Two TV PSAs

Wednesday, 20 June 2007 10:10
strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
1. Rome - new series starts tonight at 9pm on BBC2. DigiGuide sez, "With Caesar lying dead on the Senate floor, the deadly battle for control of Rome is set to begin. Brutus and his accomplices come up against the might of a vindictive Mark Antony. But with Octavian declared Caesar's rightful heir, alliances will have to be made in order to prevent all-out war." I got pretty disillusioned with it by the end of the last series, but I'll still watch all the same.

2. Browsing the schedules, I also noticed that that the documentary, Castrato, which was first broadcast a year ago on BBC4 is now being repeated on BBC2, next Tuesday (26th June) from 23:20 to 00:20. Presented by Nicholas Clapton, and featuring recordings of Alessandro Moreschi as well as a beautiful performance by Michael Maniaci and a (less-than-successful, in my opinion) attempt to recreate the sound of a castrato voice by blending a boy treble and an adult tenor, it is actually really worth watching - especially if you're coming to the opera with me in October!

In other news, Boots today sent me some 'exclusive vouchers just for me' through the post, including one worth 500 Advantage points if I buy a hair straightening kit. Well, thanks for that, Boots. I'm sure it will come in really handy.

strange_complex: (All roads lead to Rome)
Initial reaction - I liked it a lot. Good characterisations, plenty of interesting details to look out for in the sets, and accessible without being too patronising. Sure, there are some historical liberties being taken. If little Octavius ever got captured by Pompey's agents in Gaul, the event was so successfully hushed up that there's absolutely no trace of it left anywhere, in any of the historical records. But it developed his character, and also helped to clarify the enmity between Pompey and Caesar.

I'm pleased, in fact, to see Octavius taking such a central role. In fact, I'd go as far right now as to say that it looks to my eye very much as though the whole production has really been conceived from the start as his story. Not Julius Caesar's, not Mark Antony's. It starts at the very point when the young Octavius is just beginning to become actively involved in the affairs of his family and the politics of Rome. Of course, his story involves some major secondary players, and I'm sure they will have their moments. But in terms of the grand arc of the production, it looks to me as though it is his life story that will form the central peg on which all others hang. And so it should, because he is amazing.

It's a pity, that being the case, that they've got his name wrong. He didn't officially become Octavian(us) until adopted by Julius Caesar, and he didn't use the name himself even then. And a pity that we didn't get to see his first real major public appearance in Rome - the delivery of the funeral oration for his dead grandmother, Julia. But I suppose that that would only have worked for an audience familiar with the device of the Roman funeral oration, and who wants to hear a long boring speech anyway, when they can see him nearly getting killed in Gaul?

On the plus side, his costume was excellent (a bulla! and a toga praetexta!), his physical appearance convincingly like his later portrait images (as indeed was the case for most of the major characters) and his characterisation just perfect. The nerdy kid with a vicious streak, already unnervingly au fait with Roman politics and keen to manipulate and control. Oh yes, all just ready to flower into a most excellent Augustus.

I look forward to seeing more: of him, of the sets, and of the fine details of HBO's Roman world.

Edited 03/11/05 to correct mistake about Julia.
strange_complex: (Sherlock Holmes trifles)
I'm working entirely from home this week, as it's 'reading week' at Warwick (although I still had to teach first years on Monday, because they don't get one). In the garden outside my window, lots of little birds are hopping around, rummaging for seeds and grubs, and chirruping as they do so. It's rather nice to have them keeping me company as I continue to edit chapter 3.

On this topic, I'm going to try out LJ's new 'insert picture' function, and see if it will let me put in a picture of my flat, so you can all see the garden I'm talking about. Here goes:

I live here )

Hmm, it's worked, but the image is smaller than I'd like. So, experiment conducted, but I think I'll use methods which allow me more control over my pictures in future. Anyway, the front part of the ground floor of the building in the photograph is my flat, so all the windows you can see at that level are mine. I am working just inside the window in the bottom right-hand corner, and the birds are jumping around in the large bush-type thing in front of it (although that is now, of course, leafless). Please pause to admire my rose (pink) and clematis (lilac).

Hell, let's have a picture of my bridge while we're at it. I've been meaning to post this for a while:

It's mine, I tell you - all mine! )

This crosses the railway to approach my house, and although it was built by the Council, it is, self-evidently, my personal property. I cross it every single time I leave the house, and my friends never cross it for any reason other than to get to my house. Ergo, mine. It is my equivalent of the large gates and tree-lined avenue which told visitors they were entering into the territory of a stately home. On the bridge, you can see the small, retreating forms of [livejournal.com profile] edling, [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective and [livejournal.com profile] angeoverhere.

Six Feet Under and Rome )

Oh, and all you legions of people who don't have [livejournal.com profile] exler_rss on your friends list - you do know that it's a regular Dilbert feed, don't you? There are occasional short articles in Russian as well, actually, but they are easily ignored for the much higher proportion of daily Dilbert cartoons which you get. Just spreading the love, there.

Time for more of chapter 3, I do believe...

ROME!

Monday, 24 October 2005 21:48
strange_complex: (Claudius god)
My sister has just been telling me about an upcoming TV series which is certainly of interest to me, and I believe will be to others on my friends list. Entitled simply 'Rome', it is a co-production between HBO and the BBC, and is coming to the latter on Wednesday November 2nd at 9pm.

Judging from the webpages, it's not likely to be overflowing with historical accuracy. (Historical events, maybe, but that is not the same thing). I think what we have here is epic costume drama, with plenty of sex and violence: 'I, Claudius' with a big budget, perhaps, or maybe something more along the lines of other recent American mini-series such as Cleopatra (1999), Julius Caesar (2002) or Imperium: Augustus (2003) (which, coincidentally, I've just finally managed to win on Ebay - rah!).

But it does look like a feast for those keen on Classical Receptions issues. Why, even from the BBC website alone, I note that it is already inserting itself firmly into the epic tradition with statements such as: "Rome boasts the largest standing film set in the world, comprising five acres of backlot and six soundstages at the world-famous Cinecittà Studios" (has there yet been a Classical epic which didn't?) and "Rome used a peak of 40 horses in one scene, and on the largest day of shooting, 750 actors/extras were used for the scene of Caesar's triumph." (Cast of Thousands! See it with your whole family!). You can also already buy T-shirts and baseball caps with the series logo on them. How long will it be before there are Cleopatra perfumes and Nero boxer-shorts to add to the Christmas list?

My sister seemed to know on the phone that three series are planned in all, and also not only that the first series would be about Julius Caesar and his conflict with Pompey (which is clear from the website), but also that the second would be about Octavian's struggle with Antony (which I can't find online support for, but I'm sure she wouldn't have said without good reason). Presumably the third will be about the actual reign of Augustus, then. In that case, pity they didn't start screening it all earlier, as I could advise my Augustus students to watch the second and third series, and also cover them in the last two lectures of their course, which will be about Augustus in film. Ah well. I, Claudius and Imperium: Augustus should suffice between them.

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