The Silver Screen.

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  • Author(s): Waldbaum, Jane C.
  • Source:
    Archaeology. Jul/Aug2004, Vol. 57 Issue 4, p4-4. 3/4p. 1 Color Photograph.
  • Additional Information
    • Subject Terms:
    • Abstract:
      Hollywood's long-standing love affair with antiquity is in full bloom, with recent and forthcoming movies celebrating the exploits of ancient heroes or glamorizing the adventures of fictional archaeologists. Spring gave us Troy with Brad Pitt as Achilles, and over the next couple of years we can expect a flood of" sword and sandal" epics centered around real or imaginary characters, including Alexander, Maximus the gladiator, Hannibal, and Gilgamesh. The epics will give us Hollywood's current take on antiquity and are in the same tradition as such classics as Spartacus, Cleopatra, and Ben-Hur, which featured favorite stars of the 1950s and 1960s such as Kirk Douglas, Liz Taylor, and Charlton Heston. The second tradition--films depicting archaeologists at work in glamorous, dangerous, or mysterious conditions--extends back as far as a lost silent film from 1912 called The Vengeance of Egypt. In the 1963 film Cleopatra, for example, Julius Caesar's triumphal procession into Rome in the late first century B.C. marches past the fourth-century A.D. Arch of Constantine. Some directors or set designers strive to get the settings, costumes, and other details right, such as the digital re-creation of the Colosseum in Gladiator. Too often, however, we are treated to anachronistic howlers.