I didn't know where to put this. It didn't really seem appropriate for television because it's a mini series and is really more like a foreign "good movie" type film. I hope placing it here doesn't offend anyones sectional beliefs too much
This is a six part, nearly four hour long Polish tv miniseries. I had seen a movie called “Night Train” (1959!) by the director and had queued this not even realizing it was a miniseries. It snuck down the line one day and I almost put it back into the envelope unwatched. I 'm glad I didn’t because it was amazing. I had no idea what it was, the cover looked like some greek drama or swords and sandals business which I guess it kind of is but not really.Nero
Vinicius, who looks like a cross between UFC veteran Rich Franklin and Hal Sparks, is a high in the food chain Roman guy. He and his Uncle/ mentor Petronius (the real star here. excellent actor) are part of the eccentric Emporer Nero’s inner circle. The parallels betwen then and today with all the yes men and political theatre are obvious. At one point when they are confronted with an angry mob, Nero implores Petronius to to "offer them no end in promises!” which he does with some flair. Everyone will get bread and olives and jobs and on and on.
The oil in the ointment of all this is Lygia, a Christian slave who Vinicius falls hard for. She looks like Denise Richards circa Wild Things. (The actress is beautiful. performance: nothing special) This sets the plot in motion: Christianity is growing rapidly while the Roman empire is riding high but slowly falling apart. Nero is totally out to lunch. He’s not insane like Caligula but all he cares about are his terrible poems and his own personal pursuits. The central event of the movie is the great Roman fire and the Nero's subsequent attempt to pin it on the still marginalized Christians. Lygia Vinicius
The dialogue and direction are superb and not overly reverential (no pun intended) or dry/ boring at all. I assume there isn’t a gigantic budget but it looks great, especially the costumes. While it is a movie about Christianity it isn’t a Christian movie. There is quite a bit of “Passion of the Christ” type violence (though it predates that film) and even some ”Roman decadence” nudity! All right Polish tv! There are some angry comments regarding this on netflix. On the one hand, lighten up, on the other hand if one were expecting a Catholic television type production certain scenes are pretty over the top.
The story is Polish in origin and they do their fellow countryman whoever it was more than justice. When the Apostle Peter speaks it feels like you are seeing the actual Apostle Peter. If you’ve ever seen “Sign of the Cross” (1932) it’s pretty much the same story. In the begining it felt a little cut and dry and even a little condensed but as it went on and I got into it these sorts of issues faded.