After burning Rome, Emperor Nero decides to blame the Christians, and issues the edict that they are all to be caught and sent to the arena. Two old Christians are caught, and about to be hauled off, when Marcus, the highest military official in Rome, comes upon them.
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This is SO lurid! ! ! And so gay/lesbian/queer! Maybe my most favorite pre-code film. Claudette Colbert's nipple poking out of her milk bath as slaves fill the cistern with buckets of fresh milk! Then she tells her servant to take off her clothes and get in! Pygmies fighting Amazon women! Christians fed to lions and a nude cutie fed to crocodiles! And the most deabuched, queerest Nero ever played by Charles Laughton.
Nero playing harp and reciting poetry while watching Rome burning is a pleasure one must not be deprived of. The debauchery scenes are not so different than some of our parties, proof that human progress in this matter is a decoy. What about Nero's Games : I have rarely seen such a cruel and sadistic scene on screen than the scene of the Christian pin-up waiting to be devoured by crocodiles. Masterpiece.
Laughton and Colbert are lip-smackingly evil as Nero and Poppea. It's a violent, exploitative, decadent film...it gives me a chuckle when right-wingers praise DeMille as family entertainment...his movies practically wallow in sin, with bad guys that are always more fun than the good guys.
A well-told story of the rise of Christianity in the Roman empire. It shows beautifully the contrast between the hedonistic, self-centered Romans and the virtuous, peaceful Christians. The central example is shown through the concept of love. Marcus' love for Marcia seems little more than selfish, carnal desire, whereas her love for her faith seems to transcends that. And stylish too. This is really good.