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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
Beautifully filmed, Inspiring story
By D Halinka
The story of Katherine of Alexandria in Decline of Empire depicts a tragic life of a well educated, beautiful young woman whose teachings attracted many followers but ultimately resulted in her death at the hands of the Roman soldiers who followed the orders of the emperor to kill her for her beliefs. The film has a splendid cast of actors, including the late Peter O'Tool, Edward Fox, Steven Berkoff and Sam Beckingsale whose superb acting enhances the portrayal of the movie's characters. I felt that the debutant actors playing Constantine and Katherine more than rose to their roles' expectations in their quest to deliver a worthy performance. The film contains many beautifully shot scenes, has crispy and clear sound and enchanting background music. I take my hat off to the director and producers of the film for completing this movie on a relatively small budget and sharing this inspring story with the viewers worldwide. I very much enjoyed watching it.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful.
Unique take on St. Catherine of Alexandria and Constantine the Great
By Transcendental Thomist
Here's an edifying British historical drama on the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria, a 4th century Christian martyr, and the concurrent rise of Emperor Constantine the Great who legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire. Some poetic license fudges the historical details of Constantine's life and family relationships to link him with Catherine, but the movie's depiction of a little-filmed story is consistently fascinating enough to forgive this conceit. Beginning with Constantine campaigning in Britain against fierce barbarians, the film links his rise as emperor to the details of Catherine's life, culminating in the former's defeat of Maxentius at the Milvian bridge (fictionalized almost beyond reality) and the latter's martyrdom (completely faithful to the record) in Egypt.
Highlights include beautiful cinematography, restrained special effects, and solid acting. Despite its small budget, the film looks and sounds better than most direct-to-video or made-for-TV affairs, exuding quality in many aspects. For amusement we get a few lively scenes featuring a fierce group of Scottish(?) barbarian women, widows of native tribesmen killed in battle, who continue the unending campaign against Rome's occupation of Britain. Extra features include a solid making-of documentary that describes filmmaker Michael Redwood's labor of love in making what seems to be a Christian alternative to the dreadful "Agora" with Rachel Weisz. All of these elements are to the film's benefit.
The script is unusually literate and a bit slow-moving, belying the DVD's cover art and occasionally weighing things down, but the excellent cast of mostly-British heavyweights -- Edward Fox, Steven Berkoff, Joss Ackland, and Peter O'Toole in his last role -- makes every scene watchable. Unknown actors play Constantine heroically and Catherine stoically, imbuing the former with a passionate drive and the latter with a stoic philosophical mysticism which seem to suit the characters. Catherine's story is handled best here, with the young actress's slow delivery making sense for her character of a 4th century philosopher, even if it may strike some viewers as amateurish. What can I say? It worked for me. Catherine's trial and martyrdom, although hard to follow due to the script's muddled narrative, is the most inspiring sequence of the film and is faithful to the sparse historical record. Viewers won't come away with a very clear idea of why Catherine rose to be among the most popular Christian saints, becoming one of the 14 "holy helpers" of the Middle Ages and a subject of Joan of Arc's visions. But her courage and intelligence are admirably depicted.
Finally, I should note that the movie is rated R, presumably for the mildly intense martyrdom scenes, but it probably could have gotten away with a PG-13 rating. There's really very little violence or blood in the film overall, no sex, and no profanity. It's much tamer than the similar battles and martyrdom stuff in the Cristero War epic "For Greater Glory" (2012) and other R-rated films that touch on Catholic martyrs.
I've watched a lot of "saint movies" and Catholic-themed historical dramas, many of which have been released on DVD in the U.S. by Ignatius Press, and this one is significantly better than average. It's not the best I've seen, as the Italian-language film "St. Barbara" on this same time period of early Christian martyrs is more gripping dramatically, for example. But it's far better than most of the RAI international religious co-productions (like "John XXIII" with Ed Asner) which tend to feature one well-known film star surrounded by terrible English dubbing of Italian actors and cringe-worthy fictional soap opera touches. This production is a bit slow-moving and incoherent at times, but it's a beautiful movie if you love history or saints, and there's nothing embarrassingly superstitious or scandalous about it. It's also worth watching to see Peter O'Toole on screen one last time, as his classy presence lends a poignant touch to the proceedings. Give it a chance and see if you like it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful. See all 50 customer reviews...
By James Ealy
love this stuff good movie