taylor was far too pretty to play Cleopatra. Yes, the Roman kilts and boots were far too short. But besides a those few slip-ups and the few historical inaccuracies, Cleopatra is an amazing movie. And besides those first two Godfather films, Cleopatra is the only movie over three hours long that I've managed to watch in one sitting. All in all, it's a worthwhile way to spend 320 minutes of your life.





10. Apocalypto
(pre-Spanish colonization Mexico)
Apocalypto is a phenomenal film about the fall of the Mayan civilization, spoken entirely in the native Mayan tongue. This of course is one of the reasons I love Mel Gibson-directed films. He does the same with Passion of the Christ, in which all his actors spoke the languages they would've spoken at that time (Jesus and the disciples speak Aramaic, the Jewish contingent speak Hebrew, and the Roman governor and his legions speak Latin). Apocalypto is simply a great story, taut and intense with solid acting performances from painted-up, bone-pierced Mayans. Rudy Youngblood (seen above) plays Jaguar Paw, a loyal son, father, and husband who places his family above all when he escapes captors and disease to get back to them. His methods of fighting the opposition are clever and innovative, and the gore seen in the destruction of his rival Mayan tribes are more than justified. Apocalypto is a break from the norm as a historical film, and I honestly can't wait for Mel Gibson's next directing endeavor (assuming he's not totally blacklisted from Hollywood).




9. Musa the Warrior
(14th century East Asia)
Musa the Warrior is a well-written movie, full of rich characters with complicated relationships. Unlike so many other films these days, this one is dominated by expressions (that sometimes say far more than words). The film follows a band of Korean diplomats, soldiers, and slaves after they are banished to the Gobi desert by the Chinese Ming Dynasty. The Ming are an enemy of the Yuan Dynasty, the portion of China conquered by the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan's grandson, Kubilai, conquered upper China and placed his own men in charge, establishing his Mongol/Chinese court with Mongols and Chinamen alike. The star of the film, Yeosol (seen above) is a freed slave, amazingly skilled with a spear as his love/hate relationship with Ming Princess Furong (Ziyi Zhang, Hero, House of Flying Daggers) plays out for most of the film. A given element in Asian historical dramas is the good ol' love triangle, played out here between Yeosol, Princess Furong, and Korean general Choi Jung. The latter can't stand Yeosol, but his sergeant, skilled archer Jinlip, finds friendship with the slave/turned spear-wielder. The Mongol general, who's hot on the trail of the Princess, also likes what he sees in Yeosol, as he wants to incorporate him into the Yuan Mongol army. The final battle between the Koreans and the Yuan is an amazing, heartbreaking one in which warriors sacrifice to fight for the weak and innocent, and Princess Furong reminds me of a Helen of Troy sort of character, the battle transpiring basically because of her.




8. A Very Long Engagement (Un Long Dimache de Fianceailles)
(World War I era France)
Yet another quirky but endearing film by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, City of Lost Children), A Very Long Engagement takes all the best elements of Amelie, including actress Audrey Tautou, and mixes it with a historical war film to tell quite the romantic mystery. Tautou's character, the polio-ridden Mathilde, is lovesick in the worst way, as her lover, Manech, never returned home from the World War I. She soon begins to conduct an investigation into Manech's whereabouts, if he even survived. After all, during the war, five soldiers are condemned to die due to their self-mutilation as an avenue for returning home. Manech is one of them. But so is Angel Bassignano, a Corsican pimp back in the real world whose favorite girl of ill-repute, Tina Lombardi (Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose, Public Enemies), is conducting her own investigation - but in very different way than Mathilde. I like the fact that Corsican characters are used in the film, as the French-speaking Italian island is the stretch of land that produced none other than Napoleon Bonaparte (actually born Napoleone Buonaparte but he changed his name slightly in order to sound more French). The film is also riddled with Mathilde's endearing superstitions. In one instance, while sulking for Manech on her bed, she says to herself that if her dog, Chickpea, enters her room before she's called to dinner by her aunt and uncle, Manech is still alive, giving her the hope she so desperately clings to. This is heart-breaking love story on many levels, and not just for Mathilde and Manech. Jodie Foster, who is fluent in French, plays a crucial role in Jeunet's film, a director who's not exactly known for employing American actors (except for Ron Perlman in The City of Lost Children).




7. The 13th Warrior
(10th century AD)
Based on the Michael Crichton novel, Eaters of the Dead, The 13th Warrior follows Ahmed Ibn Fadlan, an Arabic poet turned emissary who fatefully crosses paths with the mighty Norsemen, led by their brand new king, Buliwyf. The movie never states which Scandinavian country the Vikings hail from, but one has to assume they're Norwegian or Danish instead of Swede, judging from their names alone. Thanks to the local oracle, Ahmed is fated to accompany the Norsemen on a journey back to their homeland. There, they are to combat the Wendol, a cannibalistic, cave-dwelling, Neanderthal-type people ravaging the Norse mainland with their painted faces and bearskin headdresses. Ahmed eventually learns the Northman language through night after night of listening to it, and he quickly turns himself from a poet into a warrior. The relationship between the Vikings and the Arab is an interesting one, as the Norse are almost compelled to respecting Ahmed and his dedication to Allah. The end is classic, as the Vikings recite their Valhallian prayer as the Arab joins in. Religious tolerance seems to be a sublte theme of the film, as does amicable international relations. Though the Norsemen, one in particular, wears a Roman gladiator's helmet (totally inaccurate), The 13th Warrior is still a well-written film.




6. Centurion
(2nd century Roman Empire)
Though I've only seen it once, Centurion gets such a high rating in my countdown simply because it's awesome. It contains all the elements I like in a good historical - Romans, tough Celtic women, an intense chase across the highlands of Scotland, and Imperial Guards. The Roman costumes are authentic, as is the blue war paint often worn by the Celtic tribes, namely the ones in the movie - the Picts. The tough tribe is led by Etain, a gifted tracker on the trail of Quintus Dias and small troupe of legionnaries who they've just defeated in battle. The cinematography is nicely done in hues of blue and gray, and the gore is in most cases justified. The complicated aspects of this film are that the Romans, the primary subject, are not seen as the good guys even though we're almost compelled to root for Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender, 300, Inglourious Basterds). Funny thing is, the Picts aren't seen as the good guys either, nor is Etain, even though her tongue was cut out by the Romans at an early age. I'm not sure if director Neil Marshall did this on purpose, but it seems to work for him. Fassbender is a tough customer here just as he is in 300, and I'm looking forward to my second viewing of this Roman era film.




5. Gangs of New York
(mid 19th century New York)
Based on the popular 1928 nonfiction book by Herbert Asbury, Gangs of New York traces the daily conflict between the Irish immigrants flooding into New York and self-proclaimed natives holding sway over it. This is course goes down with the backdrop of the Civil War Draft Riots in which a class struggle breaks out across the city, peasant overtaking the privelaged, ala the French Revolution. Leo DiCaprio pulls off a pretty decent Irish accent as Amsterdam Vallon, a young man searching the city far and wide for Bill "The Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), the killer of his father (Liam Neeson). Day-Lewis is by far the best part of the movie, as he is the best villain I've ever seen. He really nails his roles and in this particular one, he became Bill "The Butcher" during the filming, staying in character the entire shoot. Though I don't really care for Cameron Diaz, other supporting characters such as Brendan Gleeson (Troy, Kingdom of Heaven) and John C. Reilly (The Perfect Storm, Stepbrothers), fill the roles of Monk McGinn and Happy Jack Mulraney with much believability. Martin Scorsese makes fine films and Gangs of New York is by far one of his best.




4. Kingdom of Heaven
(12th century during the second Crusade)
This is probably the most powerful commentary on religious tolerance that I've ever seen. The Crusades was a complicated time in our world's history, and Kingdom of Heaven does a pretty good job to make some sense of it. Muslim leader Saladin is accurately portrayed, as he was a good ruler who appreciated all religions, allowing them to flourish in the capital city he came to control. This of course can't be said of the Christian Crusaders, whom in the movie looked for any excuse they could find for going to war with the Muslims. Led by Jerusalem's French royal Guy de Lusignan, the Knights Templar continually attack and kill peaceful Muslim caravans unprovoked - simply because they claim that "God wills it." Saladin doesn't fly off the handle at this as much as Jerusalem King Baldwin does. He seeks to keep the peace with the Muslims despite the idiotic husband (Guy) of his regal sister, Sibylla (Eve Green). The star of the film, Balian de Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), of course finds his way into the heart of Sibylla before honoring the pact he made with his father, Godfrey (Liam Neeson), to protect the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. The film has a strong storyline and intense battle scenes, and I think one reason I like it so much is that it was directed by Ridley Scott (he and brother Tony are probably my favorite directors). Despite an unrealistic shipwreck in which Balian comes out the only survivor, along with a horse for him to ride on in the Holy Land of course, Kingdom of Heaven is a great historical movie on the scarcely-covered topic of The Crusades.




3. Gladiator
(1st century AD Roman Empire)
I not only love Gladiator because it's a Roman era epic, but it can be seen in some respects as an example of alternate history. As anyone who studies the Roman Empire knows, Commodus never killed his father, Marcus Aurelius. Commodus didn't die in the arena. Russell Crowe's character, Maximus Decimus Meridius, never existed. But, its obvious that screenwriter David Franzoni didn't go for historical accuracy here. If you watch the movie for this reason, you'll not enjoy it. I watch it for the costumes, the action, the cinematography, and for the ending that makes me tear up every time I watch it. Another reason I like it so much is because of the score, written for the movie by Hans Zimmer, and for one of the best scenes and best lines in a movie ever. "Are you not entertained?!"




2. 300
(5th century in the Grecian city-states)
Before Greece was Greece, it was a collection of independent city-states such as Athens, Macedonia, Mycenae, Corinth, Asia Minor, and Sparta. On the verge of being conquered by the invading Persians, Sparta and a few other volunteers from the other city-states went out to meet them in battle and hold them until a war council unified all the Greek territories. Out of this comes the story of the 300 Spartans, the topic on which Frank Miller wrote his graphic novel. Based off of the graphic novel, the 300 film, directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, The Watchmen), is a very romanticized version of the Peloponessian Wars waged by a tiny Spartan-led force against a massive incursion of Persians. The thing I like the most about 300 is that it comes across like the old Greek myths passed down from one generation to the next - ones in which there exists giant elephants and rhinos, axe-wielding beastmen, monster executioners, and goats who play the reed pipe. No, Persian King Xerxes wasn't 7 feet tall. No, the Spartans weren't scantily-clad with little to no armor protecting their bodies. But the film achieves what it sets out to accomplish, and that is to tell a very real tale in a fantastical way. Great slow motion fight scenes, good dialogue in which lines actually spoken by King Leonidas appear. And did I mention the fight scenes?





1. Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups)
(18th century pre-Revolution France)
I say pre-Revolution, but the end of the film introduces the infamous French Revolution, a favorite of mine in terms of historical events. Much like Plunkett & Macleane, Brotherhood of the Wolf displays one of my favorite eras in terms of style as well, when men wore weathered leather gloves and overcoats, high boots lined with studs, and three-pointed hats. French director Christophe Gans proves his amazing knack for cinematography with slow motions fight scenes and sweeping shots of the French countryside. As you'll find in my review of Brotherhood of the Wolf on this blog, the story follows actual events that plagued the peaceful rural province of Gevaudan, events that are still to this day unsolved. The characters are just as colorful as the costumes, and Greggoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), Jean-Francois Marangias (Vincent Cassel), and Sylvia (Monica Bellucci) are delightful to watch. Like you'll also find in my review, this is a one of a kind film with all the elements I appreciate in an action film, a period piece, and a costume drama. It's a more explosive Queen Margot. It's Plunkett & Macleane in a different country with even edgier characters. It's a film that will simply change all your pre-conceived notions of a historical film.
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:23 am

http://videogametestingsite.com/swords-and-sandals-goes-epic

Swords and Sandals Goes Epic
By Matt Branson, on January 27th, 2011

Somewhere in the North of Britain, AD117. A rain-sodden band of Roman soldiers from the infamous Ninth Legion bemoan their lot while keeping guard at midnight in a fort. It’s the start of Neil Marshall’s Ancient-era action movie Centurion, and the hero, Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) grumbles, “I know this enemy well. They will not be drawn into open combat. This is a new kind of war!”

Suddenly, the soldiers are snapped to attention by a noise from the darkness outside. It could be the dreaded savages from the local Pict tribes. It could be a Boadicea-style female assassin who is lurking in the shadows. Or it could, given the right timings and locations, be the sound of the cast and crew from another competing Ninth Legion movie, which is gaining ground near by. This one is called Eagle of the Ninth, and stars Jamie Bell, is directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), and is coming soon to a sword’n'sandals-filled cinema near you.

There has never been a better time to make a movie set in the Ancient era. Besides these two high-profile Ninth Legion films, we are also about to witness a big-budget Clash of the Titans remake that features Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and $100 million worth of special effects. We’ve already had the Greek gods and teen heroes in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Mickey Rourke, meanwhile, is starring in Dawn of War, a mortals-versus-gods adventure from the director Tarsem Singh (The Fall). Plus, the TV series Rome is being revamped for the big screen, and the hottest story in US TV right now is the explicit raunch and violence in the Gladiator-inspired series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

So what’s behind this resurgence? And why is it happening now? And what, for that matter, have the Romans ever really done for us? They’ve given us great stories, says Spartacus’s executive producer, Robert Tapert, who sees the renewed interest in all things Ancient as a timely confluence of primal storytelling archetypes and movie-making technology. “What all these stories have in common is a great heroic central figure who sets out on a hero’s journey. But the technology has evolved so far that it can allow a new generation of film-makers to bring these journeys to life in ways that were unthinkable before.”

Basil Iwanyk, producer of Clash of the Titans, agrees, and says that the intention with his film was to “marry old world David Lean-esque film-making with the visual effects seen in modern movies, so that the world is so intense and so specific that audiences can immerse themselves in it.” He also puts the sword’n'sandals resurgence into a historical and commercial context, saying that although the genre died out after the high-water mark of movies such as Ben Hur and Cleopatra, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in 2000 was a game-changer.

“When Gladiator was being made, it was seen as very brave,” Iwanyk says. “The subject had become one of the great Airplane jokes: ‘Do you like gladiator movies?’ But then the movie came out, and it was fantastic. Commercially, it opened up a lot of eyes in the studios. And in the film business, if one type of genre works then it has a knock-on effect.”

Movies such as Troy and Alexander followed. But the former performed less successfully than expected, and the latter was an outright disaster, the makers of both movies having failed to comprehend the secret to Gladiator’s success. The genius of Scott’s movie, Marshall says, was that it had played every single scene “straight down the line, and without a hint of camp”. Marshall, who agrees that it has been something of a “foot race” to get his Ninth Legion movie out before Macdonald’s, says that a lack of camp is essential to the modern-day depiction of the Ancient era.

Even 300, the thong-and-pecs party that bristled with homoerotic tension, never resorted to the ironic wink or the comedy nod. “On our set, of course, there were a lot of Life of Brian gags, and certainly when Dominic West walked on in his full costume someone did say, ‘He wanks as high as any man in Wome!’ But that just helps to get it out of your system, so there’s none of it left in the film itself.”

Iwanyk says that the producers and writers of Clash of the Titans went through their movie “over and over again, making sure there wasn’t anything goofy or that would make people roll their eyes. We didn’t want audiences laughing at our hero, Sam Worthington, who is a man’s man, because he’s wearing a skirt. Or that we’ve got men with beards and braided hair. Or even the fact that we have gods talking. So, yes, camp is a big thing we tried to avoid.”

Even Tapert, who previously worked on the high camp of Xena: Warrior Princess (his wife is the Xena star Lucy Lawless) and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, says that the mood had changed by the time Spartacus came along. “We wanted the characters to play it 100 per cent straight, and to allow the dramatic flourishes – the sex and the violence – to be the things that would provoke the audience. We never wanted to acknowledge to the audience that they are in on a joke, which we did periodically on Xena and Hercules.”

Tapert says that he is aware that the sex and violence in Spartacus – which runs the gamut, respectively, from orgies to on-screen dismemberment – is regarded as controversial. The British pressure group Mediawatch UK is so offended that it is trying to block Spartacus from reaching our TV screens. Tapert dismisses the group, saying that its members are using the show to “fuel their own popularity and promote their own agenda”. He says: “Although we’ve pushed the boundaries of what one would normally see on television, there are ancient plaques from the houses of prostitution in Pompeii that are also pretty explicit.”

And yet, there must be more to the rebirth of the sword’n'sandals era than special effects, heroic storytelling, stiff wrists and sex? Well, yes, and it’s called subtext, says Natalie Haynes, part-time Classical scholar and author of the forthcoming book The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. “The reason that we keep coming back to these stories and characters is partially because they are crisp and clear in dramatic terms,” she says. “But they are also sufficiently sparsely drawn for us to insert our own subtext.”

Such as? Centurion, for instance, depicts an imperial occupying army bogged down in guerrilla warfare in mountainous Scottish terrain not unlike a soggy Afghanistan. “This is a war without honour and a war without end,” muses Quintus Dias.

The parallels with modern warfare are deliberate, Marshall says. “I didn’t want to ram it down the audience’s throat, but the analogy is certainly there. I’m not trying to make a political film, but it’s obvious nonetheless.” Spartacus, too, Tapert says, through its depiction of a lusty Roman upper class, “is consistently and absolutely addressing ideas and social mores, such as homosexuality, that are pertinent to modern society.”

That is surely the key both to the genre’s power and its sudden resurgence in popularity. At a time when mainstream films address the issues of the day only with anodyne drivel such as the action-thriller Green Zone, it is up to the ancients to redress the balance. These tales explore urgent modern ideas about the end of empire, the effects of globalisation and the battle for natural resources that would be regarded as unseemly if delivered in a contemporary setting. It’s as if we can see ourselves clearly only by looking through an allegorical mirror that is 2,000 years old.

Haynes says that we are more like “them” now than we ever were. “At pretty much no point in history between then and now did things look so similar,” she says, referring to parallels in our societies, politics and cultures. “We are drawn to the ancients because they are exactly like us. And there is a temptation to be very grown-up about it, and say, ‘No! Now is now, and then was then’. But really, it’s just too tempting to pin the two together.”

Clash of the Titans is released on April 2

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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:07 pm

http://unnaturaleye.blogspot.com/2011/01/channing-tatum-is-no-michael-fassbender.html

Monday, January 31, 2011
Channing Tatum is No Michael Fassbender

So I finally saw a preview for the new film The Eagle and discovered it was pretty much The Centurion. In Centurion, Michael Fassbender plays a member of the 9th legion that gets wiped out Picts. Fassbender and other struggle to get back to the Roman border while being hunted by a group of Picts. In The Eagle, Tatum plays the son a member of the 9th legion who goes into Pict territory to recover the eagle standard of the 9th and redeem the legion's name. OK, regardless of the similarities The Eagle looks pretty badass.

at 10:00 AM
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:32 pm

http://freegamecreators.blogspot.com/2011/01/swords-and-sandals-goes-epic.html

Sunday, January 30, 2011
Swords and Sandals Goes Epic
By Matt Branson

Somewhere in the North of Britain, AD117. A rain-sodden band of Roman soldiers from the infamous Ninth Legion bemoan their lot while keeping guard at midnight in a fort. It's the start of Neil Marshall's Ancient-era action movie Centurion, and the hero, Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) grumbles, "I know this enemy well. They will not be drawn into open combat. This is a new kind of war!"

Suddenly, the soldiers are snapped to attention by a noise from the darkness outside. It could be the dreaded savages from the local Pict tribes. It could be a Boadicea-style female assassin who is lurking in the shadows. Or it could, given the right timings and locations, be the sound of the cast and crew from another competing Ninth Legion movie, which is gaining ground near by. This one is called Eagle of the Ninth, and stars Jamie Bell, is directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), and is coming soon to a sword'n'sandals-filled cinema near you.

There has never been a better time to make a movie set in the Ancient era. Besides these two high-profile Ninth Legion films, we are also about to witness a big-budget Clash of the Titans remake that features Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and $100 million worth of special effects. We've already had the Greek gods and teen heroes in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Mickey Rourke, meanwhile, is starring in Dawn of War, a mortals-versus-gods adventure from the director Tarsem Singh (The Fall). Plus, the TV series Rome is being revamped for the big screen, and the hottest story in US TV right now is the explicit raunch and violence in the Gladiator-inspired series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

So what's behind this resurgence? And why is it happening now? And what, for that matter, have the Romans ever really done for us? They've given us great stories, says Spartacus's executive producer, Robert Tapert, who sees the renewed interest in all things Ancient as a timely confluence of primal storytelling archetypes and movie-making technology. "What all these stories have in common is a great heroic central figure who sets out on a hero's journey. But the technology has evolved so far that it can allow a new generation of film-makers to bring these journeys to life in ways that were unthinkable before."

Basil Iwanyk, producer of Clash of the Titans, agrees, and says that the intention with his film was to "marry old world David Lean-esque film-making with the visual effects seen in modern movies, so that the world is so intense and so specific that audiences can immerse themselves in it." He also puts the sword'n'sandals resurgence into a historical and commercial context, saying that although the genre died out after the high-water mark of movies such as Ben Hur and Cleopatra, Ridley Scott's Gladiator in 2000 was a game-changer.

"When Gladiator was being made, it was seen as very brave," Iwanyk says. "The subject had become one of the great Airplane jokes: 'Do you like gladiator movies?' But then the movie came out, and it was fantastic. Commercially, it opened up a lot of eyes in the studios. And in the film business, if one type of genre works then it has a knock-on effect."

Movies such as Troy and Alexander followed. But the former performed less successfully than expected, and the latter was an outright disaster, the makers of both movies having failed to comprehend the secret to Gladiator's success. The genius of Scott's movie, Marshall says, was that it had played every single scene "straight down the line, and without a hint of camp". Marshall, who agrees that it has been something of a "foot race" to get his Ninth Legion movie out before Macdonald's, says that a lack of camp is essential to the modern-day depiction of the Ancient era.

Even 300, the thong-and-pecs party that bristled with homoerotic tension, never resorted to the ironic wink or the comedy nod. "On our set, of course, there were a lot of Life of Brian gags, and certainly when Dominic West walked on in his full costume someone did say, 'He wanks as high as any man in Wome!' But that just helps to get it out of your system, so there's none of it left in the film itself."

Iwanyk says that the producers and writers of Clash of the Titans went through their movie "over and over again, making sure there wasn't anything goofy or that would make people roll their eyes. We didn't want audiences laughing at our hero, Sam Worthington, who is a man's man, because he's wearing a skirt. Or that we've got men with beards and braided hair. Or even the fact that we have gods talking. So, yes, camp is a big thing we tried to avoid."

Even Tapert, who previously worked on the high camp of Xena: Warrior Princess (his wife is the Xena star Lucy Lawless) and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, says that the mood had changed by the time Spartacus came along. "We wanted the characters to play it 100 per cent straight, and to allow the dramatic flourishes - the sex and the violence - to be the things that would provoke the audience. We never wanted to acknowledge to the audience that they are in on a joke, which we did periodically on Xena and Hercules."

Tapert says that he is aware that the sex and violence in Spartacus - which runs the gamut, respectively, from orgies to on-screen dismemberment - is regarded as controversial. The British pressure group Mediawatch UK is so offended that it is trying to block Spartacus from reaching our TV screens. Tapert dismisses the group, saying that its members are using the show to "fuel their own popularity and promote their own agenda". He says: "Although we've pushed the boundaries of what one would normally see on television, there are ancient plaques from the houses of prostitution in Pompeii that are also pretty explicit."

And yet, there must be more to the rebirth of the sword'n'sandals era than special effects, heroic storytelling, stiff wrists and sex? Well, yes, and it's called subtext, says Natalie Haynes, part-time Classical scholar and author of the forthcoming book The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. "The reason that we keep coming back to these stories and characters is partially because they are crisp and clear in dramatic terms," she says. "But they are also sufficiently sparsely drawn for us to insert our own subtext."

Such as? Centurion, for instance, depicts an imperial occupying army bogged down in guerrilla warfare in mountainous Scottish terrain not unlike a soggy Afghanistan. "This is a war without honour and a war without end," muses Quintus Dias.

The parallels with modern warfare are deliberate, Marshall says. "I didn't want to ram it down the audience's throat, but the analogy is certainly there. I'm not trying to make a political film, but it's obvious nonetheless." Spartacus, too, Tapert says, through its depiction of a lusty Roman upper class, "is consistently and absolutely addressing ideas and social mores, such as homosexuality, that are pertinent to modern society."

That is surely the key both to the genre's power and its sudden resurgence in popularity. At a time when mainstream films address the issues of the day only with anodyne drivel such as the action-thriller Green Zone, it is up to the ancients to redress the balance. These tales explore urgent modern ideas about the end of empire, the effects of globalisation and the battle for natural resources that would be regarded as unseemly if delivered in a contemporary setting. It's as if we can see ourselves clearly only by looking through an allegorical mirror that is 2,000 years old.

Haynes says that we are more like "them" now than we ever were. "At pretty much no point in history between then and now did things look so similar," she says, referring to parallels in our societies, politics and cultures. "We are drawn to the ancients because they are exactly like us. And there is a temptation to be very grown-up about it, and say, 'No! Now is now, and then was then'. But really, it's just too tempting to pin the two together."

Clash of the Titans is released on April 2
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Re: Sword and Sandals Coming Your Way

Post by Admin on Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:13 am

http://allaboutwarmovies.com/2011/02/15/war-movies-set-during-the-roman-empire-a-list/

War Movies Set During the Roman Empire: A List

February 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm

It’s time once more for a little list. This time it’s a topic that I’m not only quite familiar with but also a topic that I enjoy a lot.

From a purist point of view the movies on this list are not strictly speaking war movies but I have decided a while back that there is not much fun in being a purist. The only movie on the list that I have reviewed so far is Centurion. But reviews for Rome, Gladiator and King Arthur are upcoming. King Arthur is one of my favourite movies of all time although it is not on my Top 10 War Movies list because, despite what I just said, the list is reserved for “proper” war movies. I equally like Gladiator a great deal but I wasn’t impressed with Centurion. Not at all. I haven’t seen The Last Legion but have a feeling it it is the weakest movie on this list.

* Ben Hur (USA 1959) directed by William Wyler, starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet, Martha Scott
* Spartacus (USA 1960) directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton
* Cleopatra (USA 1963) directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, George Cole
* The Fall of the Roman Empire (USA 1964) directed by Anthony Mann, starring Alec Guinness, Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Christopher Plummer, Omar Sharif
* Gladiator (GBR/ USA 2000) directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed
* Imperium: Augustus (GE/ITA/ FRA/ ESP/ AUT/ GBR 2003 TV) dirceted by Roger Young, starring Peter O’Toole, Charlotte Rampling, Vittoria Belvedere, Benjamin Sadler
* King Arthur (USA 2004) directed by Antoine Fuqua, starring Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Til Schweiger, Ioan Gruffudd, Ray Winstone, Ray Stevenson
* Rome (USA/ GBR 2005, TV series) directed by Carl Franklin, John Maybury and others, starring Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson
* The Last Legion (USA/ GBR/ FRA 2007) directed by Doug Lefler, starring Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Thomas Sangster
* Centurion (GBR 2010) diercted by Neil Marshal, starring Michael Fassbender, Andreas Wisniewski, Dave Legeno, JJ Feild (here is my review of Centurion)
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