Wednesday, October 04, 2006

XXVI. I GIGANTI DI ROMA (THE GIANTS OF ROME) 1964




I Giganti di Roma ( The Giants of Rome)

Year;
1964

Director: Antonio Margheriti

Music; Carlo Rustichelli

Country; Italy & France

Duration; 100 minutes

The Players;Richard Harrison (Claudius Marcellus) Wandisa Guida( Livilla) Ettore Manni (Castor) Philippe Hersent (Drusus) Rulph Hudson( Germanicus) Nicole Tessier ( Edua) Goffredo Unger (Varo) Renato Baldini (Drood) Piero Lulli (Pompeus) Alessandro Sperli (Julius Caesar)

Alternatives; Les Geants de Rome (French)
Available;Retromedia DVD
Original Ratio;
2:35:1
DVD Ratio; Fullscreen
Colour * English Language* Dubbed*

Alongside Mario Bava were Riccardo Freda and Antonio Margheriti who were also best associated with their gothic horror contribution to genre cinema than their sword and sandal achievements (Mario Bava could be just out of this scope as despite its’ main peplum ingredient ‘Hercules in the Haunted World’ was also marketed,effectively, as a horror film )

Margheriti churned out two movies worth mentioning, both vehicles for the overrated Barbara Steele namely ‘The Long Hair of Death’ and ‘Castle of Blood’.

I have yet to see these and will compare one day.

With his directorial identity well established and respected thanks to cobwebs and cadavers Giants of Rome was his interpretation of ancient adventure with a few decent combats chucked in for good measure.



The hero of the film is Richard Harrison, the good looker from ‘Perseus L’invincibile’ made a year previous.

Although Giants of Rome is watchable and breaks off, refreshingly, from the mythological milieu to interpret actual periods in history as its’ backdrop; this doesn’t save the vehicle from the mundane and the film offers no apologies for what it is - a luke warm cash-in.

The film could be likened to WW2 movie or ‘The Guns of Navarone’ ….in togas, but whatever we equate it too in similarity it couldn’t cloud our minds from thinking that some of its’ running time can be exceptionally plodding.

Set in ancient Rome, at the time of Julius Caesar, the main plot focuses on a bunch of assembled elite gladiators and their plight in locating and destroying a secret weapon of the Gauls.

Harrison plays the lead, Claudius Marcellus, who is a firm favourite amongst his fellow fighters and becomes their heroic commander.

The majority of the film consists of them being captured by the barbarian horde then escaping then being captured once more.

Although these instances are mildly enthralling Margheriti does let the plot drag considerably at times but never seems to lose foresight of the fate of the gladiators and their mission.

Aspects of dull are salvaged in a pretty cool underwater raft ambush but other instances of notoriety simply passed me by or were rather flimsy to make an impact I found.

When revealed the Gauls' secret weapon is - a rather disappointing catapult in a cavern, a rustic creation combining of clanking chains and wooden levers. Plausible but very b-movie!

There is also the obligatory love interest courtesy of Wandisa Guidas’ tepid Livilla, but this too is a bit of a non-entity that seems to come and go without leaving a big dent in the plot or that much of an impression.

Once again with films of this type the locations and sets are lovingly reconstructed to represent the unpredictably violent times.

The choice of Carlo Rustichelli for the soundtrack was a saving grace as he serves two purposes in this film, to boost up the dramatic impact and to save the weariest of our viewers from napping.

Its’ such a pity that the acoustics on this DVD are so shit, and so one cannot appreciate them fully.

Giants of Rome is not a flunker but it’s nowhere near a classic either and seems to sit somewhere in between.

Its’ one of those ‘seen-once-and-move-on’ movies that would be perfect for a rainy day but is way down the list of potential sword and sandal epics that display the best attributes of the genre .

Just average this one, so don’t expect too much and you should find you’re sufficiently entertained, just not bowled over.

The print under review features alongside the Hercules and the Princess of Troy episode.

Both are a little ropey in quality, visually they both show a bit of wear and tear. The sound also plays up, with a segment of speech being lost in the TV ‘Hercules’ episode and a constant hiss on the Giants of Rome.

Both however are exemplary in comparison to the Atlas in the Land of the Cyclops print which is one of the worst I have seen, more on that abortion in its respective section.

Buy Giants of Rome (and guests) from this link and surprise, surprise (sarcas.) its Region 1 only.


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