By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Well GO USA
Release Date: Sept 24, 2019
Romulus and Remus, we know the legend about them, but have we ever seen a movie about the founding of Rome? Despite the debate over how this city truly developed (there’s another account concerning a lady named Roma), what this movie, The First King (Il primo re), by director Matteo Rovere offers is plenty of true grit. Filippo Gravino and Francesca Manieri co-wrote the screenplay with this filmmaker, and what I saw is the relationship of the two brothers as they struggle against a greater enemy–destiny–as who will ultimately be leader.
Despite knowing the outcome, this film’s attention to historical accuracy for the more accepted version of how the city was made is one to pay attention to. A proto-Latin language was used and places we have never heard of (unless you’re a Greek and Roman studies major) are used. I recommend watching the film with this audio track instead of the English dub to get a feel of the authenticity of the era. The brothers (played by Alessandro Borghi and Alessio Lapice) are forced into gladiatorial games in a town called Alba Longa until they make good an escape. They flee and we slowly see the division forming between them as they figure out how to “handle the future.” Along the way, they pick up miscreants and other vagabonds who would ultimately help lay the foundation for what Rome is to become.
In a way, this movie is everything a proper Wild West movie should be: to survive in an uncertain world. There’s divine providence to save anyone. Religion plays a significant role–however those deities are a mountain-top away, uncaring. Vesta is perhaps the only force of concern since she’s a patron guardian of Rome (yet to be attained). This film is as realistic as it can be (or strangely ordained)
When a flash flood takes the brothers to where they need to be, perhaps that was by divine influence–but we’ll never know.
4 Stars out of 5
DVD/Blu-ray BONUS FEATURES:
- Making of
- English Language Available