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By Joseph Romero

PARIS, 20 September 2006—The mainstream enthusiasm for Gladiator, Ridley Scott's Oscar Best Picture nominated movie of 2001 starring Russell Crowe encouraged the entertainment industry and others to try to replicate its commercial success.

But neither of Hollywood's lame, lamentable big-screen cracks at the historical swords-and-robes genre (Troy and Alexander) came close to the success of their predecessor, and the more recent HBO miniseries Rome (a.k.a. "Sex and the Eternal City"), however well-researched, was perhaps too British to seduce the same audience.

The latest effort in the genre, however, may have something original about it. French impressario and director Robert Hossein's recreation of Ben-Hur in France's biggest football stadium just outside Paris is scheduled to run from 22 to 30 September 2006.

Photo courtesy of AFP

Hossein's spectacle boasts a cast of several hundred, features a Roman triumph or army grand parade, battle scenes, gladiatorial combat, a chariot race staged by Mario Luraschi and took almost a year to produce.

But while Hossein has the undeniable ability to fill thousands of seats with his popular and sometimes over-the-top historical frescos, he has never been a favourite with le tout Paris or serious French critics. The promised circus, even served up on the best bread in Paris, may well not satisfy those with an appetite for real cultural meat.

22, 23, 26, 29 and 30 September 2006 at 20 h 45 (8:45 pm)
Stade de France
Saint Denis
Tel: (33) 0 892 700 900

Related CK Archives: Gladiators and Caesars, the power of spectacle in ancient Rome

Money, Power and Politics in the Roman Empire 

Book Tip: Romanization in the Time of Augustus

Film Review: Gladiator

Film Review: Titus

Pompei: A l'ombre du Vésuve

Photo: Gladiator's Helmet
First century AD , Italy
Bronze, 33 x 36.8 x 57.2 cm
Higgins Armory Museum
Worcester, Massachusetts
Photo courtesy of Higgins Armory Museum

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