Thursday, October 18

The Gladiators of Rome

a true-blooded ancient Roman
as portrayed in our evolved era of 2012
In Italy, whenever something is over-the-top spectacular, or the envelope is pushed a bit too far, coupled with the fact that it comes from the USA, it's called quite disparagingly, "An Americanata".  I love this term because it's usually quite accurate; after all, the bizarre creatures of Cirque de Soleil are the brainchild of Canadian minds, while we gave the world Barnum & Bailey and his vulgar cast of real-life characters all under a Big Top tent.  So when in Rome a few brauny guys got the bright idea to dress up for photo opps as Centurions and hover around the Forum & Colosseum to collect a few bucks, I, with my decidedly American sensibilities, thought for one that it was a pretty banner idea.  I could not believe that no one had come up with the idea sooner, 'tho I'm sure when Animal House came about I was not the only one who wanted to throw a toga party in the Roman Forum.  Tourists love the gimmick and lined up for photos with the Gladiators.
You would have thought these guys had let loose man-eating lions in the environs.  The intelligentsia complained bitterly that it 'spoiled' the image of the great monuments to mankind -- and when the City realized they weren't getting a cut of the pocket money in taxes, well, in came the riot police and the Centurions were vanquished.  It was then I knew the Fall of Rome would not be far behind.  Their capitulation was from being seen as 'cheesy', the same word people uttered whenever the cameras were unsheathed.
When the film The Gladiator came out and the movie series Rome burst onto TV screens, even more voices cried fowl.   People from every walk of life had to dismiss them handily for the wild exaggerations, the mistakes in costumes (and we'll never forgive the actor who was wearing a watch...), the criminal way a deranged Emperor may have been played.  Seemingly forgetting that it was just entertainment, and perhaps not a replay of Roots, I felt all the hullaboo was simply a matter of sour grapes.
So out came the Made in Italy version of the Gladiators of Rome, a Pixar-like film hoping to best the Americans at their own game; certainly plausible, given the number of talented Italians busy working their magic over in Hollywood.  Nowadays you can find outstanding Ancient Rome 3D reproductions on youtube] but as for Gladiators, while kids seem to like it, critics have been dissing it; giving the film about two stars.  Citing unfunny adult humor, not so plausible plot lines and the usual sexed up scenes with the Roman women taking their cues from one Jessica Rabbit.  I took one look at the trailers to see more of the typical Italian movie-making gimmicks; making sure we indoctrinate the kiddies young that men are gladiators and women are eye candy.  While I applaud that the heroine becomes the hard-assed trainer (in more ways than one), and I had to give that she was dressed like all the Western runners at the Olympic games, I didn't like it there, either.  Little did the movie show how women in Ancient Rome really were; dressed less like Barbarella (brought to us by Italian, Dino Di Laurentiis I might add), and more likely wielding more power than many of the gladiators who graced the fighting pits and the Emperors who watched them battle.
So, where is the chorus of voices now when the Italians outdo the Americans in giving the world an Americanata in Rome.

All films quoted above with links to trailers and more.


Irreverent Italy said...

A recent review in Leggo News of the movie:

A cartoon that dreams of America...but the story's been seen before & the animation doesn't hold up. Good 3D, but dubbers (including the wooden model, Belen - ndr) horrific--with a misogynist core

jacques said...

So, I really don't know, but I question what link does anything in the film have to Central America? wants to send people (lucky winners?) to Mexico? with Trenitalia? (sounds like a really wet voyage to me).

Irreverent Italy said...

Jacques - that goes into my 'brand marketing challenged' theme...Hysterical.