Caesar has been assassinated. As the Roman Empire struggles to regain itself, a young Emperor stepsforward, prepared to claim the abandoned throne. He is Augustus, appointed to theRoman Consul at only 19 years of age and determined to leave the mark of his rule for centuries to come.
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Augustus is equal parts history lesson and soap opera, and thoroughly engaging at all levels. Peter O'Toole plays Octavius/Augustus, heir to his doomed uncle Julius Caesar's command of the far-flung Roman empire. Surviving an assassination attempt and struck by news of the death of his old friend and ally, Agrippa (Ken Duken), in the same day, Octavius waxes nostalgic about his youthful exploits in Caesar's army (Benjamin Sadler plays the young Augustus in flashbacks) and his unprepared immersion in the deadly politics of the Mark Antony (Massimo Ghini) era. More immediate are Octavius' problems trying to stave off conspiracies by his wife Livia (Charlotte Rampling) to set up the emperor's stepson, Tiberius (Michele Bevilacqua), as heir, and talk his dutiful daughter Julia (Vittoria Belvedere) into a marriage she doesn't want. Roger Young (Jesus) directs this highly watchable costume drama, and O'Toole's golden presence makes the ancient intrigues tragically human. --Tom Keogh
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