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The History Channel Presents Julius Caesar's Rome
The History Channel Presents Julius Caesar's Rome
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2005     5hr 22min

Throughout history, civilizations have come and gone, but few have altered the world as immensely as the Roman Empire. From its legendary founding by Romulus and Remus to its magnificent takeover of the Mediterranean to it...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 07/26/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 5hr 22min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

....deceptive packaging???
G. Thomas | 09/15/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I am a real Roman Empire History buff and was jazzed at the idea of a new video documentary on the topic. There are two discs. The first includes the Julius Caesar bio and the story of Antony and Cleopatra. They aren't bad despite the fact the latter is given a bit of "hollywood treatment". I guess it's the History Channel getting ready for prime time. It's the second disk I have a problem with. It uses the programs from the Discovery Channel Documentary distributed by Questar Video afew years ago. That's four of the six programs in the set. So if you own the Questar set, like I do, you already have these programs. The History Channel set gives no indication of the prior packaging under Questar. That's a bit deceptive in my opinion. Be warned!!"
This A&E Production Has *NO* Connection with the Questar's R
Marc Schwarz, Ph.D. | New York, NY | 01/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This History Channel production, narrated by Joe Montagna, is copyright 2005 and was first broadcast on the History Channel during the Fall 2005 sweeps.

This production is not intended to be a scholarly treatise on the Rise & Fall of the Roman Empire. It is an entertaining introduction to a very BIG topic that is complex in both its depth and breadth. The History Channel production is fairly historically accurate in terms of the topics it covers, and does not appear to have egregious errors, which certainly cannot be said for the Questar Production, Rome: Power & Glory.

The two other reviews for this product appear to be confusing this History Channel / A&E Television Network production with Rome: Power & Glory from Questar that was narrated by Peter Coyote and broadcast on The Learning Channel in 1997."
Getting your aqueducts in a row
Holy Olio | Grand Rapids, MI USA | 04/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This two disk set is (in my view) in reverse order. The basic outline of Roman history is found on disk two, and that's a good place to start, particularly parents who buy this for their children to watch. The first disk has an episode on Julius Caesar -- what appears to be one of the old A&E Biography broadcasts -- and an episode on Anthony and Cleo.

This set has the virtue of portraying Cleo pretty accurately, and that's refreshing. There have been recent attempts to transform ancient female despots into modern feminist icons, and in the case of Cleopatra it has been especially inaccurate, misguided, and wrongheaded. Cleopatra was set on her throne, and kept there, by Roman power, and by her involvement with the losing side in the Roman civil war she lost everything. About the only criticism I have is that Cleopatra is mentioned a little too often.

The choice of Joe Mantegna as the narrator was excellent, although he persistently pronounced "consul" as "council", and tetrarchy as "tet-tree-archee". Mantegna did a great job otherwise. Of course, his performance was tempered somewhat by the script.

The script misuses the term "codependent" by claiming that the Emperor Claudius was "codependent" on drinking and gambling. Codependence is a condition existing between two people. At one point came the line, "Augustus may have invented the term dysfunctional family" (no, he didn't).

The script has some specious references to modern politics, such as referring to the Augustus-era morals laws as a "family values plan", and refers to Roman armies as "soldiers of fortune". There's an obnoxious reference to the Emperor Constantine having been "backed by his Christian Coalition". One of the British talking heads refers to the Emperor Justinian's wife Theodora as "the Nancy Reagan" of his "administration", and speaks of "the Oval Office of the Eastern empire". Nancy Reagan wasn't "the power behind the throne", but I suppose that interpretation persists in the UK because of the long reign by their own figurehead queen.

The same talking head gives a free pass to Nero, who was a vicious murderer and incompetent egomaniac -- just as he is generally portrayed. Other aristocrats are heaped with abuse by the same guy. That was just silly, and should have been edited out. When the only good thing that can be said about Nero is that he had his own mother (Caligula's sister, and ex-wife of her own uncle) executed, that should tell you all you need to know about him.

Based on an anecdote, it is claimed that the Emperor Justinian owed the final 50 years of rule to Theodora, who purportedly convinced him to stand and fight (and slaughter thousands) in the denouement of the infamous chariot race riots in Constantinople. I regard this as more politically correct nonsense, appearing as it does among other such rubbish. Also in this category is the claim that adulterous women sent into exile were being singled out for being dangerous. That's only true in the context of venereal diseases. Women who were poisoners (and therefore dangerous) often wound up executed, not exiled.

Other oddities include the term "Imperial Roman Empire", which is used to set up the use of "Imperial Roman Republic". While that suggests that the empire preceded the emperor, which is correct, it would make more sense to just come right out and say that, and then drop these silly terms. There's a wacky reference to "27 fatal blows" to Caesar. There's a claim that "Julius" was Caesar's first name (it was Gaius).

The republic never fell in the first place -- over time, the senate became more representative of the people as the demographics of the empire changed due to conquests of everything from Scotland to Arabia. This change led to resentment by the aristocracy, which owed its position to having been born. The emperor is analogous to, and the root of, the US presidency; the Roman state's separation of powers arose through trial and error (and civil war, and other mayhem) but there wasn't a time when the senate vanished. Adherence to the view that the senate before Julius Caesar was somehow a democratic institution is obnoxiously elitist. And clinging like a dingleberry to the nobility of a group of senators who -- in the Senate chamber -- stabbed to death a legally appointed chief executive is even worse.

If anything, Julius Caesar was too lenient. No mention is made of the patrician plundering and land-stealing from soldiers who were out serving in Roman armies -- the very origin of the practice and popularity of land grants for the veterans. No mention is made of earlier politicians, the Gracchi, who were killed or ostracized for objecting to this and other aristocratic misconduct and crimes.

Roman expansion came about in response to early barbarian invasions, including a Gallic invasion in which Rome itself was sacked, and to wars by and with neighboring city-states which controlled all the smaller towns in their small empires. The Punic wars resulted from conflicts over colonial holdings with which Carthage tried to control trade. Carthage had earlier forced out fellow Phoenician city-states, as well as the Greeks.

In the finale, Islam is grouped with Judaism and Christianity as part of the legacy of the Roman Empire. Rabbinical Judaism rose to greater importance because the Romans destroyed the Temple; Christianity is an outgrowth of Judaism; Islam was and is the enemy of both, and indeed of all other religions and political systems (particularly democracy) and became one of the influences which led to the final destruction of the remnant of the Eastern Roman empire by the Turks. Claiming otherwise as this script does is ridiculous.

Still, with these provisos, worth buying."
A good collection of Rome TV documentaries for the money
S. Florio | 09/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The largest portion of this DVD set consists of four 45 minute episodes of "The Great Empire Rome" which was produced by A&E and presented by Joe Mantegna, all of which were on TV a few years ago. I would rate this series as slightly better than Rome Power and Glory becuase it relies pretty heavily on interviews with a number of British classical scholars who add a lot of interesting and authoritative commentary to Mantegna's dry recitation of the historical facts. It also includes an A&E Biography of Julius Caesar as well as a 90 minute piece on Caesar and Cleopatra which is pretty low budget but otherwise is well done. It's worth the money if you are already interested in the subject matter."