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I, Claudius

4.5 out of 5 stars 360 customer reviews

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(Dec 02, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Roman history comes alive in this magnificent 13-part series. I, Claudius ranks among the most acclaimed productions in television history. Tracing the lives of the last of the Roman emperors, it's an epic of ruthless ambition, shocking debauchery and murderous intrigue set in one of history's most fascinating eras. Bearing witness to the saga is Claudius, whose stutter and limp have marked him a fool--yet whom prophesies have foretold will one day rule Rome.

This collector's edition set includes a unique documentary feature, The Epic That Never Was (1965, 71 min.), a remarkable behind-the-scenes look at Alexander Korda's ill-fated 1937 screen adaptation of I, Claudius. Starring Merle Oberon and Charles Laughton, the chronicle of this uncompleted masterpieces is an unforgettable coda to one of the greatest stories ever told.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, George Baker
  • Directors: Herbert Wise
  • Writers: Jack Pulman, Robert Graves
  • Producers: Martin Lisemore
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 669 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (360 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001FRNB9O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,797 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "I, Claudius" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Beav on October 10, 2005
Format: DVD
Many important scenes have been cut (censored?) from the original Masterpiece Theater version including the contest between Claudius' wife and the prostitute, Caligula's horse Incitatus being made senator, and others. These omissions sacrifice the overall continuity and flow. These omissions are unnecessary and unforgivable given the DVD format. A general disappointment for those who remember the original version. Other than the above this is highly enjoyable.
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Format: DVD
I bought the DVD boxed set fully aware that this was a 24 year old made-for-TV production. I was therefore expecting perhaps a "flat" look with mono sound and muted colours.
What I didn't expect was that image-entertainment/CBS would (apparently) cut the DVD from a bad second(+) generation video tape - rather than the presumably superior BBC master.
The sound is muffled and the picture has noticeable ghosting. There are no sub-titles so the DVD has to be viewed with the sound on full blast. To be fair to IE/CBS this was true when I watched the series on BBC TV on its first broadcast.
Given the (unfortunately) limited market for quality drama in the US I wouldn't expect the full George Lucas treatment. However, why could not IE/CBS (a) get hold of a better master; (b) spend a little money on cleaning up the soundtrack/image; (c) provide sub-titles?
Buy it anyway because you'll forget the technical limitations within minutes as you become totally absorbed in this wonderful drama.
I note that "The 6 Wives of Henry VIII" (which I intend to purchase) is distributed by "BFS". I hope they've done a better job than IE/CBS and that they will be releasing "Elizabeth R" when the time comes.
Amazon should have separate content/technical ratings for DVDs.
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Format: VHS Tape
I, Claudius, Robert Graves' great book about the Caesars, was brought to television in this BBC series starring Derek Jacobi as the crippled, stuttering Emperor Claudius, narrator of the story. Jacobi is brillian in this role - going from young boy to old man as the series progresses. Other standouts are Sian Phillips as Livia, the evil wife of Augustus, Brian Blessed as Augustus himself in a wonderfully understated performance, and John Hurt as the insane Emperor Caligula in a performance that is abolutely over the top.
I have no idea how many times I have watched this series. I have never grown tired of it. The story of the Caesars - of the competition, corruption, assassinations, intrigue, political and military turmoil, family tragedy and human comedy - never fails to entertain. This series has a little bit of everything that all good stories have, great plot, fascinating characters, multiple conflicts, moments of drama and moments of comedy - and it is all (mostly) true.
One doesn't have to be an enthusiast for historical drama to really enjoy this saga. These Romans are, in their feeling and ambitions, just like modern folk. Endlessly fascinating, I, Claudius deserves a place in the collection of anyone looking to preserve the best that BBC television has had to offer.
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Format: DVD
Thanks to all the reviewers who've said that this DVD is censored and of poor image and sound quality. I was going to buy it and now will not. I found that there is a BBC DVD version available thorough that reviewers say is very high image and sound quality (they have been restored from a master tape), and all episodes are included. There is also a documentary on the never completed epic film about Caligula starring Charles Laughton. I have ordered this one. Of course, you need an all region DVD player to play it.
After watching the UK DVD, I can report that it is excellent. What a spectacular transfer. The series is a delight to watch again.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While this edition is an improvement over the previous releases in terms of video and audio and the bonus extra feature is a welcome addition, viewers should be forewarned that this edition does not contain all of the footage that has been seen on previous editions (either broadcast or on home video) of this great epic. Nevertheless, I am assuming this edition represents what viewers in the UK saw on the BBC back in 1976. I own 2 previous editions:

1. The heavily censored MASTERPIECE THEATRE edition as it aired originally on PBS (taped from a rerun in the early 90's on shown on PBS as part of MT 20th anniversary; Claudius being the only series that was rerun in it's entirety on MT so many years after the fact.)
2. The IMAGE Laser Disc release of the mid 90's (which I believe was the source of the first DVD release).

Originally CLAUDIUS aired on MT in 13 one hr episodes. This 13 episode format was left intact for the first LD release but the censored scenes were restored, including an extension of the African slave dance in episode one, and Caligula's abortion of his sisters baby in episode 9. While these scenes remained in the broadcast. version they were censored especially the one in ep 9. There might have been other cuts, but these are the ones that stand out.

The new DVD goes back to the BBC version (as far as I can tell) and preserves the format of the original presentation. Episode 1 was 2 hours in length on BBC, thus the new DVD has only 12 episodes instead of the 13 broadcast on American TV. This was due to the fact that episode 1 had to be split in two to accommodate for the 1 hr running time of MT. In this new DVD the african slave dance scene has been shortened by about a minute, and there is a "bridge" scene that unifies what was MT episodes 1&2.
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Senõr Abuelitotono, I have searched ALL the sites seeking an answer for this question and in one site I have discovered that sadly this DVD has no closed-captions neither subtitles in Spanish or another language. My native language is not spanish, but portuguese, and I have the same problems that... Read More
Oct 27, 2007 by Deniza Futuro |  See all 41 posts
Remastered... but no new extras?
Unfortunately the reviews all seem to have been ported over from the original release, so I'm waiting to hear if the picture quality has been improved significantly. This was a low-budget production and the original DVD does not look great, but I can live with it. However, if the new edition is... Read More
Dec 5, 2008 by Kindle Customer |  See all 4 posts
Blue Skin
The video card (connected to the TV and PC monitor) is a likely culprit. You see, when video cards get too old, or people speed (and heat) them up with overclocking to improve gaming or video editing, funny colors and maddening patterns may pop up in output--the video card has to meet many... Read More
Feb 21, 2009 by G. Morrison |  See all 5 posts
Yes it does, in fact a few episodes contain scenes that are "mature" in nature. I would not let anyone under teenage see this series.
May 1, 2011 by Eric Pregosin |  See all 3 posts
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