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DVD Shop: FORTHCOMING MOVIESONLINE FILM FEST
SWORD & SANDAL MOVIES DOCUMENTARIESANCIENT CINEMA BOOKS
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ROMEGREECEEGYPT & BIBLICAL EPICS
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DVDS FROM GERMANY




WHERE ARE
THE EURO MOVIES?

A number of movies and TV shows set in the Ancient World, made in Britain, Europe, and elsewhere, have never been released in the US. Will we ever see these productions in America? [All items on this page were released prior to 2010, when Steven began keeping his annually-updated, comprehensive pages of New & Forthcoming Movies and TV Shows from around the world.]

Note: this page contains some links to Region 2 DVDs available from France, the UK, Germany, and elsewhere. Region 2 DVDs can’t be played on regular DVD players sold in the USA (which play Region 1 only). You must have a Region 2 player, or a PC DVD player set to Region 2, or an all-region DVD player. (Amazon offers a number of all-region DVD players.)



In 2009 the musical spectacle Cléopâtre, la dernière Reine d’Egypte was staged in Paris, starring Sofia Essaïdi in the title role and Christopher Stills (son of Stephen Stills) as Caesar. You can view several clips at YouTube, including this music video, and there’s a Region 2 DVD available in France. Whether you love the music or not, one thing’s for sure: Cleo and Ceasar never looked better!

Chelmsford 123 is now available on a 2-disk Region 2 DVD in the UK. A comedy in the absurdo-historical vein of Black Adder, this series about a Roman governor’s travails in ancient Britain circa, 123 A.D., was first broadcast in 1988, with 13 episodes in all. If you know of a Region 1 US DVD release, please let Steven know!)

Though ostensibly aimed at kids, the BBC series The Roman Mysteries may be the most addictive Ancient World TV treat since HBO’s Rome. In the reign of Titus, four youngsters from diverse backgrounds (slave, sponge diver, ship captain’s daughter, Jew) encounter pirates, gladiators, palace intrigue, and the eruption of Vesuvius. Season One (from 2007) and Season Two are available on Region 2 DVD from the UK. If you know of any US broadcast or DVD release, please let Steven know! (If you haven’t yet read the original series of novels by Caroline Lawrence, begin with The Thieves of Ostia.)

The Battle for Rome (first shown in the UK in 2006 as Ancient Rome: Rise & Fall of an Empire) turns up on US cable channels...but where is the US DVD? Episodes dramatize key figures in history (Tiberius Gracchus, Julius Caesar, Nero, Vespasian, Constantine, and Alaric the Visigoth). Click here to read Lindsey Davis’s tart review for the Sunday Times, “All Tantrums and Togas.” There’s a UK Region 2 DVD, sometimes available as a second-hand import. If you know of a US DVD release, please let Steven know!

Waiting for Pasolini, from Morocco, is a modern-day comedy inspired by the fact that so many movies about the Ancient World are shot on location in...Morocco! Image at right: director Daoud Aoulad-Syad introduces the movie at the Arab Film Festival at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in 2008. If you know of a DVD release or US theatrical release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!

From Mondo TV in Italy comes the animated series Gladiatori: Il Torneo delle 7 Meraviglie (Gladiators: Tournament of the 7 Wonders). So far, there are 26 episodes of this adventurous romp set in the Rome of emperor Hadrian. The teeming cast includes brawny gladiators, devious villains, clever kids, a sorceress, a mysterious priest of Mithras, a heroic she-lion, and the young emperor-to-be Marcus Aurelius. See more info in Italian or English at mondotv.it; watch a trailer here. If you know of any DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know! (Interestingly, you can download the show’s dramatic theme songs at iTunes.)

More from Mondo TV in Italy: the feature-length animated film Alexander the Great. See more info at mondotv.it; watch a trailer here. Thanks to a tip from a visitor to this site, Steven found an English/French DVD of mysterious origin (Korea?) on eBay and thoroughly enjoyed it; search for “Alexander the Great (The Story of a Legend).” If you know of any DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!

And yet more from Mondo TV in Italy: the animated mini-series Spartacus. Thirteen half-hour episodes relate the epic tale of the Thracian warrior who became a slave and then led a revolt against the tyranny of Rome. See more info at mondotv.it; watch a trailer here. The Mondo catalog also includes the animated movies Ramses, Hercules, and Ulysses aka Odysseus (which Steven acquired in German as a Region 2 DVD from Germany). If you know of any DVD releases or TV broadcasts of these Mondo productions, please let Steven know!

Kampf un Germanien: Die Varusschlact (Struggle for Germania: The Varus Battle), a 90-minute German docudrama, recounts the rise of Arminius and the destruction of the Romans in the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest. It’s available on Region 2 DVD in German. If you know of a US broadcast or DVD release, please let Steven know!

The Passion, a BBC mini-series starring Joseph Mawle as Jesus and James Nesbitt (shown here) as Pilate, was broadcast in the UK during Easter 2008. More info here. It’s available on Region 2 DVD from the UK. If you know of a US broadcast or DVD release, please let Steven know!
Pompei, gli ultimi giorni (Pompeii: the Last Days), an Italian mini-series from the producers of Augustus, Nero, and St. Peter, was broadcast in March, 2007. The international cast includes director Giulio Base as Pliny. There’s a Region 2 DVD in English and German and a DVD from Maximus Media. If you know of another DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!

Pompei, ieri, oggi, domani (Pompeii: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow), an Italian mini-series starring Victor Alfieri, was first broadcast in 2007. Steven watched the Region 2 DVDs from the Czech Republic (in English and Czech, on two DVD; unfortunately, this link appears to be defunct) and reports: “Enjoyed the sets, special effects, and gladiators; the terrible dubbing and melodrama, not so much!” An English-language Blu-ray has been spotted at Amazon, and mini-series has also been found at eThaiCD.com and at Maximus Media. If you know of any other DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!


It’s been years since the 2003 telemovie Held der Gladiatoren (Hero of the Gladiators) was first broadcast in Germany...and still no US DVD or English-language version! Stephan Hornung stars as the enslaved Germanic prince, seen here with Tanja Wenzel. Steven recently rewatched the Region 2 DVD in German and was again impressed by the production values and exciting combats. If you know of any English-language DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!

Alexander the Great went Bollywood in Royal Utsav. (“Utsav” is a Hindi word meaning “celebration.”) Thanks to reincarnation, the Greek conqueror finally realizes his dream of reaching India, where he meets a beautiful queen and inspires the author of the Kama Sutra. Expect singing, dancing, and lots of (strictly heterosexual) romance. Oliver Stone, eat your heart out! If you know of a US release or DVD, please let Steven know!

The ancient Greek comedy of Aristophanes, in which the women of Athens go on sexual strike to end the war with Sparta, was given some fresh twists by gay German cartoonist Ralf König in his graphic novel Lysistrata. The book was made into a movie in Spain in 2002, starring Maribel Verdú in the title role. Ralf Königs Lysistrata is available on Region 2 DVD from Germany (in German and Spanish only) or on Region 2 DVD from Spain with English subtitles (under the title Lisístrata) at dvdgo.com. If you know of a US DVD release, please let Steven know!

Strictly for kids: the Spanish animated series Gladiator Academy (Academia de Gladiatores), is colorful, fun, and very silly. You can watch all of episode 1: The Art of Deception and 2: Sporadicus in English at YouTube. If you know of a US DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!
Impressario Robert Hossein staged the massive spectacle Ben-Hur in the 80,000-seat Stade de France sports arena in Paris in 2006 with a cast of hundreds, a full-scale chariot race, and a life-sized Roman galley out on the field. It’s available on Region 2 DVD from France (French language only). If you know of any current DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!
Spartacus le Gladiateur, a musical extravaganza by Elie Chouraqui and Maxime Le Forestier, opened on the colossal stage of the Palais des Sports in Paris in 2004. A Region 2 DVD was released in France in 2005; you can find numerous clips on YouTube, including one here. If you know of a US DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!
Viva Carthago is a French-language animated TV series of 13 episodes made in Tunisia. In 146 BC, when Carthage is destroyed by the Romans, 10-year-old Sedik escapes on the ship Carthago to embark on a magical journey through antiquity. Two feature films compiled from the series, Les Naufragés de Carthage (Castaways of Carthage) I and II, are on separate DVDs from JSDVD in Taiwan (French/ Chinese language, English/Chinese subtitles; region-free). If you know of any other DVD release or TV broadcast,

In the 1986 Japanese anime Arion, a young Thracian takes up the cause of Prometheus and wages war against the gods of Olympus. Marveling at some of the visuals, Steven wonders if Peter Jackson was watching Arion when he designed certain parts of Lord of the Rings. Apparently there was never an English-dubbed US release, but an All-Region DVD in Japanese with English subtitles is out there, and worth searching for. If you know of any US DVD release, please let Steven know! Update! As of 12/2012, you can see Arion streaming at YouTube (with English subs), starting here.

Produced for Dutch television in 2007, the documentary The Gospel of Caesar posits the notion that the story of Jesus is actually a variation on the life of Julius Caesar. More info here. You may be able to download or view the documentary here. If you know of any English-language TV broadcast or DVD release, please let Steven know!
Die Hermannsschlacht (The Herman Battle), loosely based on the monumental drama by Heinrich von Kleist about the massacre of three Roman legions in the forests of Germany in 9 A.D., premiered in Dusseldorf in 1995. The filmmakers’ minimalist, docudrama approach appears to be decidedly post-modern (or at least post-Monty Python). Visit the official site to see a trailer and for more information in German, French, or English. There’s a lengthy review (in French) at peplums.info.

Where are the Asterix movies? In Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques (which opened across Europe in 2008), the beloved cartoon super-Gauls Astérix and Obélix (Clovis Cornillac and Gérard Depardieu) head for the ancient Games. (Kickboxing superstar Jérôme le Banner, above, plays Roman champ/chump Gluteus Maximus.) This is the third mega-budget Astérix movie from France, following Astérix & Obélix contre César (1999) and Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre (2002). The films have been huge worldwide hits, but have never been released in the US. Quelle bizarre! The movies are available in English on Region 2 DVD from the UK: Asterix and Obelix Take On Caesar, Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, and Asterix at the Olympic Games.Update 6/2012: Now a fourth Astérix movies is on the way (Astérix et Obélix: Au Service de Sa Majesté, aka Astérix and Obélix: God Save the Queen)—and still no US releases in sight!

And speaking of the Olympics...Champions d’Olympie gathers athletes from across Europe to restage the Games as they were held in Ancient Greece. More info here and here. The series is available on Region 2 DVD from France (French language only). If you know of a US broadcast or DVD, please let Steven know!

...and yet more about the Games: Greek filmmaker Paul Pissanos’ 2004 docudrama Olympiad 448 B.C. recreates the chariot races, contests, and religious rites of the first games on the sites where they actually occurred. Pissanos also made the feature film Orpheus & Eurydice (2004) as well as numerous Ancient World documentaries for Greek television; you can see clips here. If you know of a US DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know! Update 3/2012: Oympiad 448 B.C. appears to be available at Amazon Instant Video. Has anybody seen it?

Sa Majesté Minor (His Majesty Minor), from French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, features satyrs and pig-men in a comedy of pre-Homeric times. The movie released in 2007. To see clips, click here. The movie is available on Region 2 DVD from France (French language only). If you know of any English-language theatrical or DVD release, please let Steven know!

Greatest Battles: Julius Caesar, a 2004 BBC “Timewatch” series docudrama about the conquest of Gaul, carries the provocative tagline “Heroism or Genocide?” If you know of any DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!
Sex B.C., a 3-part documentary series about sexuality in ancient times, was first broadcast in the UK in 2002 (read the Channel 4 background article here) and in Australia in 2007. If you know of a US broadcast or any DVD release, please let Steven know!

From 2004, two 1-hour BBC docudramas filmed in Morocco and Malta. Both are available on Region 2 DVD from Germany (in German only): Jason and the Argonauts (Jason und die Arognauten) and The Odyssey (Die Odysee). If you know of any English-language DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!
Who Killed Julius Caesar?, a 2004 Granada/Discovery Channel documentary, postulates that an ill, world-weary Caesar plotted his own demise. If you know of a US DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!
Bérénice, based on the classic play by Racine, with Carole Bouquet as the Jewish queen and Gérard Depardieu as the emperor Titus, was broadcast on French TV in 2000. It’s available on DVD in France. If you know of any English-language broadcast or DVD release, please let Steven know!

Germanikus, a German comedy (that’s right, a German comedy!) from 2004, stars cabaret artist Gerhard Polt (far right) as a Teutonic slave in the Rome of the emperor Titus (Moritz Bleibtreu). It’s available on Region 2 DVD in German. If you know of an English-language DVD release or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!

Brûlez Rome! (Burn Rome!), a 90-minute docudrama, was shown on French television in 2005. To earn citizenship, two freed slaves join the vigiles (the city’s foot patrol) and confront the great fire that ravaged Rome in the reign of Nero. Steven watched the French Region 2 DVD (in Latin with French voice-overs) and found it “a mixed bag — not quite successful either as doc or as drama — but beautifully produced with some memorable scenes.” If you know of an English-language DVD or TV broadcast, please let Steven know!




DVD Shop: FORTHCOMING MOVIESONLINE FILM FEST
SWORD & SANDAL MOVIES DOCUMENTARIESANCIENT CINEMA BOOKS
HAIL SHAKESPEARE!STEVEN’S TOP 10 MOVIES LISTWISH LIST
ROMEGREECEEGYPT & BIBLICAL EPICS
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DVDS FROM GERMANY


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