1. Nero's parents call him "Nero" when he is a very young boy, but his birth name was Lucius Domitius, and he didnt style himself "Nero" until he was adopted by the Emperor Claudius.
2. In this film, Nero appears to come of age during the reign of the Emperor Caligula (who is called "Caligula" throughout the film, but was always referred to by his real name, Gaius, during his reign.) Problem is, Nero was only three years old when Gaius was assasinated. Gaius only ruled for four years, but the film makes it seem like his reign was much longer.
3. On the other hand, the reign of Claudius which followed lasted for 13 years, yet seems to be severely truncated in this film. Nero doesnt age at all during the reign of Claudius. In fact, Nero was only 16 years old when he became Emperor.
4. Nero simply stops aging at some point in this film. He rules for fourteen years but does not seem to age a day. Did this film even consult a makeup artist?
5. The plot to replace Nero with General Galba seems to be lifted straight out of Quo Vadis. Actually, several Roman generals revolted against Nero's rule at about the same time, and Galba was merely the first to reach Rome to take the Purple. His reign lasted less than half a year.
There is much, much more. Needless to say there is very little to recommend this film. I haven't watched Augustus yet, but if it's by the same people who made this waste of time, I probably wont waste my time."
As the Empire Turns
Moldyoldie | Motown, USA | 02/13/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This made-for-television production of Nero is certainly one of the most turgid and dour affairs I've come across in the genre. There's death and deceit at nearly every turn with nary a hint of the imperial grandeur and subtle humor that marked much of its sister production Augustus with Peter O'Toole and Charlotte Rampling. In my Amazon review of the latter, I wrote: "I come to any filmed historical drama with a sense that the actual history will always be "bent" to fit the narrative point-of-view, so any omissions or embellishments of fact and character don't bother me unless they are egregious enough to ruin the entire enterprise". I also wrote that Augustus was "worthy of comparison to [the BBC production of] I, Claudius but certainly not its equal". Nero attempts no such high pretensions. Instead, we get a flagrantly revisionist story of ill-fated romance and heavy-handed intrigues with spatterings of historical references and ultimately a denouement of Christian apologia that seems an afterthought rather than part of the fabric of the scenario. We're actually asked to feel sorry for and even "forgive" one whose reputation is that of being among history's most contemptible tyrants. I suppose it's an interesting twist on conventional notions of who Nero actually was, if only we could be made to believe half of what's put forth here!
In this teleplay, Nero's (Hans Matheson) love interest from his youth, a lovely and angelic slave by the name of Acte (Rike Schmid), eventually identifies and becomes enmeshed with the Roman Christians who include Paul of Tarsus. The irony is thick, but contemporary history is not entirely clear on Nero's relationship with the early Christians in Rome. The depiction of how Acte and Nero first come to know each other is best left for reconciliation with the film's writers since it defies written history. The child Nero's father is shown to be assassinated by order of the mad emperor Caligula while his mother Agrippina the Younger is seized and exiled. While Agrippina's exile is believed to be true, the favorable characterization of the father and the depiction of his demise is pure fabrication. Nero is spared and shown as being made a ward of Caligula's court, but also made to live among Acte's slave family and reaching young manhood among them. While the young adult Acte has a very compelling presence and is an actual figure in history (she's found in the writings of Tacitus), she unfortunately is made a prominent female in this slice of made-up history that also includes the more notorious likes of Nero's conniving mother (returned from exile by emperor Claudius) and his second wife, the sultry and seductive Poppaea. Being a slave, Acte is only allowed to be a concubine of the patrician Nero; though this, too, is eventually worked around by the scenarists. Methinks this mostly anecdotal dewy-eyed romance was chosen as the driving force and connecting thread of the narrative for the same reason James Cameron made a similar decision for his film Titantic; i.e., a nod to all class-conscious teenage romantics in the audience!
The tragic romantic ending is also pure fabrication. A previous reviewer suggests that we're made to believe Nero wasn't the innate tyrant history makes him out to be, but instead suffered from nothing more nefarious than a broken heart. It's a speculative way to help explain motivations behind certain of his more disreputable actions, but the lack of gravitas in the drama and lead performances precludes any sense of historical efficacy, something for which Roman history buffs watch these films! What's perhaps also disturbing to history buffs is that no attempts are made to bring events and characters into chronological focus. Historical timelines are purposely compressed; hence, on a subliminal level, events don't quite logically add up. I'm sure running time and budgetary constraints had as much to do with this as anything else.
Among those events inexorably tied to Nero's legacy, the persecution of the Christians is depicted in one brief harrowing scene. The cause of the persecution is not what you may surmise, however! The famous burning of Rome and Nero's detached panoramic view of it are well-staged. The cause and effect of the fire are also handled more sensibly than is usual in movies. However, there are no battle scenes (Nero's reign was relatively peaceful on the frontier. Civil war commenced only upon his death with no viable heir to the throne) and the one gladiatorial scene in the arena is actually quite tame. (The DVD cover art shows a lion in the arena, but neither animals nor Christians are harmed, or even shown, in the making of this arena scene!)
From a technical standpoint, most of the shots and scenes are well-staged with a fine sense of composition, blocking, lighting, and costuming. The same was true of Augustus, in which it seemed many of the same sets were used. However, pursuant to my opening comment of this being a dour affair, many of the interiors during the second half of Nero are purposely underlit, supposedly to convey the dark changes and tortured meanderings within Nero's mind and soul. This is severely overdone, almost to the point of exhaustion as the scenes lengthen, the pace slackens, and our interest wanes. A more accomplished lead actor and director might have been able to pull this off more effectively.
Overall, Nero allows its protagonist to be a sober, sensitive, and troubled young individual as opposed to the entertainingly hambone performances put forth by the likes of Peter Ustinov in Quo Vadis? and Charles Laughton in The Sign of the Cross. Unfortunately, a "straight" Nero is also a dull Nero. Also for those who enjoyed Quo Vadis?, a notable absence from Nero's court is that of the poet Petronius. Instead, the noted stoic philosopher Seneca is used prominantly as Nero's more learned foil. The early Christian angle is much better handled in the dramatically superior television mini-series A.D.
In Nero, I believe the producers wished to present something historically-based, speculative, and sympathetic to its subject; but unlike with Augustus, ultimately comes up short on the viability and entertainment fronts. Hence, Nero is a two-star guilty pleasure with a gesture to the commandments: "Thou shalt not bore" and "Thou shalt not infuse ancient history with excess sap". "
Entertaining Piece Of Historical Fiction About One Of Ancien
Simon Davis | 11/26/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Being a long time student of Ancient Roman history I was greatly looking forward to this screen depiction of the life of the Emperor Nero, one of Rome's most controversial Emperors famed for his persecution of the Christians and the cold blooded murder of most of his own family. It mystifies me as to why the film makers took the direction they did in depicting Nero as an innocent victim of his surroundings and upbringing when in actual fact the real Nero was far from ever being that. Perhaps in these "revisionist", times it isn't considered fashionable to show a famous, or in Nero's case I should say "infamous", figure as completely without some redeeming characteristics? It is hard to tell but I believe what would have been far more interesting to see would have been a cinematic study of the "real", Nero, complex and gruesomely fascinating character that he was, who rather than being a victim of circumstances was actually someone who struck terror into everyone close to him and who was solely responsible for the cold blooded murder of totally innocent family members, senators and most famously of all the early Christians, during his reign as Rome's fifth Emperor.
All the above is not to say that this production of "Nero", is not an interesting film to watch. Quite the opposite actually and if the viewer examines the film in the knowledge that it is above all else well constructed historical fiction it actually can be seen as a first rate production in regards to solid performances, excellent costumes and authentic historical settings that reveal a great deal of care and attention to detail being put into its planning. However for any individual with a good knowledge of Nero's reign and the personalities that inhabited it, viewing this production of "Nero", can easily become an extremely frustrating viewing experience as one piece of historical fantasy follows another.
Nero - for romance lovers
Mark | Colorado | 09/15/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Here's a quick guide for fans of ancient Rome.
If you like action sagas ("Gladiator" or "Ben Hur"), you won't like this. It's long, drawn out, and the action is minimal. There are no battles.
If you like somewhat historically accurate accounts ("I, Claudius"), you won't like this either. It's not chronologically accurate and the writer takes a lot of dramatic liberties with character motivations.
If you like titillating adventures exploring the debauchery and wild-side of ancient Rome ("Caligula" or HBO's "Rome") you really won't like this. There is little blood, the few murders are quick and clean, and you'll see more sex on network TV.
However, if you like long, slow, romantic movies where an all-encompassing love story is fabricated from little historical evidence and made into the primary driving force in Nero's life (even more so than his mother's influence), this is the movie for you! This movie largely ignores the juicy bits of Nero's life and turns him into some lovesick sap that gets all weepy because he can't have his true love.
I swear...if I ever have to endure one more 5 minute long scene of Nero and Acte (his love) gazing longingly into one another's eyes telling each other how heartbroken they are, I will start looking for a sword to fall on. Don't be fooled by the reputation of historical Nero in regards to this movie. This movie should have aired on The Lifetime Channel. "
The Acte Show
J Bosworth | CA | 12/15/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen a lot of Neros, he is usually portrayed as the pouty little Ack Tor with anger management issues as in Quo Vadis, but I have to say, this movie presents him in a whole new light, bit player in a really bad story of Acte. If you're looking for a movie with a decent portrayal of Nero that takes into account all the evidence available and from there, attempts to build as accurate and equitable a depiction as we can expect nearly 2,000 years later, it hasn't been made yet. If you're looking for a film about how an imperial freedwoman probably never acted, this is it. This little flick is so far off the mark, one could quite feasibly consider it a comedy, a Saturday Night Live take on ancient Rome.
Some of the historical inaccuracies that had me rolling: Senators in Birkenstocks and Nike tube socks? Senators wore half-boots, Bagely Mischka did not design Poppaea's clothes, and Martha Stewart 700 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets are a realatively new thing, if I'm not mistaken. But I could have lived with all that if not for the gross historical inaccuracies. At the time of Agrippina's first exile, Nero was a toddler. Ahenobarbus died of gout in a quiet little villa in the Campania region, not murder in front of tiny little Nero who, had Ahenobarbus truly died before Agrippina's exile, would have been all of three. Agrippina's second exile ended in 49, making Nero 11 years old as he was born in late December and not yet 12 at the time of her recall. This would make Acte a pervert, even by ancient Roman standards. Acte the christian? That's about as likely as Seneca getting his philosophical ideas from Paul of Tarsus. I won't even go into detail about the terrible portrayal of Claudius, but I gotta say, I about fell out of my chair laughing with the, "I'm a cripple, not spineless," line. All in all, what came to mind while watching this movie is that the guys at the BBC need to turn off the Oxygen Network and crack a history book."