I confess, I have a weakness. That weakness is for sword-and-sandal epics. I can't help it. Wrap a bad actor in a long white crumpled sheet, and pretend he is a Roman in a toga (btw, who invented that garment? It seems cumbersome and with no utility whatsoever) and I will eat it up.
True, some of those S&S movies are better than the others (I think something like Spartacus or Ben-Hur are just good epicy movies period), but in some of them, I am all about the hot men with names ending in 'us,' sword-fights, chariot races, excess and directors drunk on a huge budget and going crazy with it. And some of the epics are flawed but with moments of insane brilliance (Mankiewitz's notorious Cleopatra is part over the top campiness of 3000 costumes and part dialogue of almost Shakespearean resonance).
I confess, this post was going to be about C.B. DeMille's campy and delicious Cleopatra starring Claudette Colbert. I had pictures ready and everything. But it's going to have to wait, because while googling I found out that the Poles did a miniseries of one of my Top 5 books of all time, book I devoured like a maniac, refusing to do anything, even eat, while it was in my grasp: Henryk Sienkewitz's Quo Vadis
. It's a complex, complicated, gorgeous, and well-researched story set in the reign of Nero, and involves Vincius, a young Roman nobleman and his love for Lygia, an adopted daughter of another family, and a Christian. ( Comments on QV )
The book has been translated into English repeatedly and Hollywood made a movie version of it in 1951. It's not a bad movie, but the spirit of the book is lost. For one thing, instead of a beautiful, pure young thing that Lygia is supposed to be, Deborah Kerr plays her as a Victorian schoolmarm. And the themes and complexity are gone. But Peter Ustinov as Nero and Leo Genn as Petronius (both oscar nommed for the roles) are brilliant. And while Robert Taylor's Vinicius is not much like the book one, he certainly looks gorgeous:
Well, I found out that the Poles made the miniseries based on the book and the stills look good and it's supposed to be REALLY faithful (OMG, Vinicius, jump into that stadium and pick up your gf's unconscious body. You know you want to) and thus I simply must get my hands on it.
Do me, Pagan Hottie! Yeah, I thought it wasn't what she said, but a girl can hope:( Pictures behind the cut )
For those of you, who like me can read Russian, there is an extra treat. Someone has the beginning text of the book
'illustrated' with the mini photos in the appropriate scenes.