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I ClaudiusBBC major series


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15 replies to this topic

#1 glebb

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 05:37 AM

With last night off and cable on the fritz, I decided to watch my videos of "I Claudius". It's been at least a year (or two) since I last viewed these thirteen episodes.

What fun! Television does not entertain like this any more. There are terrific performances by Derek Jacobi (Claudius), Sian Phillips (wicked, wicked Livia), Brian Blessed (ignorant Augustus), Margaret Tyzack (noble and intrepid Antonia), George Baker (frustrated and finally insane Tiberius), John Hurt (Caligula), Patrick Stewart (corrupt Sejanus).

If you like to watch but are bored with tv, rent "I Claudius" for superb entertainment.

#2 dido

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 06:35 AM

I've been showing installments to my beginning Latin class to off-set the boredom of memorizing demonstrative pronouns and the passive voice conjugations. Ended up having to re-read the books as well! I'm going to be very sad when Livia finally dies, Ms Phillips is wonderful, just like an elegant snake. :unsure:

#3 Watermill

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 07:44 AM

I heartlty agree: it's one of those extremely rare instances of a TV series giving as much pleasure as the books. Entire series beautifully directed by Herbert Wise. Terriffic screenwriting adaptation from Jack Pulman who died shortly after.
One of my favorite moments: Sian Philips and the professional poisoner.

#4 Funny Face

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 11:24 AM

Yes, I've enjoyed that series a number of times.

Other favorites I have on tape are the Lilly Langtry series with Francesca Annis, and "Pride and Prejudice."

I'm wondering how many of you caught the recently aired "Goodbye Mr. Chips," and your impressions.

Hope everyone is also contributing when they can to public tv and radio. It's such an artistic refuge.

#5 glebb

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 02:15 PM

Yes, Livia is the best. Her pep talk to the Olympic athletes ("You're all scum and you know it.") and her deathbed confession to Claudius are two priceless scenes. They just don't write them like that anymore.

Caligulas Bette Davis/Baby Jane impression is funny too.

#6 K8smom

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 05:34 PM

it's one of those extremely rare instances of a TV series giving as much pleasure as the books.

I think Derek Jacobi helps. Another (rare) series that I felt lived up to the books was Cadfael.

#7 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 02:15 AM

Does anyone recall a BBC nuclear holocaust film called "Threads"? It was about as frightening as anything I've ever seen, and terribly, terribly realistic.

#8 Mashinka

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 02:32 AM

Derek Jacobi is a truly wonderful actor. Did you know he has a ballet link? He appeared as the narrator in Ashton’s “Wedding Bouquet” with the Royal Ballet a few years ago.

I also remember “Threads”: it upset me so much I wasn’t able to watch to the end as I felt physically ill. A brilliant piece of drama though.

Sadly the BBC is now seriously “dumbing down” though every now and then a gem of a programme will appear. I recommend the recent serialization of George Eliot’s “Daniel Deronda” and hope it makes its way to the States.

#9 Watermill

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 08:16 AM

You're right, Mashinka: the BBC channel on my cable is nothing but light comedies and home or garden decorating shows. While I'm sure BBC is still producing better shows, what they pipe in to America is an insult, as if to say "Well, you know, the Yanks can't handle our higher culture. so well send them our coarser stuff." But your post makes me think that perhaps they're treating their own population this way too. A bloody shame.

#10 dirac

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 12:14 PM

I remember this show with great affection; you don't see casts like that in American miniseries. Wasn't Livia's speech addressed to the gladiators? I seem to recall her haranguing them about various subterfuges they were employing in order to stay alive.


I did have a problem with the adaptation, however. I thought it relied too much on the sensational aspects of Graves' narrative, that is, the blood and sex. It's true there's plenty of both, but I thought it notable that although the series was based on both "I, Claudius" and the successor book "Claudius the God" it relied very heavily on the first volume and the reign of Claudius itself was given relatively short shrift (except for Messalina and Nero, natch). One of the great pleasures of the books for me are the historical digressions into such matters as Claudius' conquest of Britain and his noodling with the alphabet. Some of these things are not easily dramatized, of course, but I thought they might have made some room between all the copulation and bloodletting, especially in a series that ran to such length.

Mashinka, Daniel Deronda has been shown here. It was very good.

#11 glebb

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 06:18 PM

Yes, gladiators. :ermm:


Did anyone catch the new version of "Dr. Zhivago"?

#12 Funny Face

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:49 PM

Yes. Is it just me, or do Lara and Dr. Zhivago seem like children in this version compared to the duo as portrayed by Julie Christie and Omar Shariff?

I also realize how much the music from the movie meant to me. It was incredibly mood setting. I have the soundtrack still and all of it is so powerful.

The PBS version has some pretty graphic scenes with the dismembered bodies, etc. Yet, it doesn't have the same effect on me that the movie did. I need to rent it soon. It was a great 'date' movie when it first came out. The kind people actually dressed up to go see in the theaters -- at least up in the Midwest.

#13 glebb

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:56 PM

The Shariff, Christie, Chaplin version is gorgeous. What a film! Once again - they don't make them like that anymore.

The new one was so harsh and real. It was painful. :ermm:

#14 vagansmom

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 08:19 PM

Yes, I saw the new "Dr. Zhivago" version too. I have mixed feelings about it. I own the original movie and love some parts of it, including "Lara's Theme", as well as the sweeping panoramic scenes. Nothing like that in this newest version.

Although it made me shudder, I do like the real footage interspersed throughout. And I preferred this Tonia. I found her character much more approachable. But I really felt as though the actress playing Lara was miscast. I thought the same of Julie Christie although for different, almost opposite reasons. In this newer production, Lara seemed way, way too young. In the original movie, I thought she seemed too old.

But of course, what I really want to do now is to reread the book. I read it when I was about 18; I simply don't remember enough about it to compare it to either film.

#15 dirac

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 10:12 AM

I agree that Julie Christie wasn't quite right for Lara, but at least she was convincing in that you could believe that three very different but exceptional men could love her all their lives. In her winter snugglies, Keira Knightley is a furball Winona Ryder.

I do have to say that I thought no one was at his best in the Lean movie except for Rod Steiger, who was stupendous. I also thought it was a good idea for the television Russia to be grubbier than the movie one. But in other ways the show is less of an improvement than it might have been -- and there was room for improvement.

vagansmom, the book is VERY DIFFERENT from either version. My opinion, Pasternak's method here is not really susceptible to dramatization, but plainly that's not stopping anyone. :wink:


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