From the novel of the same name by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
A Roman general falls in love with a Christian slave and is eventually converted, all against the backdrop of Nero’s Rome.
I was traveling, as is my wont, and was listening to a great audiobook series from the Teaching Company about movies that take place in Ancient Rome and their historical accuracy; the presenter was a Classics professor, and he was funny and had a lot of interesting things to say, both about the movies and about the whole ‘Roman Spectacle’ genre of movies. This was one of the films he talked about; it started the whole genre in 1951.
I read the book many many years ago as a young Otter, and still remember that it was a thunderin’ good read…this movie? not as much, although it wasn’t bad…
Robert Taylor is the Roman commander, and it’s a toss-up whether he or a block of wood would be a more compelling hero…he’s very handsome, but rather stiff and unemotional. Deborah Kerr is beautiful and awesome as the Christian slave Lygia, but the cake is completely taken, eaten and owned by Peter Ustinov as Nero; not only is Ustinov an Otter Family Favorite Actor, but this role is campy and awful. Scenery is chewed with gusto.
This movie has huge sets, scenes with hundreds if not thousands of actors, chariot races, Rome burning, and lots of overacting. What’s not to like?
But read the book as well, it was great.