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[*] posted on 28-1-2006 at 14:13
"Fviends, Countvymen, Vomans!"

Been watching an HBO series that airs on Canal+ lately... Rome.
It depicts (partially made up) events that lead to Ceasars rise to the throne...

Made by the people who also made Six Feet Under, I find this one an excellent series. The depiction of Rome as a depraved state and morals being completely different from our modern ones.
Most people assume that the Romans where a highly moral society, with higher values and finer words used.
This might be true, but only if one conciders that Higher Morals and Values isn't te same as OUR morals and values.

So far its not shown that much of Cities outside of slumareas so I cant tell if the depiction of the "nicer" areas of the State of Rome is fully correct (what with all them marble statues being painted and so on, rather then white, which still seem to be the most common missconception).

They have picked up quite some less known tidbits that they use in this story...for instance the fact that Cato, the Senator, was the only Senator to wear a non-traditional toga in black (the senate wore white togae with red or purple border lines depending on status and origin of Senatorship).

I hear that this one got quite some critiscism in the US for its explicit scenes, apparently one of the things concidered the worst was the first sexual scene, in which a large part of the houshold is watching as Caesars sister Atia is having sex with a nobleman just to get a horse.

Personally I didnt find that as crude as when Marcus Antonius (Mark Anthony....bleh) gets rid of his frustration three hours outside of Rome on a shepherd girl. With the notion from his men that he isn't shaming himself since he is not "currently under the standard". What with being next to the road and the standard still being carried on the road....

Its more then just sex though, it is ver much like Deadwood in its crudeness and realism, but there is a whole story there that has a meaning.

Otherwise the evenings get spent on watching Red Dwarf reruns on BBC Prime, Fimbles in the morning and trying to get as much "quality time" out of it all as possible...

But still very realistic.

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[*] posted on 28-1-2006 at 14:51
You can't rule out some of the aspects of life...

From what I know about so-called puritan morality I gather it's trying to deny existence of darker sides of the world: "Be nice", "No sex" etc. It might have roots in theology of St. Augustine, which became one of the cornerstones of protestantism: following the reasoning of Plotinus, St. Augustine decided that Good equals Being, and Evil equals Non-Being. It proved to be a succesful argument against Manichean dualism; however, it cannot be defended in the face of non-speculative reality we're forced to face in our daily life.

The reasoning as one described above results in hypocrisy; if we're not to deny it on basis of our daily experience, we have to pretend that the world is as perfect as the model assumes. Any attempts to bring the truth to light are met with strong opposition - how come a human being can posess such a lowly drive? Augustinian - and plotinian - theologies sprang from one of the most inherent drives of human reason: to bring down complexity of the surrounding world down to easily understandable, hierarchic structure of being where unity would be the main principle behind the workings of Universe, rather than other way around.

I recently read Lem's "High castle"; scattered among the memories of his childhood in Lwow were reflections on how human mind tries to induce order into surrounding chaos of the Universe. Same reflection can be found in Charles Fort "Book of the damned": we're afraid of chaotic and irrational both within and without our own selves. That's why we're putting so much effort in denying it; lest the fragile shell we call society would fall apart.

Not that I'm calling for abadonning civilisation in favor of beastly state; nor would I encourage establishing strict, oppresive system in order to beat human beings into becoming angels. Humankind already tried both these ways, and I think that in our quest to establish norms that would satisfy both rational and irrational aspects of our nature we're as close as we have ever been in history of our species. Bear in mind that human being will always be characterised by a paradox: paradox is something inherently human, and as long as we won't throw it aside, our problems will persist. When we do, on the other hand, we cease being humans. We're at the same time cruel and caring, social and individual, rational and irrational; we create religions, abolish them, then turn back towards them when it turns out that our scientific findings about nature of the world provide very little consolation.

And as long as this situation will continue, extreme christian right-wing will criticise movies like "Rome" for showing this part of ourselves we'd rather like to forget, while some of us will revel in seeing our darker thoughts and desires projected onto TV screen.

We eat, shit, sleep, and get up;
This is our world.
All we have to do after that
Is to die.

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[*] posted on 28-1-2006 at 15:46
The 1st season recently ended on our TV. I watched every episode and enjoyed it, but couldn't help feeling it could have been so much more. There is something very wrong with the pace of the whole thing, with each episode containing plot material enough for an entire season. The inevitable comparison is to Deadwood, which is twice as engaging at half the speed. Given how much history Rome has already ploughed through in season 1, I was wondering whether they were even planning on making a second.

This is probably a result of the BBC's investment in the show. They stumped up half the funds and gave it a 9pm timeslot, meaning they were trying to attract the Eastenders audience - people who would hardly appreciate something with the restrained pace of Deadwood. I recall hearing that one or more of the original producers disowned the show precisely because of the horrible editing job demanded by the higher-ups.

A good show that could have been a great show, IMO. Hopefully they will re-edit it for DVD some time in the future.

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[*] posted on 30-1-2006 at 03:21
yes, i watched the first seven or so episodes of Rome and after that i got bored and didnt bother with the rest. and they didn't really go through all that much history in those episodes - up to the point where ptolemy gets killed in egypt? plenty of material even after caeser gets killed.

i'm not a big fan of tv shows to start with, tho they seem to be getting better lately. apparently Rome was still way better than the other Roman tv show (Empire? or something?), which i didnt even bother with. i agree it could have been much better - better editing, better battle scenes - you know, something a bit more.

having said that, good on them for trying to portray the morals and lifestyles more realistically. it was mostly the emperors who were COMPLETELY debauched and perverted, but it's good they don't flinch from slavery and the priveliges of the rich.

and seriously, kids, our western civilization is vastly superior to Roman civilization, illustrated by the simple fact that we have both democracy and effective city planning - at the same time!
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