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I, Claudius

A movie directed by Herbert Wise

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Is this the best TV series ever?

  • Sep 2, 2003
If you have any interest at all in Roman History at all, this is a DVD for you. If you have any interest in great acting, this is for you. If you love a fantastic story, with some of the most fascinating characters ever to hit the small screen, then do yourself a favour and buy this DVD. Nothing matches it.

The story follows the ancient Emperor Claudius's memoirs about his highly disfunctional family through the years from his birth to his near death. This is the time of the Emperors Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula - intense, brutal and treacherous, and yet at times genuinely funny and very sad. The sets seem primitive, and yet we are so drawn into the drama and intrigue of the characters that this is forgotten in a moment. This is absolutely fantastic drama - in my opinion nothing has been made since that can touch it for its sheer power and vibrancy.

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More I, Claudius reviews
review by . January 24, 2005
I never tire of watching this superbly acted and exciting program that is absolutely my favorite program I have ever seen on tv. Derek Jacobi is excellent as the meek, stuttering Claudius who lives through the reigns of 3 emperors while all those around him are either murdered or meet mysterious deaths. After his evil nephew Caligula is murdered, Claudius is pulled out of hiding by the Praetorian Guards and made the emperor.    Seeing it as a chance to restore the republic to …
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Lesley West ()
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About this movie


This superbly acted, mordantly funny romp through 70 years or so of Roman history is one of the best-loved miniseries ever made, and deservedly so. Derek Jacobi plays Roman Emperor Claudius, who reflects in old age on his life and his remarkable family, giving us a history lesson that's unlike anything you learned in school.

The story begins in 24 B.C. during the reign of Augustus Caesar, Rome's first emperor, and ends in A.D. 54 with Nero on the throne. In between, I, Claudius details the scheming, murder, madness, and lust that passed for politics in the early years of the Pax Romana. The biggest worm in the Roman apple is Augustus's wife, Livia (the superb Siân Phillips), whose single-minded pursuit of power shapes the destiny of the Empire. With a carefully planted rumor here and a poisoned fig there, she gradually maneuvers her son, Tiberius, toward the throne, creating an atmosphere of suspicion and treachery that starts Rome on its helter-skelter slide into bloody chaos. Phillips somehow makes us understand this extraordinarily wicked woman. As she ages and her carefully wrought webs begin to unravel, it becomes clear that Livia has been as thoroughly poisoned by her own ambition as her victims were by her carefully prepared meals.

Further acting honors go to George Baker as Tiberius, who resists but eventually succumbs to the destiny forced upon him by his mother, and to John Hurt as a hilarious and absolutely terrifying Caligula. In one ...

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Director: Herbert Wise
DVD Release Date: August 15, 2000
Runtime: 740 minutes
Studio: Image Entertainment
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