Sunday, December 09, 2012

i, claudius is 35

The 35th anniversary of one of the best television miniseries of all time, I, Claudius , sparked some fond reminiscences of the series recently with my friends on Facebook. I have to dig out my DVD set and devote some time for re-viewing after the kid has retired for the evening, but in the meantime I couldn't resist checking out one of my favorite scenes from the series, from possibly the maddest Caligula episode, "Hail, Who?"

Caligula, "Do you think I'm mad?"
Claudius, "M-m-mad?"
Caligula, "Yes, sometimes I think that I'm going mad. Do you — be honest with me — has that thought ever crossed your mind?"
Claudius, "Never. Never. The idea is preposterous. You set the standard of sanity for the whole world."
Not only was I, Claudius great entertainment, but it introduced me some of the finest actors around, and was responsible for turning me into an Anglophile. Derek Jacobi as Claudius, John Hurt as Caligua, Brian Blessed as Augustus, Si├ón Phillips as Livia, John Castle as Postumus, James Faulkner as Herod Agrippa, Patrick Stewart as Sejanus — I could easily list the entire cast, the acting was so excellent.

John Hurt and Derek Jacobi
After the series aired I grabbed the books by Robert Graves, I, Claudius and Claudius the God and loved them, too. But it is the series' vivid depictions of ancient Rome that have stayed with me through the years.

To keep the Claudius fun going here are some other great links to check out:

The complete episode of "Hail, Who?"

Derek Jacobi's amazingly articulate acceptance speech for his BAFTA for the role of Claudius in 1976

John Hurt on playing Caligula from I, Claudius A Television Epic


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