Ancient Rome at the Cinema
Story and Spectacle in Hollywood and Rome
Distributed for Liverpool University Press
Filmgoers have long embraced the storied performances, elaborate sets, and epic productions behind film recreations of ancient Rome. Using this fascination with the trappings of realism that fuels our love for historical films, Ancient Rome at the Cinema offers an engaging and lucid portrait of the worlds created in such Roman historical epics as Ben-Hur, Spartacus, Gladiator, and Fellini’s Satyricon. Covering both the commercial and the avant-garde, this volume demonstrates how cinematic versions of Ancient Rome have been able to captivate us, inscribing their versions of the city and its history onto our imagination. Though particular emphasis is placed on the tension between narrative and spectacle in these films, the author uses both film theory and criticism in order to examine the ways in which historical drama creates the past through storytelling and visual effects, culminating in an engaging historical analysis of the art form.
1. Narrative and Spectacle, Realism and Illusion, and the Historical Film
2. Ben-Hur: ‘Tale of the Christ’ or Tale of Rome?
3. Spartacus and the Politics of Story-Telling
4. The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Filmmaker as Historian
5. Gladiator: Making it New?
6. Fellini Satyricon: ‘Farewell to Antiquity’ or ‘Daily Life in Ancient Rome’?
7. Titus: Rome and the Penny Arcade
Further Reading and Viewing