This 99-minute film constitutes the first half of Robert Siodmak's mammoth two-part epic Der Kampf um Rom (Fight for Rome). The film depicts the Goths' sacking of Rome in 526 AD. No expense was spared in bringing this story to the screen: for example, Siodmak utilized six companies of Rumanian cavalry for the battle sequence, and the epic packs in an all-star cast including Laurence Harvey as Celhegus, Orson Welles as Justinian and Sylva Koscina as Theodora. The film carefully lays a groundwork of corruption and infighting, suggesting that the siege of Rome was virtually justified. Screenwriter Ladislas Fodor (a former government agent best known for his espionage yarns) adapted his script from the best-selling novel by Felix Dahn. The second half, Der Kampf um rom 2: Der Verrat (which also clocks in at just over 1.5 hours) was issued in 1969, a year after the first; Four years after that (c. 1973), the two parts of Der Kampf um Rom were edited together, cut down to 94 minutes, and distributed as a single entry in the United States.
by Hal Erickson synopsis