DVD Review: The Fall of the Roman Empire
Limited Collectors Edition

Fall of the Roman EmpireYou remember the story. Boy meets girl. Boy is slated to rule the empire. Boy loses both empire and girl. Boy kills her insane brother, rescues her from certain death, renounces the throne and escapes to live happily ever after while the empire collapses. Well, it’s not your typical love story.

The Fall of the Roman Empire is an action-packed epic tale, beautifully filmed, with lavish costumes, sets, and thousands of extras – the sort of grandiose undertaking which is now done using CGI. The funeral of Marcus Aurelius was one of the more impressive scenes, and the basis of the plot is the struggle to see who will succeed him. His son Commodus (Christopher Plummer) is an increasingly crazy but clever man who outmaneuvers Livius (Stephen Boyd), his competition for the throne, at every turn – in large part because Livius is the plodding, honorable, nice guy who can be relied upon to act a certain way. Lucilla (Sophia Loren) isn’t a pawn on the chessboard, she’s a real player in all the intrigue.

The action is continuous, and while enjoyable, some of it seems pointless – the chariot race was a pleasure to watch but didn’t move the plot forward. Still, the movie progresses steadily toward the inevitable, and the journey is captivating. The battle scenes were very well done, and considering that this movie lacked all of the technological tricks of today’s epic films, the film is truly phenomenal. For fans of the movie Gladiator, The Fall of the Roman Empire is a must-see.

The classic epic film has been digitally remastered, so the picture and sound quality are excellent. In the Limited Collectors Edition, the DVD comes as a boxed set with a 28 page booklet (a reproduction of the original 1964 souvenir program) with information on the making of the film, a synopsis, and plenty of stills. The set also includes 6 postcard sized stills.

The Fall of the Roman Empire


In appointing a successor to his throne, the Emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, chooses his adopted son Livius over his own son, Commodus. Prior to Livius’ coronation, Commodus murders his father and proclaims himself the new emperor, prompting an epic reign of terror and corruption. His brutish tyranny alienates his brother, and the power struggle between Commodus and Livius culminates in the ultimate battle between the Barbarians and the Romans.

Special Features:

• Reproduction of Original 1961 Souvenir Program (Collector’s Edition Only)
• Six Color Production Stills (Collector’s Edition Only)
• Feature commentary by the producer’s son Bill Bronston and film expert Mel Martin
• Rome in Madrid Featurette
• Fall of the “Real” Roman Empire Featurette
• Making of Fall Of The Roman Empire featurette
• Hollywood Vs. History featurette
• Encyclopedia Britannica On The Roman Empire – 5 featurettes (Collector’s Edition Only)
• Original Theatrical Trailer

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