Monday, November 07, 2005

HBO's ROME - bytes

Instead of just reviewing the new HBO/BBC series ROME, I am going to list some soundbytes from recent reviews which I thought were relevant:

'...from the animated graffiti in ROME's opening credits, we’re plunged into a city at odds with the usual pristine, white-marble image ... the metropolis is grubby with backstreet brothels and gambling dens, candle-strewn street shrines and grass growing between the cobblestones.'
Ian Johns The Times 3 Nov 2005


'...if your Latin is better than mine, I imagine some of the graffiti would repay close attention.'
Thomas Sutcliffe The Independent Thurs 3 Nov 2005

'And the women? Naturally they were either drips who conveniently die in childbirth or are juicily poisonous harpies like Polly "oh my tunic's fallen off again" Walker, a mean mutha a la Angelina Jolie in Alexander.'
Laruskha Ivan-Zadeh METRO Life Thurs 3 Nov 2005

'I did find running around the garden with a whip, trying to beat up my children quite difficult...'
Polly Walker (who plays Atia) The Times Knowlege

'Some of the writer’s choices do baffle me. Why play up the obscure character of Atia, and leave out completely Marc Antony’s future wife Fulvia, one of history’s most extraordinary femme fatales? Why fail to mention that Servilia is Cato’s half-sister? But, all storytellers have to make their own choices and find their own way through this maze of dramatic material.'
Steven Saylor (author of The Judgement of Caesar) on his website

'The BBC has not only sold this series on sex and violence, but now, in the way it has edited and cut the first episodes, it has made sex scenes more important than the senate scenes ... I’m really pissed off with the BBC for bringing down my first three episodes to two and, in doing so, taking out much of the vital politics.'
Michael Apted (director of HBO's ROME, quoted in The Sunday Times 6 Nov 2005


'If you overlook the scourgings, the gladiator fights, the rapes and the crucifixions, [the Romans] were gentility itself. They even invented a water-soaked sponge on the end of a stick because there was no such thing as lavatory paper...'
The Times Mon 7 Nov 2005

'Conventions in real Rome were so very different from ours. A Roman citizen transported to the television armchair would be puzzled by the lack of real animal slaughter and real human death footage on the screen.'
Christopher Howse The Daily Telegraph Thurs 3 Nov 2005

'...some critics believe that the closest likeness to a genuine Roman stage production is the coarse innuendo of Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii (1969).'
Adam Sherwin The Times Tues 18 Oct 2005

The attitude towards slaves – treated like objects – is dead-on but unusual in a contemporary presentation of sympathetic characters.
Mark A. Perigard The Boston Herald

'Has anyone ever thought of casting Italians as ancient Romans?'
A.A.Gill Sunday Times 6 Nov 2005

'...there is no character in the ROME series truer to the emotional life of Caesar's times than Tony Soprano, the eponymous mobster in the long-running American TV series... they have created a fine and compulsively watchable series; but as a portrait of of late Roman republic it is only the second-best drama HBO has made.'
Tom Holland (author of Rubicon) The Sunday Times 23 Oct 2005

P.S. from 2014: I tried to get Anglo-Italians cast as characters in the TV adaptation of my Roman Mysteries. I failed, but it's still a fun watch.