Search - Empires - The Roman Empire in the First Century on DVD

Empires - The Roman Empire in the First Century
Empires - The Roman Empire in the First Century
Actor: Sigourney Weaver
Genres: Documentary
NR     2002     3hr 39min

Two thousand years ago, at the dawn of the first century, the ancient world was ruled by Rome. Through the experiences, memories and writings of the people who lived it, this series tells the story of that time -- the empe...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Sigourney Weaver
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: PBS
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/16/2002
Original Release Date: 08/14/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 08/14/2001
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 3hr 39min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The reign of the caesars
Christopher W. Damico | NYC | 05/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Augustus was the big man. He ruled with an iron fist. The majority of his successors were failures. There is a story in the second chapter that is very interesting. It is the story of Sejanus. He was a political gangster who wielded power during the reign of the emperor Tiberius. I love to hear the stories of political intrigues during ancient history. The first chapter is good, but too much about some poet. Who cares about ancient poetry, I want more blood and guts stories. Another great story is of a General named Germanicus. He was like JFK. This dvd is worth a watch for sure if you like roman history."
Sigourney Weaver is the wrong narrator for this film!
Cynthia | Dallas, Texas USA | 03/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This was a casting error. Sigourney Weaver is an excellent actress. However, she does not have the strong voice needed to carry the weight of this empire. Although Roman women had a great deal of behind-the-scenes power, it was the men who physically built, protected, and maintained its existence. Somehow this is lost in the feminine voice. Liam Neeson was a superb choice to narrate "The Greeks." What happened?"
Respectful to a fault, with a concentration on emperors and
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 10/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This PBS-produced documentary, which surveys Rome in the First Century, runs 219 minutes in four parts. It is so calm, so respectful, so stately and so dull that it made me wonder if they really were talking about Rome.

The tales of the emperors, of course, range from greatness to pederasty, from the building of an intercontinental transportation system to wretched excess, from mutual murder to becoming gods. Rome also is the story of great poets, writers, historians, and builders. The documentary spends a lot of time reminding us of this with quotes read by actors with generically well-bred voices.

Even more important and interesting is why the Romans were able to create such an empire. What was the force behind a crummy little village on the Tiber winding up owning everything from England to Egypt? And who was responsible for the most impressive set of officer's uniforms until the Nazis?

Rome is the story not just of emperors and poets, but also of engineers and soldiers, of a great civil service and a slave economy, of an empire-wide free-trade zone and a universal set of laws. Rome might nail you to a cross, but in general if you didn't say bad things about the emperor-god you could believe in any other gods that took your fancy. Said Edward Gibbon, "The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman World, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord."

Little of this practical cynicism and do-the-job-right energy comes through in this documentary.

I have a great admiration for Sigourney Weaver as an actress, but her narration is simply too emotionless and too earnest. Does she have any more interest in first century Rome than most of us do? Probably not. She was hired to read the author's narration and she does with placid professionalism. The actors selected to voice the words of Ovid, Tacitus and the rest of the dead Romans bring even less moxie to the enterprise. Their voices are smooth, professional and uninteresting.

This documentary is well intentioned, probably more so than is good for it. If you must watch it for the facts, I'd advise that first you watch I, Claudius for the energy."