Quo Vadis (1951)
– The opening scene of Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) entering Rome is one of the main inspirations for the opening of the Coen brothers’ 1950s Hollywood-set caper, Hail, Caesar!.
– Peter Ustinov’s Nero is one of cinema’s great villains, and one whose “genius” (to use his word) is immensely under-appreciated. As referenced in the podcast, Nero is all about the theatrics, composing while being pampered, “composing while he sings” at a party, and dramatically unveiling his plans for a new palatial complex, one that would replace much of Rome, leading to…
– The Great Fire of Rome (which also involves some imperial singing.)
– Christ speaks to St. Peter (Finlay Currie) on the road outside of Rome, saying through a child that he will be “crucified a second time” in Rome. Realizing what this means, Peter returns to the city to inspire the Christians about to be killed in the arena, ultimately leading to his own condemnation and crucifixion.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
– The Crusades, which occurred over two centuries, can be difficult to follow. Here is a brief summary of all 9 Crusades, plus the “People’s” and “Children’s” Crusades.
– This article breaks down all the differences between the maligned theatrical cut and the 45-minutes-longer director’s cut.
– Harry Gregson-Williams’ incredible score is by far the best part of this movie. Here is all 3 hours of it.
– Godfrey (Liam Neeson) sardonically tells Balian (Orlando Bloom) and the Hospitaller (David Thewlis) that he once fought 2 days with an arrow through his testicle.
– Leprous King Baldwin’s face is finally revealed when Sibylla (Eva Green) mournfully looks on her dead brother’s corpse and removes his mask. The music playing over this scene is “Vide Cor Meum,” an aria composed by Patrick Cassidy for Ridley Scott’s earlier film Hannibal.
– This speech by the Hospitaller destroys the aura of the film as it’s chock full of modern convictions about the dangers of zealous religious beliefs.
– After the Muslim army has taken Jerusalem, Saladin shows his respect for the Christians when he sees that a crucifix has been thrown to the floor. He respectfully picks it up and puts it back on a table, an act that had modern Middle Eastern filmgoers rising to their feet.
– Game of Thrones‘ Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) appears at the film’s end as Richard the Lionheart. Here, Balian repeats the line “You…continue until they speak something else” regarding the way to the Holy Land.
The Young Pope (2016-2017)
– We debated the nature of Lenny Belardo’s flawed-but-holy character, which can be perfectly summed up by this line from Guardians of the Galaxy. For the sake of time (because the entire show can basically be posted here), below are a few clips to get a taste of Pius XIII and the humor of this glorious, insane series:
– All Along the Watchtower
– Ketchikan, Alaska!
– The Pope’s snack
– The Pope as Banksy
– The kangaroo
– Pius XIII enters–nay, is carried into–the Sistine Chapel
– The Pope vs. the Prime Minister
– The Africa speech and Halo
– The Popes offer some advice
– Ben-Hur: We liked, but didn’t love, Ben-Hur, the 1959 Best Picture winner that also won 10 other Oscars including a Best Actor award for Charlton Heston. The rowing scenes are cool (Steve rowed in high school) and its famed chariot race lives up to its reputation–with one major caveat: we’d seen it all before in 1999’s Star War Episode I: The Phantom Menace. (George Lucas blatantly ripped it off for his podrace sequence, but as 7-year-olds, did we really know any better?) And, oh, look, it’s Peter from Quo Vadis, here playing Balthazar, one of the three wise men.
– The Passion of the Christ: Mel Gibson’s magnum opus is bloodier than any movie version of Christ’s crucifixion that’s come before it and will probably come after it. Whatever you want to say about Gibson’s personal life, The Passion of the Christ is a profound piece of cinema; Jim Caviezal’s performance is a godsend (pun intended) and the movie was a roaring success despite its ultra-violence. For at least a decade, it was the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, making over $600 million at the box office. Lastly, more movies should have characters speaking Aramaic and Latin.
– The Passion of Joan of Arc: Steve watched the 24fps version of Carl Th. Dreyer’s 1928 masterpiece, which has French subtitles and is accompanied by Richard Einhorn’s 1994 oratorio, “Visions of Light.” Chris, on the other hand, watched the slower 20fps Danish version, which is accompanied by a more low-key piano score by Mie Yanashita that better fits Dreyer’s vision of the movie. This review compares the two versions. (Incredible fact: the long-lost Danish version was discovered in the closet of an abandoned mental hospital in Oslo, Norway in 1981.)
– Rome Open City: There aren’t too many clips on YouTube, but here is one of the 1945 film’s most famous scenes, in which a woman is gunned down by Nazi soldiers.
– Spotlight: 2015’s Best Picture winner is still (unfortunately) relevant. Trailer here.
– Doubt: John Patrick Shanley’s 2008 adaptation of his own play has fantastic performances from 3 Oscar winners and also Amy Adams, all of whom were nominated for Academy Awards. This includes Viola Davis, who only appeared in a single scene (and it’s flippin’ great). Steve reviewed Doubt way, way back when he first started this blog, which can be found here. (Please be kind, it was his first ever review.)
– In his ranting(s) about Pope Francis, Chris mentioned the Taylor Marshall Show, a superb podcast by Dr. Taylor Marshall, a former Episcopalian priest who converted to Catholicism and has 8 children. Dr. Marshall has several informative YouTube videos on the current crisis in the Catholic Church, all definitely worth watching.
– Steve mentioned the exponentially lower-brow SSEU Podcast, which initially started out as a podcast based on another podcast but has now morphed into a bunch of Twitter friends interviewing one another about movies, joking about stool samples, and reading poetry about gas station food. (Full disclosure: Steve appeared on Episode 8, The Cactus and the Giant, which also had some pretty good show notes.) Their last episode was a direct inspiration for this one.
Poster for Quo Vadis, 1951 / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.