It's <I>The Odd Couple</i> Meets <I>Dick</i>. In Classical Rome. - Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog




Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


Archives

April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

 

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm about through episode nine of Rome (and yes, Denis, when the time comes I'll probably sign on to TMN for Season Two), and it is occurring to me that at some level the show is The Odd Couple. Here's Lucius Vorenus, trying so hard to do the right things by his duty and his gods. And what's his reward for it? He's stuck with Titus Pullus, who pretty much follows his instincts and his dick, and everything comes out fine for him. Titus gets the gold; Titus gets to sleep with the queen; Vorenus gets the slow burn and the ulcer.

The other story this reminds me of is Dick, the utterly charming and silly movie in which Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams stumble their way through the Watergate Crisis, bringing down the Nixon Presidency more or less because he's mean to his dogs. In Episode 2, Titus Pullus is the spark that ignites the crisis that brings down the Republic, basically because he decided to go gambling in the wrong bar the night before.

When you're adapting historical material, and even sometimes when you're adapting a novel of great scope and many characters, it's often useful to figure out what familiar story is the kernel of the story you want to tell. It's a rare movie that manages to show historical events in a compelling way without rendering them down into basic human stories of much smaller scope. (Gettysburg does a pretty good job of making a big sweeping story compelling without rendering it down; it really is about the battle.) You're trying to tell the story of the rise of Julius Caesar? It's so big, how do you figure out how to put it on the screen? Tell it through the point of view of two soldiers -- one an educated, devout republican, the other a common rogue -- and it becomes small enough to fit.

Suppose you were doing the fall of Julius Caesar. You could make it a father and son story -- a family drama about how Brutus came to murder the man who saw him as a son. You could make it a coming of age story -- how Octavian had to grow up fast once his uncle was murdered on the Senate floor. You could make it a love story -- as Rome does for a few episodes, when it seems like Caesar is not pursuing Pompey because he's in love with Servilia.

But pick a story and stick with it. The brain can absorb the vast sweep of armies best when it's filtered through one or two human stories before it is refiltered through the camera's lens. And if we understand the small stories, we can use them as a back door into the larger stories.

Labels:

4 Comments:

We've been watching Rome as well through Netflix, and are as captivated as you are. The focus on Pullo and Vorenus is probably the best artistic choice they made as a series. They can play with the characters, make them do things that are a little silly, make them bicker, and even if we the viewers know Roman history, we can still be surprised by them.

If the series had focused on Caesar and Antony as the central characters, and made them comically inept, then it would just seem like a farce, a parody of history. But the show gives the public figures a certain public dignity--except for Cleopatra, but perhaps that's another story.

It also strikes an ingenious balance between the familiar and the bizarre. Pullo and Vorenus are just like us, in many ways. But in many ways, they're living in a world that is not like ours. They're our way in, and I think we can accept a little more commentary from them than we can from other characters.

http://thirdreel.livejournal.com/

By Blogger Andrew, at 9:43 AM  

I like to think of Pullo and Vorenus as the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of ROME.

By Blogger Andy Diggle, at 11:23 AM  

I've always thought of Pullo and Vorenus as the ancient Roman version of NYPD Blue's Sipowicz and Kelly. The bonehead who's totally loyal and the good guy whose internal compass only causes him more pain.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:31 AM  

I was interested to hear that they were real people -- the only footsoldiers that Julius Caesar mentions by name in THE CONQUEST OF GAUL. There's one anecdote about their friendship/rivalry that sets their characters and leaves them wide open for fictional development. A brilliant move to pick them up and run with them, IMHOP.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 6:45 AM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.



This page is powered by Blogger.