Synopses & Reviews
Ancient Rome at the Cinema' is a lucid study of the worlds created in Roman historical epics. Based on analysis of the visual and narrative fabric of seven films set in Ancient Rome, 'Ancient Rome at the Cinema' demonstrates how cinematic versions of Ancient Rome have been able to captivate us, and inscribe their versions of the city and its history onto our imagination. Theodorakopoulos uses film theory and criticism to examine the ways in which historical drama creates the past through story-telling and visual effects. Particular emphasis is put on the tension between narrative and spectacle which is an inherent feature of cinema, and a long-standing preoccupation of film critics and theorists from the 1930s to the present. The book also examines the techniques and the rhetoric of realism which feature especially prominently in historical films. 'Ancient Rome at the Cinema' is a companion volume to 'Ancient Greece in Film and Popular Culture' by Gideon Nisbet (9781904675785, 2008, 2nd edition).
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 Fellinis 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.
About the Author
is a lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham. She has recently co-edited The Rhetoric of Advice in Greece and Rome (2007) with Diana Spencer and has written chapters for The Sites of Rome: Time, Space, Memory (2007), edited by D. Larmour and D. Spencer, and Blackwell Companion to Catullus (2007), edited by M. Skinner.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vi
1 Narrative and Spectacle, Realism and Illusion, and the Historical Film 9
2 Ben-Hur: 'Tale of the Christ' or Tale of Rome? 30
3 Spartacus and the Politics of Story-Telling 51
4 The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Filmmaker as Historian 77
5 Gladiator: Making it New? 96
6 Fellini Satyricon: 'Farewell to Antiquity' or 'Daily Life in Ancient Rome'? 122
7 Titus: Rome and the Penny Arcade 145
Further Reading and Viewing 186