Review of 'Quo Vadis'

quo_vadis.jpg Set in the last four years of Nero's (an interesting role for Peter Ustinov) reign (AD 64-68) the victorious Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) returns to Rome to great pomp and circumstance. Marcus falls for Lygia (Deborah Kerr) who he soon learns belongs to a new sect called “Christian” which he gradually becomes to understand and sympathise. The empire is in decay with the legendary excesses of Nero. When Nero sets Rome alight in a somewhat (!) misguided attempt to regain the love of his people he sees his error so blames the Christians. When Marcus rescues Lygia and her family from the flames he is imprisoned along with the Christians who now face death by lion in the arena…Will the truth be revealed before it is too late?

An interesting if somewhat OTT tale of ancient Rome with a flamboyant performance by Ustinov as Nero. The Hollywood version is obviously one of romance and melodrama with much of the political intrigue very much toned down. The set pieces such as the burning of Rome and the arena are very well done and quite convincing - Very reminiscent of classics such as “The Ten Commandments” which is not entirely surprising given that LeRoy credits Cecil B. Demille for inspiring him to become a director.

Taylor is appropriately masculine here with Kerr appropriately demur, largely giving into his charms. Yep, very much a movie of it's time. A simple story of love and triumph in true Hollywood style. A classic Hollywood epic from the age of epics. Most now would find it dated (and potentially morally offensive) but it is quite nonetheless mildly entertaining.


Review Date: 2017-08-13

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy and Anthony Mann

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Year: 1951

Length: 171 minutes

Genre: Melodrama