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Rome, the Eternal Story: From Ben Hur to The Eagle

Posted January 21, 2011 to photo album "Rome, the Eternal Story: From Ben Hur to The Eagle"

The Eagle explores a part of ancient Roman history rarely seen on stage. But the history of Rome changes throughout history as well.

Slide 1: Exploring New Territory
Slide 2: Rome - The Eternal, Ever-Changing City
Slide 3: Rome and the American Imagination
Slide 4: Ben Hur, the great American/Roman Novel
Slide 5: Ben Hur (1907) in Silent Film
Slide 6: Ben-Hur (1925) and the Epic Grandeur of Rome
Slide 7: Scipio Africanus: The Defeat of  Hannibal and the Fascist Italy
Slide 8: Quo Vadis - Nero’s Rome as a Totalitarian State
Slide 9: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959) and the Race to Freedom
Slide 10: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959) and Making Rome Gay
Slide 11: Spartacus (1960) and the Return of the Opressed
Slide 12: Cleopatra and American Excess
Slide 13: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Rome turned Jewish
Slide 14: Satryicon (1969), Ancient Rome through Fellini’s Eyes
Slide 15: Caligula (1979): Rome Goes All The Way
Slide 16: Monty Python’s The Life of Brian - Rome as Parody
Slide 16: Gladiator (2000), and the Return of Rome
Slide 16: Monty Python’s The Life of Brian - Rome as Parody

Slide 16: Monty Python’s The Life of Brian - Rome as Parody

John Cleese, Michael Palin and Graham Chapman

After spoofing the Middle Ages in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the British comedy troupe turned its parodic attentions to the great Roman/Christian epics, like Ben Hur, with Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. A musical number featuring a chorus line of the Mount Calvary crucified singing, “Always look on the bright side of life,” shocked the righteous, with nuns and rabbis protesting it screening in New York. Critic Carl J. Mora, writes of this Monty Python production, “[A] totally insane group of Romans, Jewish nationalists, and proto-Christians are slashed with the barbed Pythonian wit. For example, in one scene the Jewish nationalists are meeting in the stands of an all but empty arena in which a couple of forlorn gladiators chase each other around. In the seats, the few young spectators attest to this being a ‘Children's Matinee.’ In this way, the film conveys the inhumanity and moral desolation of the Roman world. And the constant bickering between rival Jewish revolutionary groups reflects the historical state of rebelliousness and conflict with the concomitant succession of ‘messiahs’ that characterized Palestine in the 1st century A.D.” Who knew?