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I, Claudius

I, Claudius

4.5 30
Director: Herbert Wise, Derek Jacobi, Sian Phillips, Brian Blessed

Cast: Herbert Wise, Derek Jacobi, Sian Phillips, Brian Blessed


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This 13-episode miniseries was adapted from the book by Robert Graves, which chronicles the tumultuous life and times of Claudius (Derek Jacobi), who despite a deformed leg and a speech impediment through prophecy becomes the Roman Emperor. An aging Claudius looks back at the bizarre and treacherous times through which he's lived and sets


This 13-episode miniseries was adapted from the book by Robert Graves, which chronicles the tumultuous life and times of Claudius (Derek Jacobi), who despite a deformed leg and a speech impediment through prophecy becomes the Roman Emperor. An aging Claudius looks back at the bizarre and treacherous times through which he's lived and sets them down in a secret history that is not to be read until after his death. The distinguished cast of I, Claudius includes John Hurt as Caligula, Brian Blessed as Augustus, Sian Phillips as Livia, Margaret Tyzack as Antonia, and Patrick Stewart as Sejanus. The home-video release also includes the documentary The Epic That Never Was, which looks at producer Alexander Korda ill-starred attempt to film Graves' novel in the mid-1930s.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Greg Fagan
Among the all-time classics of dramatic television -- indeed, many fans view it as the medium's pinnacle -- I, Claudius merits all the esteem and none of the cultural baggage typically heaped upon Masterpiece Theatre. Rich in political intrigue, brilliantly cast and paced, and spiced with the toga-party hedonism that the Romans did so well, this British TV miniseries is every bit as delicious as The Sopranos. And, as first-time viewers discover by the close of the first of its seven episodes, every bit as addictive. Based on the wonderful biography by Robert Graves, the story is narrated by Claudius (Derek Jacobi in his career-defining role), who lived between approximately 24 B.C. and A.D. 54. The twisting tale begins with the desperate search by Augustus Caesar (Brian Blessed) for an heir and his wife Livia's (Sian Phillips) machinations to see that her favored son, Tiberius (George Baker), takes the throne. Over subsequent episodes, we're treated to future Captain Picard Patrick Stewart as the treacherous Sejanus, John Hurt as the uniquely evil Caligula, Christopher Biggins as the incendiary Nero, and dozens of other characters great and small. Through it all, Claudius is a fascinating observer of the imperial court in its tragic decline. A speech defect and eccentricity isolate him from the internecine carnage -- although it wouldn't be quite the satisfying romp that it is if he didn't eventually have his own cruel turn with power. This slim new edition of I, Claudius, which presents the nearly nine-hour-long miniseries on three DVDs, presents a true TV masterpiece in its best form to date: suitable for a bacchanal-cum-marathon.
All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
Often called the finest TV miniseries ever made, I, Claudius burgeons with exceptional scriptwriting, character development, and acting. It centers on the lives of ruling Romans of the Imperial Age between 24 B.C. and 54 A.D. The audience's guide is Claudius Caesar (10 B.C.-54 A.D.), a clumsy, stuttering good-for-nothing who is deceptively clever and becomes emperor in 41 A.D. when nobody is looking. Claudius was the son of General Nero Claudius Drusus and the grandson of Livia Drusilla, the wife of Caesar Augustus, who ruled Rome as its first emperor from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. Claudius wrote a history of Rome that does not survive, but novelist and poet Robert Graves (1895-1985) imagined what Claudius reported and presented it in two books -- I, Claudius and Claudius, the God -- on which the miniseries is based. Although the production depicts known history factually, it interprets the private lives of Caesarean nobility through Graves' work. The script is mordantly witty and so titillating in its depiction of political intrigue, decadence, murder plots, insanity, and unbridled ambition that it manages to fascinate and horrify at the same time. Sian Phillips steals the show as the conniving, unremittingly despicable, and sometimes drop-dead funny Livia, the wife of Augustus, even though Brian Blessed (Augustus), John Hurt (Caligula), and Derek Jacobi (Claudius) are all nearly flawless in their roles. Although the backdrop is static, the plot and pacing are nimble and dynamic. The decline of the Roman Empire was never so uplifting and entertaining as in this television tour de force.

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I, Claudius 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ALL REVIEWS BELOW PERTAIN TO EARLIER DVD VERSIONS - THIS IS NEW & IMPROVED. I bought this new version released in March 2012 in hopes the audio would be better and more balanced. Thankfully, it is. (When watching the older DVD set, I always had to soften the audio when Julia or Livilla was screaming about being locked in their rooms. I was always afraid my apartment building neighbors would call the police thinking I was being held captive!) One particular Restored Scene which I greatly appreciated: Livia somberly drinking wine as Augustus' cries of pain can be heard from the next room. Sian Phillips acting is extraordinary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantastic theater and historical content! However, the boxed set edition had very poor sound: almost inaudible at times. Played the set on two different DVD player systems with the same results. Barnes and Noble probably needs better quality control.
Guest More than 1 year ago
5 stars for the series, but only 1 for the DVD itself. ''I, Claudius'' is an all-time great series which deserves a first-rate presentation. Unfortunately, Image Entertainment totally drops the ball, with muddy pictures, poor sound, and, in some spots, drops and broken-up pictures (this is straight out of the box on a DVD player on which everything else plays fine). Based on what I've seen on two other Image Entertainment DVDs, ''Naked City'' and ''Detour,'' poor quality production is par for the course with them. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, a company that cares will get the DVD-production rights for ''I, Claudius.'' In the meantime, stick with the VHS version.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great adaptation of Robert Grave's fictional work. All of the actors render a stunning and convincing portrayal of what life was like at the core of the early Roman empire. Derek Jakobi brilliantly performs the character of Claudius as he ponders his life and impresses his thoughts on to his 'autobiography.' The audience is then taken through the ambitions and intrigues of the Julio-Claudian dynasty from the reign of Augustus to Nero's. Through the eyes of Claudius, the audience has a bird's eye view into the dynastic contests played with wit and humor; seeing the evolution of the empire from the remnants of a crumbled republic to a sophisticated imperial beuraucracy that is protected by the notorious praetorian guard. With this insight, Claudius is soon appreciated by the audience as having a keen intellect as opposed to being dull and slow of wit. His desire for truth and his loathing of the imperial struggle gives his story clarity and impartiality. All of the characters are brilliantly played; their actions and motivations all come to light in the course of the mini-series. The acting of Derek Jacobi as Claudius is brilliant. The same goes for Brian Blessed and Sian Phillips as Augustus and Livia. There's even a brief appearance by Patrick Stewart. This presentation has a full cast of some of the finest Shakespearean actors in recent memory and their acting more than makes up for the studio limitations of this 1974 production. For audiences looking for action or special effects, there isn't much to find here; this is a theatrical adaptation and so the sound and stage have their limitations. This is not an action story anyway; if you're looking for that kind of film see 'Spartactus', 'Cleopatra', or 'Gladiator.' Despite its limiations, this is a fine BBC production of one of the greatest works in historical fiction. A must see for anyone who enjoys history or just a good story full of intrigue and suspense.
ianmcg More than 1 year ago
Great writing, wonderful cast. An engrossing series, just a pleasure to watch.
Firannion More than 1 year ago
Attention Game of Thrones fans! Definitely one of the best series ever seen on TV, 'I, Claudius' richly deserves to be rediscovered by all the folks who can't get enough of the cutthroat political machinations of the characters in 'Game of Thrones.' This was the story that set the standard, minus the sci-fi and fantasy elements.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you aren't a student of history, you'll want to force yourself to watch at least the first two episodes. It seems to go slow at first, but as the series moves along, you will become hooked by the intrigue of the storyline. Although this has some R rated scenes (some nudity and a lot of depravity), it is appropriate for kids over 13. I grew to love Livia as the series went along. She was a villian (watch the series to see how), but she was effective in getting what she ultimately wanted. There is also a scene in which she instructs the gladiators in Rome of what she expects of them which is a classic. The make up and the acting also make this also worthwhile. You see the characters go from prime adulthood or even childhood to old age (if they happen to be lucky enough to survive that long). Derek Jacobi is wonderful in the role of Claudius. After watching this program many times, I found it fun to go to the Lourve and see statues of the actual people depicted in the series. My final note is ''try it. You'll like it.''
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brilliant drama which has stood the test of time. It's about a dramatic period in Roman history but don't let the word 'history' put you off; murder, corruption, plots, intrigue .... you name it, it's got it. Worth every penny.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply the best historical mini-series ever made for television. Perfect casting, writing, and pacing make the 13 episodes supremely entertaining. You'll be hooked within the first 30 minutes and be amazed Ancient Rome lasted as long as it did with this bunch of lunatics running the show. If you like the Sopranos, you'll love this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have not seen this DVD set of the movie, but I did see it in High School. My teacher Mr. Sommers showed it as part of a History lesson and I really enjoyed it, I would recommend it to anyone who likes history or Roman History.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This reproduction of the BBC series displays the perfectly chosen character actors for which the BBC is justly famous. The intrigues, murders of rivals to the throne through poisoning and outright slaughter, and the contrasting sanity of the handicapped protagonist linger in the viewer's thoughts long after watching the thirteen episodes (including a remarkable recreation of an earlier, aborted attempt to film the story starring Sir Charles Laughton and a pixieish Merle Oberon). This DVD provides an essential introduction to ancient Rome in a manner that is both educational and entertaining.
ttranquility More than 1 year ago
Great engaging movie, leaves the viewer wanting to know more
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a student of ancient history and the author of the soon to published hi-fantasy BLOODSPILLER available at iuniverse and BN.com, I first saw this series on TV nearly twenty years ago and was absolutely mesmerized by it. Besides its entertainment value, it also provides a reasonably accurate reason for the debaucheries of the Julio-Claudian family that provided the earliest emperors of Imperial Rome. One can understand why Tiberius and Caligula were monsters, for having been nurtured in a snake pit, how else could they have turned out?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is literally the best historical mini-series written for television ever made. I Claudius is a gripping drama filled with intrigue and abuses of power. You will be hooked within 15 minutes. Brilliantly acted and written, this mini-series can be watched over and over again as the murders of rivals to the throne are dispatched after elaborate plottings and schemes within schemes. I watch I Claudius for the first time in 1985, some 10 years after it was filmed, on my local PBS station. They had the foresight and courage to present this violent and disturbing view of Roman life during the rule of the Caesars.Perfect casting and writing. Sian Phillips as Livia creates one of the greatest on-screen villains ever. You will never forget her! Ever!
Guest More than 1 year ago
You'll love I Claudius. I watched the entire miniseries back in 1991 on PBS. I rented episode 9 ''Zeus by Jove'' last night, and will watch the remaining episodes covering Claudius's reign as emperor over the coming month. If time allows, I would like to see the others. A masterpiece, well acted by Derek Jacobi as Claudius. Other standouts include William Hurt as Caligula, and Patrick Stewart (a.k.a. Capt Jean Luc Picard) as Sejanus. Even though Claudius was considered to be ''a stuttering fool'', he turned out to be the best emperor Rome had during the period following Augustus's death and Nero's fall.
MonikaReid More than 1 year ago
I first saw this in my classics class. In fact it was the first classics class that I ever took and was the class that convinced me to major in classical humanities. Once I graduated it was the first thing I bought with my own money. Granted Rome was the first historical DVD set that I owned but it was a gift, I, Claudius is mine. It was the best purchase ever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A stunning historical drama set in the ancient world, this adaptation of Robert Grave's great novel has none of the spectacle of Hollywood Roman epics such as Spartacus or Gladiator, but it doesn't need it. Brilliantly acted and written, this mini-series can be watched over and over again, each time a different nuance fathomed by the viewer. Of special mention are two performances. Sian Phillips as Livia creates one of the greatest on-screen villains ever (male or female). Also, of course, is Jacobi's Claudius, an exhausting and amazing tour-de-force performance. Made for television with a relatively small budget, this production was videotaped and not filmed. Therefore, the series might have a stage-like feel to it, but never mind the visual excess it might lack. You'll be bowled over by its excellence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The DVD of this excellent Masterpiece Theater production is a welcome addition to my collection. Great production, outstanding performances, good adaptation of the book. Derek Jacobi as the Emperor Claudius is most impressive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I, Claudius is a riveting drama about the Claudian family as seen through the eyes of Clauius. After watching this series, I read Robert Graves' book; I was so fascinated by this soap opera-like series. The murders, the affairs, the back stabbing, all make this the most enjoyable mini series ever made. Superb acting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We had this in VHS format and bought the DVD format for our use. We have one problem, there is a problem with one disc. Will have to return at a store to replace.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great classic, I had seen many times and decided that it should be part of my collection. One of the GREAT PBS dramas of all time.
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