Thursday, February 04, 2016

Dvd/150: I CLAUDIUS (Herbert Wise. 1976, tv)

40 years on, the BBC series of Robert Graves' I CLAUDIUS shines bright with it's dazzling cast and Jack Pulman's witty, concise adaptation - a textbook example in bringing a sprawling novel to life.

Filmed on BBC TV Centre sets, budgetary constraints allow Herbert Wise to concentrate on the interplay between the characters - and what characters!

Derek Jacobi is outstanding as Claudius who, in old age, writes the history of the emperors in his Imperial family from Augustus to himself, along with the formidable women they married or were murdered by!  Stuttering, lame Claudius is the family joke but survives them all to bear witness.

Of course it's the monsters one remembers: John Hurt's psychotic Caligula and the equally dangerous Livia, sublimely played by Sian Phillips in one of the great television performances.

Brian Blessed's avuncular Augustus, Margaret Tyzack's stoic Antonia and Sheila White's lascivious Messalina are among the other treasures.

Shelf or charity shop? You must be as mad as Caligula to think I would part with this!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I don't know if you realise, I'm one of the Nubian dancers in the first scene.

Nicola Blackman.