Thursday, November 24, 2005

eyeCandy: Rome - Season 1 (2005) 5/5

HBO has been a dependable creator of great entertainment for years now. From the Sopranos to Oz to to Six Feet Under and on and on, HBO has proven its dedication to providing powerfully evocative quality programming. Its newest production,Rome certainly succeeds in this respect as much as any of the great series HBO has released so far.

Rome is set in the Rome of Julius Caesar, 50 years before Christ. Rome is a "cosmopolitan metropolis", highly developed culturally and sociologically, and with a population of 1 million people. It was the centre of one of the greatest human empires and it was ruled by the enormously astute political and tactical genius, Julius Caesar. These first twelve episodes (Rome has been renewed for a second season for 2007) follow a complex path through the arc of the rise and fall of the greatest ruler of Ancient Rome.

Rome is meticulously created - the visual trappings of the series, from elaborate costumes, to buildings and cities, to the vibrancy and richness exuding from its every scene, are fantastic (and, from what I have found, quite historically accurate). The scale of the series rises from complex personal and political interactions, to epic warfare and grand action. Rome explodes with life and makes the viewer feel as though they can understand that time and place in a much more personal way, as all great "period dramas" should (like the dust bowl in the Grapes of Wrath - not the band BTW :-) ).

The storytelling is also exceptional. Many real characters from history are presented in a very human and intimate way. Struggles range from family dramas to sophisticated plots to control the power of the empire. One of the strongest storylines, and one of the principal ones, involves two working soldiers who return with Caesar from his conquests early in the series to reintegrate their lives and relationships in the city after years travelling in war.

The show is fairly explicit, which I think works very well for it. Rome is presented in what is probably a realistic light at the time, and there are sexual sensibilities and a level of openness that may be very different from ours. This, in the end, only draws your further into the web of political intrigue, seduction, and violence that existed in the greatest city in the western world in 55 BC.
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11/24/2005 07:31:00 p.m.  


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