Tuesday, January 24, 2017

'I, Claudius' (1976)

I, Claudius  (1976) is one of those grand BBC mini-series, in this case historically-based through the scrim of novels written by Robert Graves. It's streamlined and impressive, almost like a filmed theatrical production in that the sets are more suggestive than exhaustive. The actors are superb.

I, Claudius feels like a a mix of Mobster, Game of Thrones, Horror and Intrigue tales: surprise and mayhem mixed with scheming and back-stabbing. It has induced some very strange dreams, indeed. 

Like some of our more dramatic world leaders of 2017, the Caesars of 2000 years ago were either demented criminal buffoons (Caligula and Nero), morose and dark schemers (Tiberius), or criminal but capable rulers (Augustus and Claudius). Take them or kill them, those were the choices. 

Expect more antics from these types in the Year of the Fire Rooster, which begins at the end of this week. 
In I, Claudius, after one Caesar promotes the stability of marriage, his wife quietly poisons him. But at least he makes it into his seventies, unlike most of them. 

In I, Claudius, power rarely changes hands by rational choice. If poison is the preferred method of moving on, stabbing and other methods work, too. 

Every Caesar has opponents, and every opponent has a Caesar. The rich men of the Senate provide some buffer from complete entropy, depending on factions, the Army, the fickle mood of the Masses. On the perimeters of the Empire, enemies probe for openings to exploit and stray people to slaughter. 
Here: Patrick Stewart as Sejanus, with Patricia Quinn as Livilla (Claudia Livia Julia), both of them devious and power-mad -- far too clever for their own good.

I, Claudius is both highly interesting and a cautionary tale. Without proper checks and balances, those at the top tend to go off the deep end, then, now, soon to come. 

Today's Rune: Breakthrough.  


Charles Gramlich said...

Oh, I've gotta see this.

jodi said...

Erik, now this one-maybe. I used to watch all those chariots and gladiator flicks as a child with my Dad. He loved 'em!