Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Ancient World (3600 BC – 500 AD)

This was a difficult week. The only films I could come up with were either set in Rome or Greece or in the Middle East. But there are some gems set in this time.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at Wandering Through the Shelves

Its all about religion and science. Rachel Weisz is Hypathia, a Greek mathematician who teaches at the school for future leaders in Alexandria. But there is unrest when the Christians over throw the city. Hypathia's former slave and pupils have converted by she refuses and continues to study the movements of the Earth believing it to be round etc. Only saw it once but I remember thinking it was ok, but not much else.

The Prince of Egypt
I am always singing the songs from this film. They are deep and meaningful and the artwork of this film is so beautiful. I usually steer clear of Biblical stories and films but with music and amazing voices I could resist a version of Moses. After Pharaoh declares a culling of Hebrews, Moses mother saves him but putting him in a basket and in the river. He is found by Pharaoh's wife and he raised as one of the family. But when he grows up and learns his true heritage, Moses disappears into the desert. He starts a new life as a shepherd but this is where God asks him to save his people. Thus begins the story of Moses. He brings the plagues and the amazing parting of the sea is not to be missed.
 'Are you not entertained?' We all know the speeches and the long names. This is one of those films where you forget just how good it was. Ridley Scott was on top of the world with this one, as was Russell Crowe after the film came out. Story of about a Gladiator but its no Sparticus. The root of this film is jealousy. Maximus Decimus Meridius, loyal general to Marcus Aurelius is betrayed by his son Commodus who kills his family and send him off to be a slave, but Maximus rises up through the ranks of gladiators to reek revenge. I know Crowe is the star here but Joaquin Phoenix was also Oscar nominated for his role and he should have won. Three time Oscar/BAFTA nominee and no win? Why isn't there a campaigne for him to win? Brilliant actor.


  1. I love your last two picks! Prince of Egypt is one of my favorite cartoons. I'd like to watch Gladiator again. I haven't seen it in so long.

  2. Gladiator is a pretty popular pick this week. I love it that you chose Prince of Egypt over Exodus or Ten Commandments. It's a very great animation, and I love the story.

  3. Love Gladiator. It's all you say, a very involving film. I think Joaquin Phoenix will be a winner someday as long as he doesn't pull another stunt like the one he did a few years ago as the loony dropout.

    I so wanted to love Agora since I'm a huge fan of Rachel Weisz but I found it deadly dull.

    I'm not an animation guy and while I've seen bits of Prince of Egypt thanks to my nieces and nephews I've never watched the whole thing nor will I.

    I'll watch any film set in antiquity with high hopes which are sometimes realized and sometimes dashed but my favorite period are the big budget Biblical spectacles of the 50's which is where my three are pulled from.

    Quo Vadis? (1951)-Huge, impressive epic of Nero’s (Peter Ustinov) reign and his persecution of the Christians. Against the broader scale of the story (with amazing sets and a literal cast of thousands) is the tale of Roman general Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) who falls in love with the Christian Lygia (Deborah Kerr) and slowly adopts her religion, a very dangerous decision for the time. Vast in scope with pageantry and a human feel that can’t be replicated by CGI that thanks to the direction and performances, Leo Genn is particularly fine as Marcus’s Uncle Petronius, remains more accessible than many similar films of the period.

    Land of the Pharaohs (1955)-Hooty nonsense about the building of the Great Pyramid in ancient Egypt. Packed with quality British actors, including Jack Hawkins, James Robertson Justice and Sydney Chaplin, extravagantly playing to the back row and best of all (well most campily of all anyway) a young and very beautiful Joan Collins vamping it up as the pharaoh’s wife Nellifer. To say she’s good would be a stretch but she sure is entertaining. The usually excellent Howard Hawks doesn’t seem to have a handle on the pace of the story so despite the florid ridiculousness of the picture it occasionally drags.

    Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)-Fictional sequel to The Robe picks up where that film ended. The movie follows two stories: faithful Demetrius (Victor Mature) the soldier converted to Christianity in the first picture is pressed into being a gladiator and catches the eye of the salacious Messalina (Susan Hayward) wife of Emperor Caligula’s uncle which causes a crisis of conscience. Meanwhile the mad Caligula pursues Jesus’s robe believing it to have magical powers. Star-studded if improbably cast (i.e. Ernest Borgnine as a Roman centurion) with future stars Anne Bancroft and Julie Newmar appearing briefly. Nicely produced if a bit overblown.

  4. I also picked Agora and Gladiator and I enjoyed both. I feel like I should watch The Prince of Egypt, I've never seen the entire film, only some scenes.

  5. I think I will pass on Agora as I heard it was dull and it sounds it. I think I wil, also pass on The Prince of Egypt but I love Gladiator and agree with all you have said. I would add that Connie Nielsen was stellar as the woman who loves Russel Crowe and also needs to fend off her brother. Her role is under-rated because her role is memorable as well and that says a lot when she is up against those 2 men

  6. I ssaw The Prince of Egypt ages ago...I quite forgot it was a musical because the only song I remember is the one with Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.