Movie 14min

Nero. Or The Fall Of Rome. (1909)

Original title: Nerone
Emperor Nero abandons his wife Octavia for the beautiful Poppea.

+ 10 images
Directors Arturo Ambrosio , Luigi Maggi
Country Italy
Language Italian
(Country Spesific) Nero, o Imperador
(Alternative) Kejsar Nero och Roms brand
(Alternative) Keisari Nero ja Rooman palo
(Country Spesific) Keisari Nero
(Alternative) Nero; or, The Burning of Rome
(Country Spesific) Нерон
(Country Spesific) Unter der Schreckensherrschaft eines römischen Cäsaren
(Country Spesific) Nero
(Original) Nerone
(Alternative) Nerone, o la caduta di Roma
1. Century Ancient Rome Based on Novel Based on True Story Black and White Crime Drama Early Christians Emperor Emperor Nero Historical Drama History Martyrdom Murder Persecution Religious Persecution Remorse Roman Empire Rulers Short Silent Film Suicide Vision

Roman emperor Nero is used to getting what he wants. He has grown tired of his wife Octavia, and has become infatuated with Poppea. He succeeds in making Poppea the new empress, but soon he faces opposition from an outraged populace. Informed of the danger of an imminent popular uprising, Nero orders to set fire to the city, which he watches from a terrace, rejoicing and playing his lyra.

We sat in simple amazement at the marvelous manner in which the production had been staged, artistically dressed, lighted and photographed. We seemed, for all the world, to be looking on a production of Mansfield, Irving or some great producing actor who is determined to give the public a chef d’oeuvre. It was no simple comedy scene, but one demanding all the magnificent effects of procession, brilliancy of costume and acting, and finally the great conflagration of Rome; such a marvelous realism of effect that as we sat and watched this colored part of the film we seemed, as it were, to hear the cries of the victims.

Source: Review in The Moving Picture Word, Nov 6, 1909

One day emperor Nero leaves his palace accompanied by his wife Claudia Octavia and meets a charming patrician named Poppea. With the help of his freedman Epaphroditus he finds her at a party she is attending and brings her back to his palace.

Nero presents Poppea to the people as the new empress and repudiates his wife. Octavia asks him to restitute the empire which he had received as her dowry, but the emperor harshly chases her away. Later, Nero is convinced by Poppea to have Octavia killed. One of her maidservants swears revenge and goes to Rome where she spreads the news of the assassination. The people, already tired of Nero's exactions and whims, decide to revolt against the emperor.

Informed of the danger of an imminent popular uprising, Nero orders to set fire to the city, which he watches from a terrace, rejoicing and playing his lyra.

Abandoned by all and sentenced to death by the Senate, he is beset by visions of the massacres he ordered. He flees with Epaphroditus seeking refuge at the villa of the freedman Faonte. Discovered and chased into the woods together with Epaphroditus, he kills himself with his sword.

Source: Wikipedia, 2024.07.11

11 Scenes
Nero is fascinated by a young girl, one of the guests at his palace.
Nero's friend learns that her name is Poppeo and plans a meeting with Nero.
Nero meets Poppeo.
Poppeo, conscious of her power, plans to win the place of the Empress Octavia.
Poppeo induces Nero to publicly insult Octavia.
Poppeo demands that Nero kill Octavia.
Octavia is slain.
The populace revolt at the news of her death.
Nero sets fire to Rome to quell the uprising.
Nero's visions of remorse.
Nero kills himself to evade the fury of the people.
Similar movies
Nero And The Burning Of Rome
Nero And The Burning Of Rome
Nero And The Burning Of Rome (1908)
1908 11min
Life of Joan of Arc
Life of Joan of Arc
Life of Joan of Arc (1909)
1909 13min
The Life of St. Paul
The Life of St. Paul
The Life of St. Paul (1910)
1910 11min
Jeanne d'Arc
Jeanne d'Arc
Jeanne d'Arc (1909)
In The Time Of The First Christians
In The Time Of The First Christians
In The Time Of The First Christians (1910)
1910 12min
St. Paul and the Centurion
St. Paul and the Centurion
St. Paul and the Centurion (1910)
1910 11min
Mirra Principi - Ottavia
Lydia De Roberti - Poppea
Alberto Capozzi - Nerone
Serafino Vite - Uomo del popolo
Ercole Vaser - Spione
Luigi Maggi - Epafrodito
Ernesto Vaser - Senatore/Uomo del popolo
Mario Voller-Buzzi -
Leo Ragusi - Uomo del popolo
Paolo Azzurri - Senatore
Arturo Ambrosio - Director
Luigi Maggi - Director
Decoroso Bonifanti - Writer (Scenario)
Arrigo Frusta - Writer (Screenplay)
Giovanni Vitrotti - Cinematography
Slow, but powerful

The main story is not the most fast-paced one, as it is in politics and silent films - but it takes off after the death of Octavia, and the film introduces us to two of the most iconic scenes of the time; Nero playing the lyra while watching Rome burn, and Nero seeing a vision of the Christians he killed.

To be fair, you should see at least two versions of this. The one in the Danish Film Institute is a crisp black an white version that makes it easier to get a sense of the story. The other version you need to watch is the green-tinted one that turns red when Rome is burning, and have another redish tint of the vision. Also worth mentioning that the scene where the Christians are seen burning is cut out by the sensors in the Danish version, while the other versions I've seen has cut out the actual death of Nero (Danish version cuts the act, but keeps the moment Nero is lying on the ground).

Seeing it in both versions makes one appreciate the effect colors can give, especially on the most iconic scenes. Even if the film itself is not as strong, the aforementioned scenes make this a must see!