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Anthony Mann - The Fall of the Roman Empire and El Cid


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#1 Izo

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 01:18 PM

I hope starting a topic isn't frowned upon from such a newbie, but these are a couple of movies I have desperately wanted to discuss since I first saw them when the Weinstein DVDs were first released. Critical consensus seems to indicate that El Cid is the superior of the two movies, and that Fall of the Roman Empire is crushed under its own grandeur, but I think the opposite is true. I really, really like El Cid, but the Ben Huresque ending completely destroys a lot of what was built up for the previous three hours..

My original thoughts when I first saw the films:

Fall of the Roman Empire

With this film, Anthony Mann has officially become one of my favorite directors. I loved everything about this film (with the exception of a ridiculously weak lead performance) from Dmitri Tiomkin's great score (the man was a master film composer, and this was probably his last masterwork), to the great performances from Alec Guinness and Christopher Plummer, the action scenes, to the logic-defying direction of the thousands upon thousands of extras. With this film you really get a sense that a real Rome exists outside of the frame, something I can't say about any other epic film I've seen (Lord of the Rings excluded). The costumes are flawless, and the sets are absolutely jaw dropping. I could detect no green screen lines or anything similar that appears in a film like The Thief of Baghdad, which has a similar scope in its sets. They are meticulously detailed and seem never to end. The ending is absolutely flawless, and I've never seen a film of this kind end on such a defeated note...hell, characters even returned from the dead in Ben-Hur in order to give the film a happy ending. An epic like this can never achieve perfection - the scale is just too large for that - but this one is still a masterpiece.

I loved this film.

El Cid

Christ, Anthony Mann was one hell of a director. He had some of the best sense of shot composition that I've ever seen, every bit as good (but different altogether) as John Ford. Even his supposedly minor films, like the stellar noir Side Street or the mostly mediocre The Tin Star feature moments of absolute sublimely brutal beauty. As with his westerns, his two epic films - this and The Fall of the Roman Empire - that violent beauty is overflowing from every single frame. This is just an excellent film, even if I prefer ...Roman Empire in pretty much every way, it's just a matter of taste. The performances are better in this film, I'd say. Nobody could do a role this massive but Charlton Heston. When they tried, like Jeffrey Hunter in Nicholas Ray's King of Kings remake, they embarrassed themselves - though it doesn't help that Jeffrey Hunter was a completely utilitarian actor at his absolute best. Just a gorgeous film. Again, movies like this are on too great a scale to be perfect, but I don't think any two films could possibly come closer than Anthony Mann's epics.

#2 Ian

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 01:28 PM

I just picked up Fall of the Roman Empire a week ago. Haven't had a chance to view it yet. Will offer up a response and some comments when I do...

I'm hoping that both Fall of the Roman Empire and El Cid are rereleased through Criterion soonish. I've seen El Cid before, which was great. Anthony Mann, David Lean and Stanley Kubrick seem like the only three directors who ever managed to make those big screen hollywood action epics that don't stink.

#3 Izo

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 01:31 PM

Seems like the editions of both films are pretty good, did they go out of print?

I'm really pretty on the fence about Kubrick's Spartacus. I think it's mostly pretty mediocre with scenes and moments here and there of greatness.

#4 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 01:38 PM

I am a big Anthony Mann fan (Clyde got me into his movies) so I did appreciate El Cid. Charlton Heston was perfect in this film (with the possible exception of his relationship with Sophia Loren).

Ahh found it. Here is my old capsule review of this movie:

El Cid (1961: ***˝/****): While not perfect with plot or characterization, this is one of the most beautifully directed films I have seen this year. Anthony Mann's insistence on using real locations as much as possible have always helped the authenticity of his directed scenes (and he has said in an interview that it also helps the actors appear more natural). Charlton Heston plays the lead El Cid Campeador with the typical panache and testicular fortitude that he often brought to his roles (for an atypical performance many have mentioned Will Penny which I have on a short list of movies I want to see soon) and Sophia Loren looks as lovely as she ever has (in the extras it has been stated that the two did not get along and was the reason Charlton Heston did not work in the next Mann epic The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)).

Sometimes I felt there was a emotional disconnect with the story partially because of a weak performance by John Fraser as Prince Alfonso and a so-so one by Gary Raymond as Prince Sancho. Also with the anger between Heston and Loren several of there scenes were shot separately and felt like it.

Great use of extras (using the Spanish army) and is another film in the argument of the overuse of CGI in battle scenes.

But what a great ending.
----------------------------------

I have not yet seen Fall of the Roman Empire (though I do own it), thought from other posters here I haven't heard as great things about it especially because of the Stephen Boyd performance. It's length has also made me a bit hesitant to watch it anytime soon.

William Wyler can do a big screen epic just as well as those other directors :).
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#5 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 01:55 PM

Seems like the editions of both films are pretty good, did they go out of print?

I'm really pretty on the fence about Kubrick's Spartacus. I think it's mostly pretty mediocre with scenes and moments here and there of greatness.


Neither edition is OOP according to MMM.

I never really think of Spartacus as Kubrick's (neither did he :)).

Feel free to start topics if you want. The mods are active here and can always merge if the need arises. You don't seem new to forums anyways :).
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#6 Izo

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 02:12 PM

Muchos gracias.

I think you should really give Fall of the Roman Empire a chance sooner rather than later. As far as I'm concerned it blows El Cid out of the water, especially in the visual department. Major scenes tend to be staged a little more elaborately or theatrically. The final swordfight is a perfect example. The entire thing is staged in tha ring of shields, it's a very striking image.

I think Heston would have been all wrong as the lead in ...Empire. He's too forceful and the main character in that film is very passive. He is told that he will be Caesar and he doesn't want the job. Ridley Scott borrowed quite a bit from this film, actually. Particularly the first hour or so.

Being a huge western and film noir fan, I got to Mann late in the game. Over the last few years I've absolutely devoured anything I could get my hands on, and I've loved - to some degree at least - everything I've seen. Even very minor efforts like The Glenn Miller Story and Strategic Air Command have nice little moments.

#7 Ian

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 10:21 PM

Neither edition is OOP according to MMM.

I never really think of Spartacus as Kubrick's (neither did he :P).

Feel free to start topics if you want. The mods are active here and can always merge if the need arises. You don't seem new to forums anyways :P.


I think they stand a reasonable chance of being future Criterions. No, the DVDs are not out of print (yet) but there's some interesting things going on with the Weinstein library. The Weinstein's bought a controlling interest in Wellspring Entertainment and renamed the company Genius Products. Both the Weinstein Company and Genius struggled financially and Genius was bought out by Vivendi Entertainment in a hostile takeover last summer when both companies were on the verge of going under. The Weinstein company ceased distribution with Genius Products in September of 2009. In the interm they signed a deal with Universal to distribute Inglorious Bastards and only a week or two ago they announced that they would release films through Sony Pictures. Sony is licensing films from TWC in batches of 9. It's not an exclusive distribution agreement. The Weinsteins are on bad terms with Genius/Vivendi. They have a few more Dragon Dynasty titles still being released by Vivendi due to contractual obligations but they are already transferring some of the titles formerly distributed by Genius elsewhere. (In the press release issued by Sony, Rob Zombie's first Halloween film was mentioned for ex.)

They are free to license their films to any company, inc. Criterion. I could see them licensing some of their older catalog titles that their still holding from the Miramax days to Criterion, like Cinema Paradiso, the Bronston films etc. The existing dvds are pretty stacked but honestly I was a little disappointed with the supplementary material on El Cid. A lot of the features were focused on Bronston as a producer. It reminds me a bit of the disc the Weinstein's put together for the Beatles film A Hard Days Night, a totally loaded disc but a lot of the featurettes are focused in the wrong direction to the extent that even with ample supplementary material, it was somewhat unsatisfying.

It's totally possible that Sony will gobble these up but I think Sony is going to focus on the new releases/first run pictures. I don't think they're negotiating with the Weinstein's because they are dying to release El Cid once the distribution contract with Genius is up. They want Nine, Halloween, The Road, etc.

#8 Izo

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 02:13 PM

Tangentially related to this thread, but has anyone seen any of the other Sam Bronston-produced epics like Nicholas Ray's 55 Days in Peking or King of Kings, John Farrow's John Paul Jones, Henry Hathaway's Circus World?

#9 Duke Togo

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 06:44 PM

I've only seen 55 Days in Peking. It was pretty good, and Heston was fun, but my favorite performance would have to be Robert Helpmann (The Tales of Hoffmann, The Red Shoes) as the very flamboyantly portrayed Chinese Prince Tuan. This got me interested in the Boxer Rebellion, and there is actually a Shaw production about it titled, Boxer Rebellion by Chang Cheh. I will be picking that up eventually.

#10 clydefro

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:32 PM

When I saw 55 Days at Peking, Ava Gardner stood out and was about the only thing helping me keep my eyes open (though I was tired).

#11 Duke Togo

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 09:15 AM

I find Helpmann particularly striking no matter the film. Any time he enters the screen with that intense look on his face my interest is instantly rejuvenated. I agree about Ava Gardner though, I should have mentioned her. She had an interesting role and a mysterious agenda, that gave her character a lot of strength. The film is watchable, but that is about all I can say about it other than I think David Niven being more central than Heston helped my reaction a lot. This one might be for Mann/Heston/whoever completists only.

#12 Izo

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 10:42 AM

When I saw 55 Days at Peking, Ava Gardner stood out and was about the only thing helping me keep my eyes open (though I was tired).



That doesn't sound too promising. What about the Ray-directed King of Kings remake?

Are you generally not a fan of these types of films? What are your opinions of the two Mann epics?

How much of Quo Vadis did Mann direct? I seem to recall generally enjoying that film when I caught it on TCM a few years ago.

This could become an Epic Thread if you want, Togo.

#13 clydefro

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 11:04 AM

^ No I'm really almost allergic to epics. It comes down less to the length and scope of those types of films than what I perceive as substituting such things for the basic necessities of quality filmmaking. There are epics (Lawrence of Arabia most famously and Spartacus too) that have strong character development and writing that I do enjoy but generally I'd rather be watching something less obviously ambitious.

It's probably not too surprising then that I haven't taken the time to watch the other films you mention. The Mann-Bronston pair do interest me but they still aren't a priority. King of Kings and Run for Cover are the only two films credited to Nicholas Ray that I haven't seen. I dread the former and am still waiting to come across the latter.

About Quo Vadis, Jeanine Basinger's book says that Mann was assigned by MGM to work on it. He spent 24 nights on the production, filming the burning of Rome with the assistant photographer. Basinger calls this the best-directed sequence in the film.

#14 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 03:40 PM

I like epics (of course I like a lot of different type of cinema) and have enjoyed quite a many of them from many countries. Hong Kong is particually weak on this genre, but Mainland has had some great films usually dealing with the Chairman Mao era (Farewell My Concubine, To Live). I'm a big fan of Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, Gladiator, and Ben Hur.

I watched (and should have wrote about it at the time) The Fall of the Roman Empire not too-long-ago and found it one-lead performance short of a masterpiece. If only Boyd wasn't the lead :D (technically I'm a little suspect on Sophia Loren's acting ability here as well, but still nothing compared to my dissapointment with Boyd; on a side note I actually work with a Stephen Boyd as well). But it is an absolutely awesome and overly-grandiose in its location, set design (much not even filmed), direction, secondary performances and story. What a way to burn money :D (my name is Samuel Bronston and I'm a spendthrift). I don't think I've seen James Mason perform as well as his role here. It must have been quite extraordinary to see this in 70mm.

I easily recommend this movie to fans of Mann.

Found this quote from IMDB (no idea how factual it is): "Stephen Boyd blamed the massive commercial failure of The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) for ruining his movie career."
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#15 Izo

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 04:47 PM

I like epics (of course I like a lot of different type of cinema) and have enjoyed quite a many of them from many countries. Hong Kong is particually weak on this genre, but Mainland has had some great films usually dealing with the Chairman Mao era (Farewell My Concubine, To Live). I'm a big fan of Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, Gladiator, and Ben Hur.

I watched (and should have wrote about it at the time) The Fall of the Roman Empire not too-long-ago and found it one-lead performance short of a masterpiece. If only Boyd wasn't the lead :D (technically I'm a little suspect on Sophia Loren's acting ability here as well, but still nothing compared to my dissapointment with Boyd; on a side note I actually work with a Stephen Boyd as well). But it is an absolutely awesome and overly-grandiose in its location, set design (much not even filmed), direction, secondary performances and story. What a way to burn money :D (my name is Samuel Bronston and I'm a spendthrift). I don't think I've seen James Mason perform as well as his role here. It must have been quite extraordinary to see this in 70mm.

I easily recommend this movie to fans of Mann.

Found this quote from IMDB (no idea how factual it is): "Stephen Boyd blamed the massive commercial failure of The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) for ruining his movie career."


I completely agree with you. I still think the film is a masterpiece, but Boyd's performance is undeniably horrendous. Truth be told, it's a part that seems difficult to cast. The usual suspects, Heston, Kirk Douglas, would be too forceful for the role.

On the opposite side, though, there are a bunch of really spectacular performances here, like James Mason, as you mentioned. Alec Guinness does great things with a small part, as well. The show-stealer for me, though, is Christopher Plummer, Mr. Sound of Music himself, who is absolutely magnetic in his conniving brat-turned-Emperor. It's fantastic acting from a great actor.

I love how downbeat the film is. It's called The Fall of the Roman Empire and it absolutely delivers where other films (including El Cid, which I think is excellent too, and I do like the ending) cheat. How rare for a major production like this to be so long and not have a traditionally happy ending. This is a film of losers and loss, and one that is as pictorially gorgeous as any other color film I can think of, and that's why it's in my top 100.

#16 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 05:09 PM

I completely agree with you. I still think the film is a masterpiece, but Boyd's performance is undeniably horrendous. Truth be told, it's a part that seems difficult to cast. The usual suspects, Heston, Kirk Douglas, would be too forceful for the role.

On the opposite side, though, there are a bunch of really spectacular performances here, like James Mason, as you mentioned. Alec Guinness does great things with a small part, as well. The show-stealer for me, though, is Christopher Plummer, Mr. Sound of Music himself, who is absolutely magnetic in his conniving brat-turned-Emperor. It's fantastic acting from a great actor.

I love how downbeat the film is. It's called The Fall of the Roman Empire and it absolutely delivers where other films (including El Cid, which I think is excellent too, and I do like the ending) cheat. How rare for a major production like this to be so long and not have a traditionally happy ending. This is a film of losers and loss, and one that is as pictorially gorgeous as any other color film I can think of, and that's why it's in my top 100.


Christopher Plummer is indeed quite excellent in his role as well. I liked Alec Guinness as well (I did notice a few detractors in reading reviews on this, but I disagree) in his role as Marcus Aurelius.

The ending fits quite well with the story (not all unhappy endings are good though :D), but at this time and with that budget it is an amazing gamble, though with history I don't know of any other ending they could have done, that of course did not pay off. I read in a few reviews that the US malaise after Kennedy's death still affected the populace.

Hmm, it seems that possibly Kirk Douglas regretted turning down this role. He apparently states this in "The Ragman's Son". Another book I need to get.
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1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

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#17 Izo

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 06:38 PM

Master, I meant to ask you how you think The Fall of the Roman Empire compares to El Cid, the general consensus is that El Cid is far superior, some even call it a masterpiece, but I think that The Fall of the Roman Empire is the masterpiece of the two. I think El Cid is a tremendous film, don't get me wrong, but The Fall of the Roman Empire is just so grand in every aspect and is full of so much detail and character depth (specifically in the minor characters, obviously) that it's really unsurpassed in the genre. Admittedly, no one else seems to think this. I've never been much for Ben Hur, mind, and I've never actually gotten around to any David Lean films.

#18 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 12:13 PM

Master, I meant to ask you how you think The Fall of the Roman Empire compares to El Cid, the general consensus is that El Cid is far superior, some even call it a masterpiece, but I think that The Fall of the Roman Empire is the masterpiece of the two. I think El Cid is a tremendous film, don't get me wrong, but The Fall of the Roman Empire is just so grand in every aspect and is full of so much detail and character depth (specifically in the minor characters, obviously) that it's really unsurpassed in the genre. Admittedly, no one else seems to think this. I've never been much for Ben Hur, mind, and I've never actually gotten around to any David Lean films.


First, I will have to state that I think the remake Ben Hur (1959) is a masterpiece while the 1925 version is still very good and is one of the best silent movie epics of its time (with complete disregard for extras lives).

Leonard Maltin actually prefers The Fall of the Roman Empire to El Cid (***˝ stars to ***). Ultimately I think I also agree with you and him. I like El Cid, prefer Charlton Heston as an actor to Boyd, but I currently favor (and I don't change my original opinion easily even over the years :D) The Fall of the Roman Empire. I wouldn't say it is unsurpassed in the genre of epics (you haven't seen Lawrence of Arabia) particularly because of Lean, my love of Ben Hur, several Chinese epics like To Live and possibly The Ten Commandments (the remake not the original).
Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

My HK movie reviews
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#19 Izo

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 03:49 PM

I haven't seen the silent Ben-Hur. Nor have I seen any DeMille, let along The Ten Commandments. I keep meaning to get around to Lawrence of Arabia, but other things catch my interest more.

Here's a question, though: what defines a film as being "epic"? It's a word that gets used and misused a lot, seemingly with a lot of different meanings attached to it. I've, for example, heard The Searchers referred to as an epic western numerous times. Is it a "know it when I see it" distinction? Does the title only pertain to sword-and-sandal flicks? Surely it doesn't have to do solely with length, does it? Finally, what are your favorite "epics", and how do you define the genre?

#20 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 03:57 PM

I haven't seen the silent Ben-Hur. Nor have I seen any DeMille, let along The Ten Commandments. I keep meaning to get around to Lawrence of Arabia, but other things catch my interest more.

Here's a question, though: what defines a film as being "epic"? It's a word that gets used and misused a lot, seemingly with a lot of different meanings attached to it. I've, for example, heard The Searchers referred to as an epic western numerous times. Is it a "know it when I see it" distinction? Does the title only pertain to sword-and-sandal flicks? Surely it doesn't have to do solely with length, does it? Finally, what are your favorite "epics", and how do you define the genre?


I was going to ask the same question first: How to define an "epic?" When we have an agreed definition I will name more :D.

I like this definition which I found on Wiki "...ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation." which is from Michael Meyer, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2005, p2128. Now the wiki entry deals with epic poetry, but I think that goes across to the cinema as well.

That is why I consider To Live, The Blue Kite and Farewell My Concubine to be epics because they cover "events significant to a culture or nation" even if it not necessarily heroic (but heroism helps).
Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

My HK movie reviews
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