Posts Tagged ‘I Claudius’

Ire Claudius

Posted in General on June 12th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 8 Comments

HBO, BBC2 Make Deal To Turn Robert Graves Novel ‘I, Claudius’ Into Epic Miniseries

Unfortunately, this is not a headline from 1975.  That was when “I, Claudius” was produced for television, and the series was merely a masterpiece.  The life of the Caesar family was the blackest of comedies. Sian Phillips as the Empress Livia stole the show and committed every other crime as well.  John Hurt made Caligula an endearing monster; he had a childlike wonder at all the abominations he could perpetrate.  Then, there was Derek Jacobi in the title role:  our stammering, slobbering, limping hero who uses his handicaps to pose as as a negligible fool,  masking the keen mind that sees all and narrates the sordid story. 

I have seen the series six times, so I have memorized almost the entire dialogue.  If there were ever a “Claudie” convention, I would consider going, possibly even in costume.  I do have the legs for a tunic (sorry, no illustrative photos–I am not a congressman) but for sentimental reasons, I’d probably go as Herod Agrippa.  He was charming, droll and quite likely a relative.

So what can be gained by remaking “I, Claudius”?  If HBO is worried about British actors starving, there is a time-honored way to exploit and denigrate a masterpiece.  Make a sequel!  Why not produce “Me, Nero”, the story of a repulsive teenager with delusions of talent? But for the foreskin, it could be a Judd Apatow movie.  Jonah Hill would be perfect.  And if that succeeds, there is “I, Galba”–the story of an irritating coot who becomes emperor; get Randy Quaid’s agent.  After that, there is “Us, Otho”–a badly aging playboy becomes emperor: Charlie Sheen’s comeback!  “We, Vitellius”–a fat has-been with an embarrassing toupee:  where do I start? 

And HBO: there were more than 80 Roman Emperors!  Calculating two seasons an emperor, the network has 160 years of shows.  After that, HBO can start with the Byzantines.  (By 2170, I should be finished with the Theodora script.)