'Rome - The Complete Second Season'
(Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, et al / 5-Disc DVD / NR / 2007 / HBO Home Video)
Overview: In this British costume drama, the turbulent transition from Roman republic to autocratic empire, which changed world history trough civil war and wars of conquest, is sketched both from the aristocratic viewpoint of Julius Caesar, his family, his adopted successor Octavian Augustus, and their political allies and adversaries, and from the politically naive viewpoint of a few ordinary Romans, notably the soldiers Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo and their families.
DVD Verdict: Rome. Once the center of power for most of Europe, the coast of North Africa and portions of the Middle East for several centuries until its collapse in 476 C.E., continues to leave its mark on the modern world; but what of the people that lived there when Rome ceased being a Republic beginning in 48 B.C.E. to become, instead, the empire that ruled for over 5 centuries? Yes, we have studied their surviving writings, their surviving buildings & infrastructure, as well as their impact upon societies; but as individuals who lived their lives there from day to day, few have grasped what their lives may have been like. Yes, there have been various films, such as "Spartacus" (1960) and various films that focused more on Christian themes within the Roman Empire; but these films typically portray Romans negatively rather than focusing on the Romans themselves and their lives in the capital.
In 2005, a new television series aired on HBO with the simple name "Rome". It's second season continued in 2007. Unlike past negative portrayals of ancient Rome, this fictional series (based on factual events) focuses on the lives of various individuals, including Julius Caesar's former mistress Servilia (Lindsay Duncan); the power-hungry Atia (Polly Walker), who was related to Caesar; Atia's son Gaius Octavian (Max Pirkis as a teenager, Simon Woods as a young man); Octavian's friend & general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (Allen Leech), who falls in love with Octavian's sister Octavia (Kerry Condon); Mark Antony (James Purefoy), who is forced to marry Octavia to keep peace with Octavian; Servilia's son Marcus Junius Brutus (Tobias Menzies); Cleopatra (Lyndsey Marshal); Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero (David Bamber); and two Roman soldiers: Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson). Lucius Veronus, still the tragic character wanted only to provide for his wife Niobe (Indira Varma), who died in the first season, and their children, who were enslaved.
Having served in the military under Mark Antony and briefly as a senator, he is given control over Rome's commercial district, but eventually rejoins the army after being rejected by his children (after rescuing them from slavery) and follows Mark Antony to Egypt. Lucius Veronus often helps his less educated friend Titus Pullo, who has a huge temper and often uses physical aggression as a means to solve disputes. Servilia, after being spurned by Julius Caesar in the first season and encouraged her son Brutus to murder him, must instead mourn Brutus' eventual death. For, it was after Caesar's death, that Octavian is declared his son and heir, which he takes rather seriously to the chagrin of Mark Antony and Atia, his lover. Atia (highly fictionalized in the series), still the egocentric and wanton manipulator, becomes very attached to Mark Antony; but that relationship is not to last, which may fulfill a curse from her bitter enemy Servilia.
With frequent sexual intrigue and nudity, "Rome" is a series that will never be seen on network television; but it did find a very good home on HBO. With its very interesting portrayal of life in ancient Rome from many perspectives, wonderful dialog, brilliant acting, beautiful cinematography and engaging characters, 'Rome: The Complete Second Season' is a resounding success and I highly recommend it to one and all. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Ten episodes on five discs
Five Revealing Audio Commentaries with Cast and Crew
All Roads Lead to Rome: Interactive Onscreen Guide Prepared By The Series' Co-Producer/Historical Consulatnt, Jonathan Stamp
A Tale of Two Romes: Ancient Rome Was Two different Cities For Different Classes. See How The Patricians And The Plebs Differed In All Matters, From Jobs To Recreation To Religion
The Making of Rome: Season 2 - Take A Tour Of The Production Of The Epic Series
The Rise of Octavian: Rome's First Emperor
Antony & Cleopatra - A Revealing Look At One Of The Most Famous Love Affairs Of All Time