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I, Claudius (35th Anniversary Edition)

4.8 out of 5 stars 283 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

"A true masterpiece" —San Francisco Chronicle "Fiendishly sophisticated" —The New York Times "Handsomely produced, grandly acted, and…thoroughly involving" —The Washington Post "Irresistible, witty" —Los Angeles Times

Rated one of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time" by Time magazine, this epic BBC series spans the history of the Roman Empire from Augustus through Claudius, a stuttering scholar who learns early to play the fool and stay alive. Based on the novels by Robert Graves, it stars Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech, Cadfael) in a career-defining role. Siân Phillips (The Age of Innocence) is “exquisitely wicked” (Los Angeles Times) as the lethal Livia, wife to Augustus (Brian Blessed, Hamlet), while John Hurt (The Elephant Man) is "decadence personified" (USA Today) as the depraved Caligula, whose reign of terror paves the way for Claudius’s ascension.

Winner of an Emmy® and numerous other awards, this riveting tale of ambition, debauchery, and intrigue remains one of the most popular and acclaimed dramas in Masterpiece Theatre history. Patrick Stewart (X-Men), George Baker (The Ruth Rendell Mysteries), Margaret Tyzack (Cousin Bette), and James Faulkner (The Bank Job) also star.

Special Features

BONUS Extended original versions of episodes 1 (52 min.) and 2 (52 min.); "I, Claudius": A Television Epic, a behind-the-scenes look at the series (74 min.); The Epic That Never Was, a documentary recounting the failed 1937 film adaptation (71 min.); Derek Jacobi interview (12 min.); favorite scenes of the cast and director (36 min.); and an 8-page booklet with an article about the series’ historical accuracy amd a Julio-Claudian family tree

SDH subtitles

Contains violence, nudity, and sexual content

Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.

Product Details

  • Actors: Sian Phillips, Derek Jacobi, Patrick Stewart, John Hurt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2012
  • Run Time: 668 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (283 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006JY3OHW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,177 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Cut scenes return, alternate openings provided, SUBTITLES available, and picture is as fine as can be provided from the 1976 epic. A booklet provides accuracy data & a genealogical tree that is a remarkable value for keeping the characters straight through the 78 year time period. The 35th Anniversary Edition is the set to own, by JOVE.

100s of reviews inform you of the content: An insatiable quest for power among Roman Emperor generations makes the story compelling. It's full of dastardly evolution. The Claudian Dynasty BBC spectacle filled with incest, base perversion and murder perpetrated within the royal family but presented with the historical humor of the 1930s Robert Graves novels. Augusta thru Nero, a plague of Roman Emperors, is a story supposedly told through the buried family story written by Claudius, exposing truth and sinister acts within the outlandish and intrigue filled generations. The film version includes the Graves' toga-talking slang, made a TV epic through the masterful writing of Jack Pulman. Through Roman period sexual twists (nudity, violence, and content warnings are correct throughout) viewers find humor in bizarre conduct, and jocular dialogue.

Aligning with stellar writing was casting. Derek Jacobi shines as perfect here as he did as Cadfael. Augustus (Brian Blessed) & wife, Beautiful, evil Livia by Sian Phillips (Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy), & her son Tiberius (George Baker -Ruth Rendell Mysteries). Add Claudius' mom, Antonia by Margaret Tyzack (Cousin Bette, Forsyte Saga). Caligula by John Hurt, Sejanus by Patrick Stewart (Star Trek), Nero by Christopher Biggins (Poldark), Narcissus (John Cater -Duchess of Duke Street), Ian Ogilvy (Upstairs, Downstairs) are a few more recognized. There is more.
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Format: DVD
Both picture and sound quality are much improved over the previous Image sets. The content is as complete as is possible to get, minus the absence of the Alistair Cooke Intro's which were part of the Masterpiece Theatre presentations, but not the BBC. Subtitles are included, but the sound is so clear and natural that unless you are hearing impaired I doubt you will require them. Unlike the Users who feel inclined to write about something they've never seen, I have in fact seen an advanced review copy.

I wish there was some way to have Amazon disallow comments from people who have no acquaintance with the product they write about, but such is the way of things - for now.
10 Comments 144 of 151 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
WAIT! All of these reviews, plus negative comments, go back to 2005, 2000, and refer to earlier, cut versions, or the 2-disc, squeezed one!

They do NOT refer to the new Acorn Media, reg.1, release on FIVE DISCS, due out on March 27, 2012.

Acorn includes the extended original episodes 1 and 2 and wonderful special features, e.g. THE EPIC THAT NEVER WAS, introduced by the superb British actor Dirk Bogarde plus other extras, such as the Derek Jacobi interview, an 8-page booklet, etc.

I, Claudius was a fascinating series, and its seems that Acorn Media is doing justice to it.
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Format: DVD
SINISTER MUSIC plays and a viper slithers across a Roman mosaic. It's the opening credits of "I, Claudius," a historical series of the Roman Empire based on the novels by Robert Graves. Uneasy lays the Caesar who wears the laurel crown and everyone around him. Snakes are everywhere in this 1976 BBC production starring a young Derek Jacobi in his signature role as Claudius, John Hurt as nephew Caligula, and Siân Phillips as the remarkably evil Livia, Claudius' grandmother, and they are fascinating.

It was Emmy nominated for Outstanding Limited Series and Direction in a Drama Series for Herbert Wise; it won for Art Direction in a Drama Series. The series influenced modern filmmakers and has become a part of our own pop culture. David Chase modeled Tony Soprano's manipulative mother, Livia, after - guess who - Livia of "I, Claudius." And, like Tony, no one has a more miserable rise to power than Livia's son, Tiberius (George Baker). Ridley Scott references Claudius in "Gladiator," when Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) cruelly persuades his sister to betray Maximus (Russell Crowe).

Originally presented in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theatre in an edited format, this 35th Anniversary Edition from Acorn Media is a treat. The film is uncut, providing an extra 10 minutes for a 98-minute combination of episodes one and two. More scenes never broadcast in America are scattered throughout. The new material shows more violence and nudity amidst the story of four Caesars of the Julio-Claudian dynasty: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius, who was followed by Nero (We get to meet him near the end of the series).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I had great memories of seeing "I, Claudius" when it premiered 35 years ago, but it was with some trepidation that I ordered the newly released version. Sometimes a work doesn't live up to the memories, especially with the improvement in filming techniques since the 1970s.

I needn't have worried. "I, Claudius" is still gripping entertainment, sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous and always interesting. Yes, it does come across more like a stage play than a movie, and if it were done now it probably would be closer to HBO's "Rome" series, with more sex and gore. But you don't need to see everything to know what's going on. The empress Livia is still manipulative and an "evil woman," to quote Claudius as he looks back on his life. Augustus, seen toward the latter part of his reign, is as crafty as ever, but still no match for his wife in that regard.

Claudius, seen as a fool by most of his family because of his physical disabilities, is smart enough to survive, and become emperor, by playing the fool and not being seen as competition to Caligula and others. Since the imperial family had a habit of doing away with those who threatened them, this was an important skill.

This version also has a disc with more than three hours of extra features, including the making of the series, an interview with star Derek Jacobi and favorite scenes of the cast and director.
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Transfers on the Anniversary edition same as 2008 release??
The features that are new to Acorn's 2012 DVD release (vs. the 2008 one from Image) include a newly filmed interview with Derek Jacobi and a BBC documentary about the series from 2002 among others.
Mar 29, 2012 by DPK |  See all 8 posts
Not very much. Some bare breasts, that's about it. If you're expecting anything like the movie 'Caligula' it's a far cry from that. Remember, this was filmed in the 70s for BBC. Was pretty graphic for TV back in those days but not so much by today's standards.
Aug 2, 2013 by venussansfurs |  See all 2 posts
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