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Visions of Rome on Screen

Rome has been portrayed in countless movies and television shows since the medium was invented. Sometimes it’s in an epic setting of grandeur, sometimes it’s for intense drama, and sometimes it’s just good old fashioned silliness. Here’s our list of ten excellent portrayals of Rome in the movies and on television.

Rome in the Movies

    • Gladiator (Movie)
      Rome-in-MoviesThis 2000 movie won Russell Crowe his first Academy Award for Best Actor, and also took home four more Oscars, including Best Picture. If you haven’t seen it, this grand vision from Ridley Scott is a truly epic masterpiece. You will be entertained.


    • Spartacus (Movie)
      The 1960 film Spartacus featured Kirk Douglass as Spartacus, and Laurence Olivier as Marcus Licinius Crassus, but it was Peter Ustinov who took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Though the movie was directed by Stanley Kubrick, many of his fans don’t consider it a true film of his, as he had distanced himself from it after it’s release. Despite his conflicting vision with Dalton Trumbo, the film’s writer, it was Spartacus that launched Kubrick into mainstream cinema as a major director.


    • Ben Hur (Movie)
      The epic production of Ben-Hur features a young Charlton Heston as the lead. He won the Oscar for Best Actor and the film won eleven more, including Best Director (William Wyler), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith), and Best Picture. It features one of the defining moments in mainstream cinema, the famous chariot race. There were no computers to help with the effects, so the scene took over three months to complete! Charlton Heston spent a month learning how to use the chariots and control the horses. There are also some very interesting technical specs regarding the film used, which you can read more about here.


    • Cleopatra (Movie)
      Filmed in 1963, Cleopatra follows the Queen of Egypt as she struggles to resist the ambitions of imperialist Rome. The movie nearly broke 20th Century Fox when what was budgeted as a $2 million dollar budget, skyrocketed to $44 million. The movie paired up Elizabeth Taylor with her future husband Richard Burton. They would later go on to star in 10 other films together, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


    • The Life of Brian (Movie)
      Monty Python fans will remember this movie fondly, however the clergy may not. At the time of its release the movie was deemed offensive due to the amount of religious satire and was banned in several countries. This caused the filmmakers to use the tagline “So funny, it was banned in Norway” in their marketing campaign. This movie probably would not have been made if it were not for George Harrison, who helped come up with the three million British pounds needed to make the film. He even has an uncredited cameo in the movie.


    • The Talented Mr. Ripley (Movie)
      There’s a lot of Italy in this 1999 thriller. The movie filmed in locations in Rome, Palermo, Venice, Naples, Grosetto, Salerno and more! This film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, 5 Golden Globes, and Jude Law took home the BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actor.


  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Movie)
  • Angels and Demons
    This one gets on because as 5in1 pointed out, Bill and Ted never went to ancient Rome. Whoops.

Rome Television Shows

    • Spartacus: Blood and Sand (TV)
      This television show premiered on Stars in 2010 and was well received by fans. Unfortunately, the actor playing the lead role (Andy Whitfield) passed away after a battle with cancer. Before he died he gave his blessing that the show continue on without him, and actor Liam McIntyre is slated to play Spartacus for season two of the show, titled Spartacus: Vengeance.


    • Rome (TV)
      Although Rome only aired for two seasons, it was critically acclaimed and praised for it’s historical accuracies. The show chronicles ancient Rome’s transition from a republic into the mighty empire. It is shown through they eyes of two soldiers, who just happen to have their day to day lives intertwined with key historical players and events. There is talk of a movie but as of now no studio has picked it up.


  • The Borgias (TV)
    Staring Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI, The Borgias was well received on Showtime, and is signed on for a second season. The show follows the Borgia family as they struggle with power in the Roman Catholic Church.

Coming Soon?
Rome Sweet Rome is an idea that was born on an internet message board. A Reddit user asked people on the popular social site if they thought it would be possible destroy the entire Roman Empire with a US Marine infantry battalion. The discussion began, and soon writer James Erwin found himself at the center of attention as he worked on the fascinating story of the time traveling battalion of roughly 2000 troops. The story was so good that it was picked up by Warner Brothers who are currently working with Erwin to develop a screenplay for the movie! It’s in the very early stages so it’s hard to say if and when it will happen, but hopefully it will be developed into a fantastic new production. We can’t wait. Keep up on the news on the official Rome Sweet Rome facebook page.

Remember, you can tour all these locations and see much more of Italy with a car rental in Rome.

Who did we leave out? Are you infuriated because of the lack of Angels and Demons? Should we have given Hannibal an honorable mention for being set partially in Florence? Let us know in the comments below!

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0 Responses to Visions of Rome on Screen

  1. Susan Oakes says:

    Hi Hans,

    I had forgotten some of these movies so thanks for the reminder especially The Life of Brian.

  2. Funny that you mentioned about Angels and Demons on the last part of your blog post. I was just about to ask that. Hahaha!!! Thanks for sharing this.

  3. tess says:

    Ummm… Roman Holiday! Classic.

  4. 5in1 says:

    Socrates was Greek which puts him in Greece during Bill an Ted.

  5. Joe says:

    I’ll second Tess’ recommendation of Roman Holiday. When I think of Rome, the first image in my head is of a young Hepburn on that Vespa.

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