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Thread: What are some good Roman war films?

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    Member Member Hippolyte's Avatar
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    As the title says, what are your favourites? #Personally, I don't know of many good ones, that specifically make a conscious effort to adhere to the realities, materials, formations and tactics, etc, of Roman warfare, but I've enjoyed:

    Anthony and Cleopatra--a very young and buxom Elizabeth Taylor

    Massada--you have to love that Roman determination and those excellent rams



    War is like love. #It always finds a way.
    --Bertholt Brecht

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    Member Member DthB4Dishonor's Avatar
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    Well here are some obvious ones,

    1)Gladiator: Great opening battle sequence after that small skirmhes but good movie all together.

    2)Sparticus: Has some very big battles as slaves/gladiators fight Roman legions (Also loosely based on real roman events)

    3)Not Roman but very good is Spartans battle of thermopolye and old movie forget the actual name. This is a good movie too.
    Also Known As: RTKPaul
    "I dont want you to die for your country, no poor son of a bitch ever won a war by dying for his country, he won it by making the other poor son of a bitch die for his country"- George S. Patton

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    Just an Oldfart Member Basileus's Avatar
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    Fall of the roman empire

    ben hur

    DthB4Dishonor, your talking about the 300 spartans rigth?

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    Member Member DthB4Dishonor's Avatar
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    It might be that Basileus I'm not sure what its name is. Also Ben Hur I think has 1 or 2 battle scenes but not positive about that either.

    I also think there is a made for TV movie or mini-series call Massada or Masada about the Roman put down of the last Jewish Zealot revolt. Shows the great Roman war machine.

    The Roman Army was a fighting force but also engineers, architecs. Also the Roman Army was to be feared if it was sieging your city. They say roman engineering and Roman patience were great.

    Roman army once sieging a city when the inhabitants bragged that they had enough food and a fresh water source to last for 10 years. The Roman General frankly and calmly stated....."so then we shall take it in the 11th". The city gave up within the month. LOL, I mean you have to be a pretty bad ass and confident army to make such statements.

    RTKPaul

    Gah sorry went off topic a bit.
    Also Known As: RTKPaul
    "I dont want you to die for your country, no poor son of a bitch ever won a war by dying for his country, he won it by making the other poor son of a bitch die for his country"- George S. Patton

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    Member Member Hippolyte's Avatar
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    I must admit to viewing most of these flicks. #Of course, it was Masada that left an indelible impression upon me as a child. #I could never quite shake the image of the seige engines battering the Jews' (Essenes I believe) hilltop fortress walls. In spite of the excellent resistance, the Romans set to work in a methodical and determined manner. #I remember very little else from the movie. #Though it is a fact that the Essenes really did murder their wives and children and commit suicide rather than face the Romans after their unsuccessful defense. #

    The Essenes had good reason to fear. #By this time--the early/mid Empire--the Romans had learned a lot about siegecraft from the Greeks and other eastern foes. #And as DthB4Dishonor has suggested, at this time each legion contained engineers, medical practitioners, architects, etc. #They were capable of independent and long term campaigns. #But a professional army also had its drawbacks. #The Republican premise of the citizen/farmer/soldier had for the most part evaporated. Loyalty in the ranks was not to Rome, per se, but to the legion/unit and/or the general/leader. #We all know how this contributed to Roman devisiveness and, eventually, civil wars. #It would also feature prominently in the reliance upon foreigners and slaves to man the legions; thus, providing ample opportunities for that internal corruption noted by so many commentators. #

    However, during Republican Rome seiges were anything but a foregone conclusion. #They were, if the target town/city was large enough usually rather costly. #It is typically acknowledged that it was only after the end of the Third Punic War that Roman engineering began to achieve something near to being reliable in the field. #And it was because of the enormous sacrifice entailed in laying a successful seige that those besieged were so fearful. #It is not exaggeration to say that Romans often stripped bare entire buildings as they poured through breaches. #Indeed, in the storming of Carthage some legionaries were excluded from their 'fair share' of spoils because they had begun to loot prematurely. #In other instances, the Romans made it a point to be as brutal and barbaric as possible towards the defenders, including noncombatants. #Severe injury, humiliation, rape, torture and, especially, slavery was the fate for most, but things could very easily have been much more ghastly. Tales of mutilation and dismemberment of civilians are common enough, even of (cover your eyes canine lovers) dogs (poor "Spot" ilus) Total war indeed. #This, however, was not simply a purely "Roman" approach; it was also employed less frequently by other besiegers in Antiquity, IF (very big if)they succeeded. And it was often enough the final besieging response of a bloody, battered and frustrated army. #

    As far as realism (inasmuch as we can tell) in the movies, I suppose that "Gladiator"'s opening scenes are probably the most representative (based on my limited opinion) of Roman warfare. #It is a shame that more of the film was not occupied by the tactics of Roman warfare, even with its weaknesses. #And most films from the 50s seem way too cheesy. #Clanging swords, rearing horses, and shouting men with no semblance of what man-to-man fighting must have been like. #There is additonally scant attention to manipular formations and movement--hugely important aspects of successful Roman warmaking. #These films are simply platforms for their "stars" and have little reliable or instructuional value. #I think that the definitive Roman warfare film eludes us and is yet to be made.
    War is like love. #It always finds a way.
    --Bertholt Brecht

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    Member Member Nowake's Avatar
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    Gladiator opening scenes realistic? What about cavalry charging through the woods?


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    Member Member Hippolyte's Avatar
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    "Gladiator opening scenes realistic?"

    Realistic? #Inasmuch as Hollywood is presently capable of such a thing, yes. #I suppose I was ambiguously lauding the ambient qualities of the film rather than any specific details. #Perhaps, pr Fire, you are able to suggest a more representative film? #Of course, it's not like I didn't REPEATEDLY qualify this comment with:

    1-"realism (as far as we can tell)"
    2-the reluctant, "I suppose..."
    3-"probably the most representative"
    4-"(in my limited opinion)"
    5-"(even with its weaknesses)"-referring to "Gladiator"
    6-"I think that the definitive Roman warfare film eludes us is yet to be made."

    All things considering, I suppose you can see how I naturally assumed that this post would be virtually flameproof.



    I wish someone'd have called me on a much more obvious error. #It was not the Essenes in AD73 that defended the Masada fortress, but the Sicarii. #And the Roman legion that prosecuted the siege was Legion X, the "Fretensis." #They (the 10th) eventually resolved the siege by methodically constructing a colossal earthen ramp against the slope of the hill. Thought you were safe, huh? #
    War is like love. #It always finds a way.
    --Bertholt Brecht

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    Ancient Reluctant Conscript Senior Member A Nerd's Avatar
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    Astarex and Obalesk? Excuse spelling please.
    Silence is beautiful

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    Member Member DthB4Dishonor's Avatar
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    Wow, nice research Hippolyte. I would just like to add 1 more thing. The Romans were BRUTAL. Yeah, they show refined soldiers with British accents in the movies but they Roman Army was as cruel if not crueler than any army in its day. They would burn down entire cities as they did Carthage. Pillage burn rape kill and enslave all that they saw. This coupled with there ability to adapt and theyre taking of strategies, weapons and formations from other cultures is what made them great.

    In Masada they built a huge ramp and when at top they battered down the outer wall. They then faced a 2nd wall made of wood and reinforced with earth. This made it virtually batter proof. No sweat grab your zippos gentlemen we gonna have a fire.

    P.S. I know it is considered as propaganda by some but read Caesars campaign in Gaul. This was truly a thinking mans army.

    RTKPaul
    Also Known As: RTKPaul
    "I dont want you to die for your country, no poor son of a bitch ever won a war by dying for his country, he won it by making the other poor son of a bitch die for his country"- George S. Patton

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    Member Member Hippolyte's Avatar
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    The Romans were very determined indeed, RTKPaul. #Their intense and focused pragmatism was, I believe, unmatched by other armies in Antiquity. #One of the tales told of the destruction of Carthage suggests that the Romans actually sowed the fields with salt in order ensure that Carthage would never revive, like it had after the Second Punic War. #This is probably myth (the Romans built and colonized a "new" city upon the old), but there is an even more graphic illustration of their tenacity dating from this siege. #And this is also a lesson in contemporary urban warfare as well #

    One account describes how, after they'd begun to pour infantry into a breach, they were faced with stiff resistance because the city's roads and paths wound through multi-storied buildings. #This was a paradise for the Cathaginian defenders who took positions with excellent los (line-of-sight) and fired down upon the Roman infantry. #Narrow streets have always been a boon to defender's but the Romans took it in stride and responded with a typically labour intensive solution. #In their unrelenting and pratical manner, the Romans brough up hammererss who set to work reducing the obstructing buildings to rubble. #As the Romans progressed further and further into the town they reached a point where the elevation was too high for a massed assault. #They began to gather the rubble from the recently destroyed buildings, INCLUDING DEAD AND WOUNDED DEFENDERS, and adding mortar built a ramp literally upon the flesh of their opponents up to the city's next tier, to enable a massed assault. Unspeakably base and horrible? #Incredibly so. #Imagine the irony for those unlucky souls who died ever so slowly ensconced within the makeshift road, literally with their dying gasps providing the invaders with a path straight to their wives, children and homes

    And we should keep in mind that the Romans did witness many of their own captured soldiers being terribly tortured upon the walls of Carthage by the Carthaginians prior to the successful storming (so say some), specifically to illustrate the price the Romans would have to pay for taking the city as well as showing Carthaginians the "no going back mentality" required of them. #There would and could be no quarter after this. #And however brutal the Romans were, and they were indeed quite brutal (even by our competitive standards), when the final Carthaginian defense was breached, tales of atrocities amongst the surrendering population (about 50,000 civilians) are not overwhelming. #Of course, they (the Carthaginians--now Roman property) were immediately put on ships and shipped to Rome to begin their lives anew as Roman slaves.


    Yes, the Roman war machine seems to have always found a way.
    War is like love. #It always finds a way.
    --Bertholt Brecht

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    Member Member Gaius Julius's Avatar
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    The Robe
    Quo Vadis
    Demetrius and the Gladiators

    These aren't exactly Roman war films, but they do illustrate Rome during it's height.
    e tu Brute

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    Member Member Hippolyte's Avatar
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    Another excellent TV series was "I Claudius", done by the BBC (up until the nineties, the BBC was tops in my book). This series is based on the works of Robert Graves; one of the foremost historians of Antiquity. As the title suggests it takes place within Rome and describes the transition from Republic to Empire, using Claudius's descriptions and characterizations of his family and peers. Although it has no battle scenes and is pure drama, it is nontheless magnificent. It, along with the Sharpe series, got me through the tedium that is Teachers' College.
    War is like love. #It always finds a way.
    --Bertholt Brecht

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    Member Member DthB4Dishonor's Avatar
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    I know what series your talking about Hippolyte. It was very interesting for me also. Although I only caught it on occasion since I live in US. In retrospect it was like an old Soprano series. Alot of cruel political shifting and power plays a real attention grabber.

    RTKPaul
    Also Known As: RTKPaul
    "I dont want you to die for your country, no poor son of a bitch ever won a war by dying for his country, he won it by making the other poor son of a bitch die for his country"- George S. Patton

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    Member Member Crimson Castle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Hippolyte @ April 14 2003,19:45)]The Romans were very determined indeed, RTKPaul. #Their ...
    Well, as you also pointed out too, the Carthagians were very brutal and used to sacrifice their children to their altars. One historians I read said that the Carthagian's brutality was one reason why Rome's allies did not desert when Hannibal ran amok in Italy.
    _
    The more the words, the less the meaning and how does that benefit anyone? BIBLE: Ecclesiates 6:11

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    Guest Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Arrow

    Moved to the home of cinema, the monastery.
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