18 November 2001 | dawidbleja
Somewhere between Pan Tadeusz, Przedwiosnie, and Ogniem i Mieczem
Inevitably, this film begs comparison to the three other recent Polish historical "super-productions", Ogniem i Mieczem, Pan Tadeusz, and Przedwiosnie. Quo Vadis isn't made with quite the elegance and visual grace of Pan Tadeusz, nor is it quite as dynamic and classy as Przedwiosnie, although it is elegant, visually graceful, and dynamic. It shares similarities, unfortunately, with Ogniem i Mieczem as well: at times it reverts to Hollywood-style kitsch, such as with close-ups that take themselves too seriously, and tacky, forced, over-dramatic music. However, these elements are both less frequent and less pronounced than in Ogniem i Mieczem; and - if you allow yourself to ignore them - are overpowered by many positive elements.
Boguslaw Linda is great as Petroniusz. This is, I think, one of his best roles for years, and he produces the grace and dignity of a Roman gentleman very well. Michal Bajor's characterisation of the naive, vain Nero, at once contemptible and likeable, was for me one of the nice surprises of the film.
The scene where lions tear Christians apart in the circus is shocking and heart-wrenching, and looks almost as realistic as I could imagine is possible. The famous scene where Ursus battles the bull in the circus is, if not as spectacular as the lions, similarly effective.
Not a masterpiece, but a very good film. 8/10