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  • Colosseum - A Gladiator's Story/Pompeii - The Last Day
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Colosseum - A Gladiator's Story/Pompeii - The Last Day

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DVD 2-Disc Version
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Travel back in time to the glamour and bloodshed of ancient Rome's gladiatorial world, where men fought for their lives to satisfy the whims of emperors and a bloodthirsty populace. Combining compelling narrative with state-of-the-art computer graphics and high-quality drama reconstruction, this production throws new light on the way gladiators really fought and trained, and reveals that many of them were the superstars of their age. Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story revolves around the true story of Verus, who rises from slave to star gladiator, but who faces the ultimate challenge in one of the very few gladiatorial fights that was recorded and described by contemporary writers. Discover Verus' story, live his journey and experience his quest for freedom.


Ridley Scott's Gladiator is a great movie, but Colosseum: A Gladiator's Story has the distinct advantage of purely historical accuracy. The Roman gladiator whose story is told here is Verus (played by charismatic British hunk Robert Shannon), one of two victors in the only gladiatorial battle that was ever described in detail (by the Roman poet Martial in 80 A.D.). Using this factual record as its basis, Colosseum follows Verus as he is recruited from slavery, trained in gladiator's school, rises to favor among wealthy Romans, and ultimately battles his best friend, Priscus (Derek Lea), to a crowd-pleasing draw in the inaugural games of glorious, brand-new Colosseum, the construction of which is shown in fascinating detail. Combining authoritative narration with diary-like voiceovers from Verus's perspective, this riveting 50-minute BBC production is simultaneously intimate and epic in scale, employing the latest in digital compositing techniques to achieve its unparalleled (for TV, at least) visual splendor. With well-cast actors speaking authentic Latin, this sumptuous production is both dramatically involving and exacting in every detail.

Just as convincing--and just as impressive in its use of cutting-edge CGI--is the 50-minute bonus program Pompeii: The Final Day, which chronicles the final 24 hours of Pompeii when it was decimated by the ultraviolent eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D. Inspired by the written descriptions of Pliny the Younger (whose detailed observations were later vindicated by geological science), recovered artifacts, and the haunting remains of Pompeii citizens preserved under tons of pumice and ash, Pompeii is first-rate from start to finish, proving yet again that the BBC is now setting the standard in lavishly produced docudrama programming. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Bonus program: Pompeii: The Last Day (50 mins.)
  • Interviews with the filmmakers
  • A Composer's Story
  • Fact Files
  • Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Alisdair Simpson, Tim Pigott-Smith, Jim Carter, Jonathan Firth, Rebecca Clarke
  • Directors: Peter Nicholson, Tilman Remme
  • Writers: Peter Nicholson, Chris Ould, Edward Canfor-Dumas, Georgann Kane, Steven Manuel
  • Producers: Ailsa Orr
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • DVD Release Date: November 2, 2004
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00017LVKA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,122 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Colosseum - A Gladiator's Story/Pompeii - The Last Day" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Great for middle or high school students.
D. Stakenas
I'd recommend to anyone interested in Classical history.
Prof Wombat
Useful for students of Roman history or archaeology.
Alisa Rose

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 26, 2004
Format: DVD
A realistic docu-drama, this is a telling of the building of Rome's Colosseum which started under the rule of Emperor Vespasian and was completed by his son and heir Titus in 80 AD. It also shows the training of the gladiators, many who were slaves, but a few who would trade their liberty for a period of time for money, and sometimes fame.
The decadence and brutality of the Roman games, as well the brave and desperate men who were the entertainment, make for a riveting story;
The central figure is a historical gladiator by the name of Verus, who was a slave working in a quarry when chosen for the arena. Robert Shannon is good in the part, exhibiting much physical prowess, grace and style.
Filmed in Tunisia, it boasts the latest technological wizardry to duplicate the Colosseum and the audience, using matte paintings and crowd replication among other techniques.
Produced and directed by Tilman Remme, the dialog is in Latin, and the narration by Liev Schreiber, whose modulated voice is always a pleasure to listen to.
Having seen the empty shell of what is left of this extraordinary structure as it stands today, I found this recreation fascinating and informative, with enough drama and action to make it interesting for repeated viewings.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By E. Peplow on February 6, 2005
Format: DVD
First of all, let me express my feelings on this movie-WOW! This DVD has a narrator that pops in and out leading the viewer through the lives of some of Pompeii's citizens. He then lets you basically enter into their lives and you somewhat feel that you are watching the "mountain" (they did not know it was a volcano in 79 AD) explode. I was really moved just seeing how people dealt with this disaster. The movie also shows the artifacts of today linking them with the characters in the story. They also show the casts of the people as they lived out their last minutes on Earth. Let me say that this is one of the best movies out there. You will not be disapointed. Even to the guys that like action flicks, I think you will like this one since it is a TRUE story. For the gals out there, you will also love it as I did since it is a dramatization of something TRUE. I usually don't buy just any movie, but I am definately glad that this is one I spent money on. ENJOY!
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A. Verlay on February 18, 2005
Format: DVD
...but not the one shown on the Discovery Channel though.

All the reviews you are going to read below are excellent, this DVD is a very good combo (the gladiator documentary is also of very good quality) extras are numerous and interesting.

HOWEVER the version played on TV was 1 hour 40 minutes long instead of the English version of 50 minutes we have on this DVD. The editing is different, the music is different, the narrator is different (american accent). There is a 50 minutes additional part with all the actual site of Pompeii and it's dangers to the new cities that were built since the eruption which is also very informative.

Both versions, English and American are very good, I guess you just have to make your own opinion when you'll see a reprise of the show on TV (or you can still go on the discovery web site to find the American version DVD which does not include the Gladiator combo...)

It's time Amazon.com start providing the DVDs from this source as well, because if you are interested in Documentaries you don't have access to all choices available just by visiting their website right now...
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Eric Kondratieff on March 6, 2006
Format: DVD
Both of these programs are very well done. I have shown both of them to my university students (survey course on Ancient Cities / Ancient Civ., and Roman History), and they not only learned from them, but found them compelling as well.

In particular, my students appreciated the Pompeii program because it brought home to them the magnitude of human suffering in this disaster, as well as the helplessness and ineffectiveness of well-intentioned government officials attempting to intervene (e.g., Pliny the Elder, who sailed into the conflagration with a Roman fleet to rescue survivors, only to be overcome and suffocated by Vesuvius' poisonous fumes). It was especially poignant in view of the Katrina disaster that had overwhelmed New Orleans mere weeks before they saw this program. Especially effective is how the program follows actors portraying specific, historically-documented individuals and families of Pompeii (all drawn from various walks of life, e.g., merchants, politicians, gladiators, and slaves; men, women and children) through the different phases of Vesuvius' eruption. The final images, showing the actors in various positions of death recreated from and juxtaposed with images of the skeletons or body casts of the actual individuals just as they were found, are particularly moving. They also serve as a powerful reminder of one's own mortality... so this show is perhaps not for anyone in the throes of a midlife crisis!

The Gladiator program also does well in fleshing out the lives of Rome's professional blood-sport combatants beyond the arena. One learns how and by whom they were trained and cared for and what their daily lives could be like.
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