ROMAN HOLIDAY + THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN + MAMMA ROMA + THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY: The Top Movies Set in Ancient Rome
The “Gladiator Effect” has now spread to TV and iGaming, too – what makes it so epic?
You might be forgiven for thinking that the “Gladiator Effect” began with Russell Crowe and “Gladiator” at the turn of the Millenium, but Hollywood fell in love with Rome long before this. All the way back in 1953 when Audrey Hepburn was still being called a “newcomer”, she starred in a film called “Roman Holiday”. In this movie, Hepburn plays a princess who absconds during a royal visit to explore the Italian capital.
Even before this, what they call the “Eternal City” has always been one of Cinema’s great cities. When Roman Holiday was briefly shown again in cinemas back in 2015, the British Film Institute decided to take a look at some of the very best movies that have been shot in Ancient Rome.
We’re going to pay tribute to a few of these fantastic pieces of cinema in just a moment, but first let’s explore some of the other avenues that this theme has opened up in modern culture...
Ancient Rome in the iGaming Industry
Browse the Unibet Casino Lobby and you’ll find numerous titles which use this theme to great effect. One of the newest games to show up on the web’s premier slot library is NetEnt’s Rome: The Golden Age, a 20-payline game featuring free spins, increasing multipliers, bonus meters, ultra-high volatility with a maximum win of 100,000x your stake and an RTP of 96.02%.
Yggdrasil have put out a new Rome-themed game this month too, another 20-payline offering with multiple different free spin rounds and a tonne of chances to win big. The jackpot isn’t going to challenge NetEnt’s game, with a 1,200 coin top prize for the highest paying combination, although this can be won multiple times during the feature, and the games multiplier system means you could still walk away with some serious winnings on a good day.
Other big titles include Game of Gladiators from Play’n’Go, Wild Gladiators from Pragmatic Play, and Marching Legions by Relax Gaming, which features the ever-popular 243-ways to win payout mechanic.
If you’re more of a console/PC gamer, be sure to check out Total War: Rome II, the Assassin’s Creed series, and who could forget 1990’s classic Centurion: Defender of Rome for Amiga & Sega Megadrive?
Our Must-see Movies Set in Ancient Rome
Following hot on the heels of Hepburn’s outing in Roman Holiday came “Three Coins in the Fountain”. Taking advantage of the latest CinemaScope filming technology, 20th Century Fox pulled a blinder here with a picture-postcard romantic comedy about three three young American women searching for love on the streets of the Eternal City.
If you’re wondering about the fountain in the title, it is of course the Trevi fountain, which would be immortalized in picture history just a few short years later with the launch of of Fellini’s La dolce vita. That film doesn’t make our main list, being an Italian movie, but it did win the Golden Palm at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival as well as an Oscar for it’s Costume Design.
Deserving a paragraph all of it’s own, Pier Paolo Pasolini and his starlet Anna Magnani only worked together once, but what an outing it was. Magnani played the part of a middle-aged “lady of the night” is reunited with her teenage son and sets out to leave her former life behind.
Magnani had portrayed roles in several films set in Rome already, including Rome, Open City (1945) and Bellissima (1951), but it was Mamma Roma which truly secured her place as a living legend of Roman culture. As for director Pasolini, he had been in Rome for a while already too, and had already written several novels and two other feature films before finally hitting his breakout hit with Mamma Roma.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel of the same name has been made into a number of film adaptations, but none more striking than this 1999 release which saw Matt Damon film almost entirely on location in Italy, with the exception of a few early scenes that used New York City for their backdrop.
The cliffside resort town of Positano and various villages on the islands of Ischia and Procida, near Naples, were used to portray the fictional town of Mongibello. The cast and crew struggled with frequent unpredictable rain, hampering their efforts to portray the gorgeous Mediterranean world that director Anthony Minghella insisted on capturing, even if it meant hundreds of takes – sometimes just a few words at a time.
The end result is an unforgettable film that captures the beauty of Southern Italy better than nature had desired!