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JULIUS CAESAR'S ROME

Review by Chastity Campbell

Directors: Various
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video:  Standard 1.33:1
Studio: A&E 
Features: See Review
Length:  322 Minutes           
Release Date:  July 26, 2005

Film ***

I got a joke for you...here we go, this is a good one:

How was the Roman Empire cut in half?  Give up?   With a pair of Caesars!  Get it, with a pair of Caesars!  (Mental note, keep the jokes to yourself from now on!)

History is something I truly enjoy…now!  Back in the good old days, my high school history teacher Mr. Hall spent more time begging me to pay attention than he did teaching class.  At this point in my life, I like to think he would be proud of what I have learned, and I owe a lot of it to A&E! 

In order to help add to my repository of historical knowledge, I took a stab at reviewing A&E’s latest offering on DVD, Julius Caesar’s Rome.  This two disc DVD box set contains some of the most detailed information on the Roman Empire I have ever had the pleasure of viewing/hearing.  

The first disc contains two featurettes.   Biography: Julius Caesar: Master Of The Roman World takes you step by empirical step through the life of the man who would be Caesar.  There are so many things that I did not know about Caesar before this feature.  I had no idea how old he was at the time of his murder.  I was also fascinated by the interplay of politics and money, even back then.

Anthony & Cleopatra is the second featurette on disc one.  This feature really blew me away.  Everyone always talks about how Cleopatra’s beauty could stop even the waters of the Nile from flowing.  According to modern scholars and information, Cleo wasn’t any prettier than the average woman walking down the street. 

However, there was something extremely special about her…her mind.  Cleopatra was extremely smart, and cunning.  In addition she received an education beyond what most of the men from that time period received. 

The tragic love story of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra is told with exquisite detail in this A&E featurette.  The reenactments and interviews with historical experts, will paint a picture of these two individuals, unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Now if you thought disc one was packed with fun and excitement, just wait till you pop in disc number two!

Host Joe Mantegna provides you with a very interesting look into the early years of the Roman Empire, in the first featurette on this disc titled The Republic Of Rome.  You will learn about Rome before it was the Rome of legend, and how the people rose up and defeated Carthage.  Joe will lead you through the formation of the first Roman Government, which historically speaking paved the way for modern democracy. 

In The Age Of Emperors, you will have a front row seat as the history and legacy of Rome’s Emperors are explored.  Whether you are interested in Augustus’ defeat of Marc Anthony or Nero’s insanity, this featurette will deliver on every level.

When it comes to Building An Empire, Julius Caesar did an amazing job.  However, there was more than one man behind the birth of the Roman Empire, and this featurette will help you connect the dots on the map to who was who in Ancient Rome!

The Enduring Legacy is the final featurette this two-disc set has to offer.   This feature chronicles the fall of Rome, and the rise of Christianity.  This featurette was extremely interesting for me.

I have long romanticized Rome during its glory days.  However, this feature for me was eye opening in a way that no other historical reference material has ever been.  Prior to this A&E offering my knowledge of Rome, its culture, and its people was limited.  I am extremely pleased to say that is not the case now. 

If interesting and enjoyable educational entertainment is the order of the day, then you can serve yourself well by picking up Julius Caesar’s Rome on DVD.

Video ***

These DVDs were presented in a 1.33:1 standard aspect ratio.  The video footage was crisp, and clean with only a small amount of dirt and graininess to the print. The colors were vivid, with little to no degradation from the digital transfer.

All in all, a pretty nice looking set of DVDs.

Audio ***

A&E always does a good job with the audio on their DVDs.  This time was no exception to that rule.  

The Dolby Digital Stereo mix was well balanced, and flowed along very nicely.  The audio levels remained constant from disc to disc, with little to no difference.  The interviews were easy to hear and understand.  The mixing between interviews, and re-enactments was really nicely done as well.  

 Features *

Julius Caesar’s Rome, while great on its own, could have used a few more extras in my opinion!

A very nicely detailed Timeline of Roman Emperors is included for your perusal.  In addition to that, each disc contains interactive menus, and scene selection.

Summary:

Julius Caesar’s Rome is a piercing tale that demonstrates the old saying: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely!  You and your family will be entertained as well as informed with this double disc set from A&E. 

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