I, Claudius (TV Mini-Series 1976)

TV Mini-Series   |  Not Rated   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


Episode Guide
I, Claudius (1976) Poster

The history of the Roman Empire as experienced by one of its rulers.

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8.8/10
13,918

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  • Sheila White in I, Claudius (1976)
  • Derek Jacobi and James Faulkner in I, Claudius (1976)
  • Derek Jacobi in I, Claudius (1976)
  • John Hurt and Derek Jacobi in I, Claudius (1976)
  • Brian Blessed and Siân Phillips in I, Claudius (1976)
  • George Baker in I, Claudius (1976)

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8 August 2006 | SMkShlds
10
| A few vital details
I won't add to the many superlatives ascribed to this wonderful series, well-deserved though they are. But I would like to point out a few vital details that help explain just why it is so wonderful.

(1) Much has been said about Siân Phillips' intense projection of evil, but just how does she do it? If you watch carefully, you'll see she never blinks in her close-up takes, some of which are very long. This gives her a snakelike appearance, which enhances her voice and cold beauty in imparting such an air of menace to everything she says.

(2) Much has also been said about the lack of expensive sets, location shots, or special effects. But the point is that this series is successful because of these apparent deficiencies and not despite them. So much modern cinema and TV is swamped by expensive irrelevances to the detriment of the basics -- writing, acting, and timing. 'I Claudius' shows just how important these things are, and how unimportant those expensive special effects can be.

(3) I had the good fortune to read both books before the series was made, and then to watch it with a critical eye. It was satisfying to see such an expert adaptation, but especially so to see how the central point of the story has not been lost: the inability of any ruler, however powerful, to control what happens at the end of the long chain of command that inevitably forms. I found this a message of lifelong importance in both politics and management, and it is rare indeed that such a remarkable piece of drama and entertainment is also so fundamentally educational.

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