The Image of Ancient Rome in the Cinema

Ben-Hur-1925The Image of Ancient Rome in the Cinema

By Carl Mora

Film Historia, Vol.7, No.2 (1997)

Introduction: The ancestral memory of the Roman Empire has been the most persistent theme defining European civilization. From this vanished political entity of antiquity the modern divisions of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe have drawn much of their governmental, military, religious, and cultural heritage and practice. It is not surprising then that Europe repeatedly has sought to reestablish a semblage of “the glory that was Rome” – beginning with Charlemagne’s Carolingian Empire in the 6th century AD, continuing with the Hold Roman Empire in the 8th century AD (which lasted until 1806), and followed by the various renaissances beginning in the 14th century which sought to recuperate the scattered classical literary traditions. The culmination of these ne0-Roman restorative trends came with the 20th century Italian and German Fascists’ overwrought attempts to recreate what they perceived was the martial spectacle and power of ancient Rome.

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