35th Anniversary Edition
DVD | Box Set
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"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.
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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.
In this version of I, Claudius there is an advisory at the start of each disc reminding you that some changes in technology created quality loss that cannot be compensated for, and by this they mean that the make up sometimes looks a bit heavy. So what? This is one of the best productions in the history of television. The bonus features are not to be missed by the real fan: details about casting, direction of certain scenes, sets, acting techniques, make up regimen and more. Thank goodness the bonus features were made before more of the people involved had died. I am very happy with this purchase.