Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This ambitious, four-hour cable miniseries stars Jeremy Sisto (taking time off from his regular series Six Feet Under) as Roman general-turned-emperor Julius Caesar. Expensively filmed in Malta and Bulgaria, the production vividly traces Caesar's rise to prominence as a brilliant military tactician (with remarkably accurate battle scenes); his complex relationships with his mentor General Pompey (Chris Noth) and his second wife Calpurnia (Valeria Golino); his ideological tiltings with Senator Cato (Christopher Walken), who advocates democracy over Caesar's dictatorial ambitions; and his bloody (but inevitable) murder at the hands of former friends and allies. Taking some dramatic license with the facts, the film is basically sympathetic to its subject, although Caesar is depicted as a flawed man, both physically and morally. Giving Caesar points for being fundamentally honorable, in full possession of his faculties, and possessing the "common touch" with the Roman citizenry, the teleplay does not shrink away from the man's violent epileptic seizures, his megalomania, his casually calculated cruelties, and his bigamous relationship with Egyptian queen Cleopatra (Samuela Sardo). Interestingly enough, however, the miniseries downplays his notorious bisexuality ("Every man's woman and every woman's man"). In his final performance, Richard Harris appears as Caesar's wily bête noire, Roman dictator Sulla. Caesar was first telecast in the U.S. on June 29-30, 2003, by the TNT cable network.
emperor, General, mentor, murder, wife