http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/mann.htm
USA 1964

Though lacking the mythic clarity of El Cid - Mann's other epic for Samuel Bronston - this is a superior example of the genre. Deserting the usual conflict of Christians and Romans, the story moves to a later era and charts the intrigues surrounding the Imperial throne, held by Marcus Aurelius and coveted by the corrupt Commodus, that led to the Romans' downfall at the hands of the Barbarians. Largely accurate in historical terms, thanks to a wordy but intelligent script by Philip Yordan (a master of the epic style), it is surprisingly restrained, both in terms of action and acting. But the atmosphere is consistently convincing: darkness holds sway on the fringes of the Empire, where the armies are struggling to repel the invading hordes, while Rome is presented as a magnificent but decadent monument to the unimaginative pragmatism of the Roman mind. Terrific sets, a stirring score by Dimitri Tiomkin and the overall quality of the production values manage to counteract the film's excessive length.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

In an era when "Spartacus", "Cleopatra" or "Ben-Hur" were blossoming on the big screen, Anthony Mann's swan song epic "The Fall of the Roman Empire" seems sadly forgotten. With dynamic Ultra Panavision 70 cinematography and production on a grand scale (At 1312 by 754 ft., the Roman Forum still holds the record as the largest outdoor set ever built for a film!) it remains a quiet giant. Modern day audiences should immediately notice the similarities to Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" with the same historical references, time-frame and characters (Lucilla, Marcus Aurelius, Timonides and Commodus) - the forest battle with the barbarians is particularly reminiscent and it's easily noticed that the dubious 2000 Oscar winner exists only after standing on the shoulders of this better acted but less effects-stacked drama. For its anonymity "The Fall of the Roman Empire" remains a wonderful surprise filling the screen with visions of pure Hollywood over-production where its slight lack of narrative bonding is highlighted by its grandiose style and noble charisma. Any fans keen on the consistent climb of Anthony Mann from "Strange Impersonation" will beam at this Romanesque-genre completion to his often unrecognized career. The master of many a genre took on two Samuel Bronston epics as his finale (this and El Cid). I miss his cinema and long for more of his subtle and gracious films in which imitators are conspicuously absent in today's theatres.

Gary W. Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 24th, 1964

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Comparison:

Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Miriam Collection (Weinstein/Genius) 2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Koch Media (3-disc Deluxe Edition) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - LEFT

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Tohokushinsha Corp.- Region 0 - NTSC Genius Products (Miriam Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC

Koch Media

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

There is also a 'Limited Collector's Edition' of The Fall Of The Roman Empire coming out on the same day. Like the Miriam Collection of El Cid , I expect the digital supplements to be duplicated but the 'Limited' edition should have some trinkets like postcards, a souvenir program etc. It is approx. $10 more.

            

NOTE: Mel Martin has told us: "..., the third disc in the set is quite interesting.. it is 3 educational films Bronston allowed to be shot on the sets, using some costumes from the film. It shows some more of the amazing sets from
different angles than were seen in the film, and more interiors that were built but not used."

Runtime 2:59:30  1:29:06 + 1:35:57 = 3:04:51 3:05:30.118
Video 2.32:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.33 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.23 mb/s 6.66 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,425,642,264 bytes

Feature: 38,382,329,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  Japanese Edition

Bitrate: Miriam Collection Disc 1

Bitrate:  Miriam Collection Disc 2

Bitrate:  Miriam Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround)  English (Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround)  DTS-HD Master Audio English 2277 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2277 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1731 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1731 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio German 1735 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1735 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles Japanese, None English, Spanish, None German, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Tohokushinsha Corp.

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.32:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical trailer
• Introduction (Japanese text screen)
• Cast and Crew (Japanese text screen)

DVD Release Date: February 27th, 2003

Keep Case
Chapters: 28

Release Information:
Studio: Genius Products

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Feature commentary by the producer's son Bill Bronston and film expert Mel Martin
•  Rome in Madrid featurette (1964 promotional film) (29:12)

• Trailer Gallery  - El Cid, Fall of the Roman Empire, Cinema Paradiso and Control

• Still gallery (Behind the Scenes and Promotional galleries)

Filmographies of director and 13 cast

Disc 2
•  Fall of the "Real" Roman Empire featurette (10:56)
•  The Rise and Fall of a Production - The Making of Fall Of The Roman Empire featurette (29:12)
•  Hollywood vs. History featurette (9:45)
•  Dimitri Tiomkin: Scoring the Roman Empire (20:04)

• About this film (text message)

DVD Release Date: April 29th, 2008

Double-lock Keep Case
Chapters: 22 + 18 = 40

Release Information:
Studio: Koch (Germany)

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,425,642,264 bytes

Feature: 38,382,329,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Feature commentary by the producer's son Bill Bronston and film expert Mel Martin
•  Rome in Madrid featurette (1964 promotional film) (29:12)

• Trailer Gallery  - El Cid, Fall of the Roman Empire, Cinema Paradiso and Control

• Still gallery (Behind the Scenes and Promotional galleries)

Filmographies of director and 13 cast

Disc 2
•  Fall of the "Real" Roman Empire featurette (10:56)
•  The Rise and Fall of a Production - The Making of Fall Of The Roman Empire featurette (29:12)
•  Hollywood vs. History featurette (9:45)
•  Dimitri Tiomkin: Scoring the Roman Empire (20:04)

• About this film (text message)

Disc 3 - Digital Copy (Called 'Copy-To-Go')

Blu-ray Release Date: August 21st, 2009
Standard Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 18

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION Koch Media (Germany) Blu-ray - August 2009: This 70mm classic fares far better than, the oft paired, El Cid on Blu-ray. It appropriately appears to have more depth once pushed through 1080P resolution although seems to be from the same source as the Weinstein (it even starts with the 'Miriam Edition' logo). It could be the grander scale but this sure looks more 'theatrical' to moi. There is a significant jump in detail but suspect this may still be from 35mm (as opposed to 70) as it can look a bit less crystal clear than one might hope considering the almost 40 Gig size. Overall this has some healthy superiority over the SD-DVDs and is one film that really benefits from the move to HD. Sophia Loren is even more mesmerizing (if that's possible) in the higher resolution.

Audio also trounces the SD counterparts with two DTS-HD Master options in both 5.1 and 2.0 with over 2000 kbps each. This is most notable in Tiomkin's noble score with deep resounding organ bass and lilting violin strings all sounding quite wonderful. There is a German DUB (default) and optional German subtitles and my Momitsu has determined that this is, indeed, region 'B'-locked.

A second disc (dual-layered DVD) with all the extras of the Miriam Region 1 package is included - plus another 'Copy-To-Go' Digital version for use with portable devices... although I still wonder who the hell would watch this 2.35 scope film on a tiny iPod or Blackberry screen?

A positive note is that the film starts immediately upon pushing in the disc - no bothersome adverts or cumbersome menus and it's wonderful to have the full 3-hour film on one accessible disc. For those who may ask - yes, the dual-layered Blu-ray has the 'Overture, Intermission and Exit' music included. I think the improved detail, depth and audio are the most notable reasons to indulge. They certainly don't make films like this anymore. Fans of this epic will, no doubt, be quite pleased with this vastly superior presentation.  

***

ADDITION: Miriam Collection - April 2008 - Obviously, by looking, the new 'Miriam Collection' digital rendition, spread over two dual-layered discs, is far superior to the Tohokushinsha Japanese release from 2003. It is the second release of "The Miriam Collection" label (dedicated to their mother by the Weinstein Brothers) - the first being El Cid (released in January of this year).  The colors come to life quite satisfyingly although skin tones can occasionally tend toward the reddish/orange. It is free of the extensive dirt (and more noise) on the Japanese edition and is much brighter. Compared to that release it is truly 'night and day'. The Japanese edition is also cropped a shade on the right edge. It's really no contest as evidenced by the screen grabs below.

NOTE: The Miriam edition has the musical interludes (hence the 5 minute longer running time). The Japanese has the opening music but only on a blank screen. It has no mid-break (intermission) or exit music.

Audio is given in a fairly strong (original) 4.0 track with optional English (CC) or Spanish subtitles.

Extras: First off in the supplements we have a commentary by the producer's son Bill Bronston and Bronston biographer Mel Martin (author of The Magnificent Showman-The Epic Films of Samuel Bronston). It starts with the claim that there has been no home video of this film available since the LaserDisc of the 90's - which we now know is inaccurate (they obviously don't surf Beaver). There are plenty of gaps as the film is so long to try to fill with a running commentary. When the two do chat - it's not bad - stuff about doing this film in Spain (as courted by the Spanish tourism board) and how it revived the community it was produced with so many jobs for craftsmen creating the sets and so on - the enormity of the production that flowed almost directly from El Cid with the same crew etc. How Heston, Richard Harris (coincidentally later playing Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator) and Kirk Douglas were pursued for the lead role - each rejecting for a different reason. Briefly mentioned is how Gladiator is a virtual remake of the film. It's a fairly good commentary but I actually prefer just watching the film (again) than listen to the informative interruptions. Also on disc one we have a 30 minute featurette 'Rome in Madrid' showcasing the enormity of the set design. There is a Trailer Gallery with El Cid, Fall of the Roman Empire, Cinema Paradiso and Control, some stills galleries (a 'Behind the Scenes' and another 'Promotional' one). Finally on disc one - text filmographies of director and 13 member of the cast.

Disc 2 continues the commentary and there are 4 more featurettes - Fall of the "Real" Roman Empire (10:56), The Rise and Fall of a Production - The Making of Fall Of The Roman Empire featurette (29:12), Hollywood vs. History featurette (9:45) and an interesting one about Dimitri Tiomkin and Scoring the Roman Empire (20:04).

Wow! - stacked and of all the Bronston films I have seen - this is probably my favorite. The Weinstein's appear to spare little expense and I know fans will truly enjoy the loaded presentation. You couldn't ask for much more and less than $20 seems like excellent value. We recommend!  

***

ON THE JAPANESE RELEASE: This is a fairly dirty image from Japanese DVD production - anamorphic and progressive.  NOTE: Gordon has warned us that his Japanese ordered copy of El Cid is actually region 2 now - I can assure you that mine is region 0, but when we find out about the discrepancy we will let you know.

I found the Dimitri Tiomkin soundtrack a little overpowering at times as I cocked and ear to discern the dialogue, but I imagine this was how it was meant to be. On this DVD there is 4.0 surround audio and removable Japanese subtitles.

This is definitely the edition to own and to quote DVD times HERE - "The Region 2 release from Universal UK is a travesty. Not only is it grainy and packed with artifacting, it's also severely cropped from 2.35:1 to 1.66:1. For an RRP of 17.99 it's a bad joke. So, to sum up that point, DO NOT BUY THE UNIVERSAL UK RELEASE OF THIS FILM."

We recommend this Japanese DVD release until it is done (properly) in region 1.   

NOTE: We have reviewed 3 more similarly decent Japanese DVD releases (El Cid, 55 Days at Peking and Circus World) to include in a possible group order from Amazon Japan or Yesasia.com.  

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus

 

(Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Genius Products (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)


 
 

 

Disc 2 (Miriam Collection)

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

NOTE: May not be exact frame

 

1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


NOTE: May not be exact frame
 

1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Tohokushinsha - Region 0 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Miriam Collection - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution Tohokushinsha Corp.- Region 0 - NTSC Genius Products (Miriam Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC

Koch Media

Region 'B' - Blu-ray





 

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Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

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