Originally advertised as "Colossal Quo Vadis," this opulent MGM production is far and away the most elaborate of the many versions of Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel. The plot, as always, concerns the romance between a beautiful early Christian woman (Deborah Kerr) and the initially agnostic Roman soldier Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor). This love story is laid against the larger intrigues of the debauched emperor Nero (Peter Ustinov), who hopes to gain immortality by destroying Rome with a fire and remaking it in his own image. Part of Nero's master plan is the elimination of the Christian "threat," leading to the climactic lion picnics in the arena. In spite of the many more celebrated highlights (the burning of Rome, the rescue of Lygia [Deborah Kerr] from a rampaging bull, the upside-down crucifixion of Simon Peter), the scene that remains most vivid in the memory is the posthumous "final insult" delivered to Nero by his contemptuous former aide Petronius (Leo Genn). Sophia Loren can be briefly spotted as an extra during one of the crowd scenes.~Hal Erickson
Commentary by Critic/film historian F.X. Feeney
Digitally remastered from restored picture and audio elements
Original roadshow overture and exit music
Rejoined to the film for the first time in 56 years
New featurette In the Beginning: Quo Vadis adn the Genesis of the Biblical Epic
I had seen this movie as a kid and when it showed on TCM a few weeks back, I missed the first half hour, so I decided to get the movie. The movie and acting was simply great and would recommend if you like old classics
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 5 out of 5 stars
Better than most of its time
Most movies of this one's time (even the historical films) seems off with the acting or the accuracy, whether original or based on something else. This one, on the other hand, seemed to get it right. The storyline may seem overused if you've seen every other movie like it before watching this one, if so, this one pioneered the story style better. And not only the story itself, but the acting truly had substance in each character, whether an important character or an extra or even a bit character (and there's truckloads of them in many scenes, no shortage of volunteers). I was surprised to see, for a movie from the 50's, a lot of borderline graphic deaths and some skimpy wear, yet I suppose it was to keep it as realistic as possible while pushing the envelope for the rating system of that time. The major characters that change, personality-wise, take an appropriate enough time doing so while those that don't change don't feel forced in their acting. In fact, the man playing as Nero felt perfect for a psychotic emperor who's full of himself. The locations feel perfectly scaled for the areas they're portraying without a hitch holding the authenticity back, including the chariot races and battles. The historical scenes of Christian persecution, while intense, do feel historically spot on from the emotions people felt to aftermath effects and the shock of Romans to the Christians singing before their deaths. There are not many extras available, just a couple trailers for the movie and a rather lengthy feature on the history of the movie and other historical movies based on Biblical themes and how they became important for the enrichment of cinema. When I was nervous to watch this movie (I'm not normally into movie before the 80's), that special feature, before it was even a quarter way through, convinced me to watch the movie, and I'm really glad I did.
This is my all-time favorite move. I have owned four video tapes and have worn them all out. Now, I can watch Quo Vadis as much as I want.
I love the story line of love and sacrifice in the early years of Christianity. I have read the book and while the book is definately better, the movie is pretty good. Robert Taylor wasn't really a good actor, but he does play a great Roman soldier.
Peter Ustinov as Nero is just as I have always pictured Nero being--arrogant, selfish, completely self-absorbed. The early Christians going to their deaths singing is both sad and beautiful at the same time.
The huge Classical Roman sets are amazing. I've been to Rome, Pompeii, etc., and I can really feel as if I'm there, in the midst of it all.
In short, the extravagant sets, the thousands of actors, the stirring music and action really brings ancient Rome and 1st Century Christianity alive for me.