I, Claudius

I, Claudius

4.5 30
Director: Herbert Wise

Cast: 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 setsSee more details below

Overview

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.

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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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Product Details

Release Date:
12/02/2008
UPC:
0014381510126
Original Release:
1975
Source:
Image Entertainment
Time:
11:09:00

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