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January 05 2010 tags Spartacus: Blood And Sand as one of January's Best New TV Shows. "Could very well prove the Not At All Guilty Pleasure of the season."

I've seen the first 2 eps, and I agree with this guy.

I hope it's better than the comic book prequel.
How did you feel about the movies '300' and 'Gladiator,' Simon?

[ edited by ProgGrrl on 2010-01-05 17:34 ]
Yeah, this kinda looks like "300: the TV show." Not necessarily a bad thing, but I wonder how sustainable the idea is. If they get into the historical Spartacus revolt, however, I might be more interested.

The sex certainly catches the eye.
How did you feel about the movies '300' and 'Gladiator,' Simon?

I liked Gladiator, 300 on the other hand was like watching cut scenes from a video game.
I never managed to finish watching 300. Watching it, I remember thinking "this is so cool" but at the same time completely devoid of substance. Still haven't seen Gladiator, either. I had a Physics teacher who maintained you weren't a real man until you'd seen that film, so maybe I should sometime. Ridley Scott, too..

As for Spartacus, this is the second good thing I've heard about it. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.
I've seen a bit of it. It's got some promising angles, especially if you're into Gladiator, and it's VERY explicit both in terms of sex and violence. But the plot so far seems fairly ordinary, and the dialogue put me off a bit. I've never understood the logic by which antique Romans (and Thracians, in this case) are expected to speak vaguely 19th-century-ish English; if you're going to translate it, translate it.
I loved the movie Gladiator, and the HBO series ROME. But I did not care for the style of filming in 300. I have tried three times to watch it all the way through. Just don't care for it. So probably will skip this new show. Shame too, as I have a big girl-crush on Lucy Lawless.

And beergood, I agree with you on the dialogue and speech.
"if you're going to translate it, translate it"

Couldn't agree more. Even better, don't translate it, and have them all speaking Ancient Greek/Latin/whatever's appropriate. That would be glorious. Unfortunately, I'm not sure there are many actors who can speak those these days..
I was going to ask what the Whedonverse connection was, then I looked at the tags.

Je suis dense.
Too bad I have to wait for the dvd set. I don't know anybody that gets the Starz channel (neither had I heard of it before).
spooforbrains, several Dollhouse writers are working on it as well (most recently Jed and Maurissa were announced as writers.)
Plus it's being marketed primarily to a North American audience (Canadians--believe it or not, despite not getting Starz, we get to see it too--The Movie Network picked it up). I don't like that these sort of epics almost always go for British-accented characters either (it's appropriate and more than welcome when you've got something like Braveheart, obviously...Scottish in that case, even better than most of the various Brit-voices, though I've no clue how well a job Mel Gibson and some of the Brit actors in that were perceived to have done by modern day Scots). I was watching an adaptation of Hercules recently (made-for-TV, had Sean Astin, Leelee Sobieski, Timothy Dalton, and Elizabeth Perkins in it...and a ridiculously hot/built and youthful Hercules, but no beard unfortunately--kind of an essential iconic character thing, that beard, but Kevin Sorbo's series ignored it too, unless he had a few episodes with one that I didn't catch--and the accents were all over the place. You had Americans attempting almost-British-sounding accents, actual Brits using their real accents, and some Americans and Canadians just not bothering to try).

The Old-ish English thing for sword & sandal epics and period pieces probably has something to do with The Theatre/Shakespeare and how moviemakers/TV creators believe the audience expects the past to sound.

Would've been way more cool to have 'em speaking Ancient Greek or whatever, but they're not gonna risk alienating a sizeable portion of their audience with subtitles. Also, this allows them to feature recognizables.

[ edited by Kris on 2010-01-05 20:42 ]
We'll I'm definitely checking this out. Just too many good people behind the camera for this to suck.
Yep, i'll be watching. Enjoyed though had issues with '300' but not really the violence or how it was shot, that worked quite well in context (i.e. of relating legends of heroes past). And was never quite as keen on 'Gladiator' as almost everyone else I know (the dialogue in particular was a bit ropey in places IMO).

The Old-ish English thing for sword & sandal epics and period pieces probably has something to do with The Theatre/Shakespeare and how moviemakers/TV creators believe the audience expects the past to sound.

Hmm, maybe. I also think the older dialect English is partly to remind you that they're not actually speaking English (same with the accents though that obviously works best if you're not British ;). It's close enough that the mainstream viewer can understand it without needing subtitles (unlike Latin or Greek) - for some reason lots of people seem reluctant to read subtitles for any length of time, nevermind the production issues with having actors speak a language they very likely don't - but "exotic" enough that it's a constant reminder that you're not in Kansas anymore.

...though I've no clue how well a job Mel Gibson and some of the Brit actors in that were perceived to have done by modern day Scots...

It's not going to fool many Scots put it that way ;) (not so long ago i'd have said it wouldn't fool any but i'm realising everyone has a different ear for accents). Heard worse attempts though and in context, it wasn't (usually) so bad that it took me out of the film (he carried it fine in other respects though, I still wince thinking about the battle scenes, suitably brutal and chaotic to ring true). A lot of the other actors were either Scots or Irish (who have a leg up doing Scottish accents IMO and vice versa) but of the rest, most did OK I reckon.
The British accent convention may have originated with the talkie version of Ben Hur (the one with Kirk Douglas). IIRC, in that movie the upper class Romans spoke with posh English accents and the slaves, who were of other ethnicities, spoke American. The idea was to equate the Roman Empire with the British Empire.

Now that America is the closest thing to an imperial power, this convention no longer makes sense. Culturally the Romans were more like Americans than like the British. Most of the Romans should have Chicago or New Jersey accents, and the Greek tutors should speak educated British.
Yeah, they followed that convention in the original 'Spartacus' movie too (helped by most/all of the Romans being Brits anyway) [ETA: Actually, you might not mean 'Ben Hur' janef since that was Charlton Heston - Kirk Douglas played Spartacus in the original film[/ETA]). Is it everyone in this though or do the non-Romans have different accents (possibly American even though i'm not sure there are actually that many Americans in it) - only seen the trailer so don't know myself ?

[ edited by Saje on 2010-01-06 08:16 ]
I didn't like Gladiator and wasn't interested in seeing 300, but I liked reading Spartacus so there's hope for me.
Saje, I've only seen bits of both movies on TV (Ben Hur and Spartacus). I might well be mixing them up. Which movie has the veiled homoerotic scene at the baths?

You may be right on different ethnicities having different accents, too. Hollywood Biblical epics often give Judeans a different accent from the rest of the cast. However, I'll stand by the upper class British accent for rulers/American accent for downtrodden common folk.
5 of the Dollhouse writers are working (or have worked) on this series. I've seen half the first season now: I like it.
Saje, I've only seen bits of both movies on TV (Ben Hur and Spartacus). I might well be mixing them up. Which movie has the veiled homoerotic scene at the baths?

That's 'Spartacus' (between Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier), not sure how veiled i'd call it though (apparently there're a couple of versions, one where it's quite overt and one where it's only subtly suggested. Never quite sure which one i've seen but to me it's not particularly hidden - I mean, they're in the bath together and Curtis is washing Olivier IIRC, it's practically pre-slashed ;).

And yeah, you're not wrong about the accent split in general janef, an upper class English accent is accepted as the sound of the ruling class, regardless of how increasingly inaccurate that is geopolitically. I was specifically wondering about this show though cos I can't really tell from the small snippets i've seen so far (gossi, ProgGrrl ?).
I too have a massive girl crush on Lucy Lawless. I am as excited about this show starting as I was about Dollhouse. The only thing that could make me more excited would be Latin or Greek dialogue - but I have to say, when I watched "The Passion of the Christ" the Italian pronunciation of Latin grated on my nerves a bit (I only use classical pronunciation), and was not historically accurate (and Greek would have been a better choice), so that sort of killed the effect it was probably supposed to have on me. I give Mel Gibson big kudos for trying that out, though, and he did have his own reasoning for choosing non-classical pronunciation of Latin, it was a conscious choice. I do imagine that something like that would alienate too many viewers for it to be a viable option for a television series. Also, if you were going to have your actors speaking ancient languages, what would you do with Illyrian, Thracian etc. characters, whose native languages are barely attested? Just saying. And yes, I am a nitpicker :)

Rome had SOME Greek in it I believe, I remember a scene with a slave girl reading Sappho aloud in Greek, and I really liked that they had put that in there.
That looks awesome. I can't wait.
I use classical Latin pronunciation too. However, my high school Latin teacher did not teach us to pronounce the difference between long vowels and short vowels. The vernacular of most people living in Palestine and Syria during the classical period was Aramaic (which is a cousin of Hebrew, as Spanish and Italian are cousins.) I read somewhere that ancient Greek was a tonal language like Chinese, and I skimmed a paper on what those tones might have been. Hardly anyone teaches or recites Greek with tonal pronunciation, but using received academic pronunciation isn't particularly historically accurate, I guess.

One thing I liked about Rome was that they called on specific deities, some of them not Olympians, rather than using generic "by the gods" oaths.
Greek isn't tonal in that tones have phonemic quality - words aren't distinguished by what tone the vowel is pronounced in (as in Chinese), but rather it uses a tone accent instead of stress accent, as do several other Indo-European languages. The tones are rising, falling and rising-falling, of which only long vowels or diphthongs can take the rising-falling accent; I was taught the tonal pronunciation, so it is taught, just not in North America as far as I've been able to tell. Much about received academic pronunciation isn't historically accurate as far as Greek is concerned, but fine, whatever. However, given the choice between classical and traditional (geographically restricted) pronunciation Mel Gibson chose the latter, which I think he shouldn't have done, is all. All the same, kudos for trying it out.

Yes, the vernacular of most people living in Palestine and Syria during the classical period was Aramaic, but Ancient Greek was used in business, government, etc. at that time as it was used throughout the eastern Roman empire. I'm not trying to be snotty, I just think that if someone were to go to all the trouble to produce a t.v. series or a movie in Latin or Greek they should take the time to do it right.

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