March 18, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I & III • Page 21 Biblical epic ‘Quo Vadis’ now on Blu-ray disc by Dennis Seuling “Quo Vadis” (Warner Home Video), a sumptuous epic of Romans and Christians in the first century A.D. released in 1951, ranked only behind “Gone with the Wind” for close to a decade as M-G-M’s biggest box office attraction. “Quo Vadis” was the first color film made at the Cinecitta Studio in Rome. The plot concerns Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor), commander of the Roman legions, who returns to Rome to receive great honors from the Empress after his conquests in Britain and falls in love with Christian slave girl Lygia (Deborah Kerr). They eventually marry, but Lygia’s devotion to Christianity drives them apart. When Emperor Nero (Peter Ustinov) sets fire to Rome, the two are reunited only to undergo greater trials and tribulations. Resisting pressure from production head Dory Schary to draw parallels between Nero and modern dictators, studio head Louis B. Mayer insisted on a more traditional style, emphasizing the glamour, splendor, and decadence of ancient Rome. Director Mervyn LeRoy encountered his greatest problem in a scene involving Christians and lions in the arena. Having obtained 120 lions from European circuses and zoos and with 6,000 extras in the stands, LeRoy had several lion tamers dressed as Christians to control the lions when the cameras rolled. The crowds started roaring on cue and all the lions charged into the ring as planned. But then the lions looked up at the blazing Italian sun, turned around, and headed back to their cool cages. The trainers suggested starving the lions for two weeks and reshooting. Two weeks later, wary of releasing hungry lions amid unprotected extras, but determined to get the footage, Leroy went through the whole massive undertaking once again. This time, the starving lions charged harder, roared louder, and looked up at the sun, turned around, and walked back inside. LeRoy resorted to stuffing some dummies, costumed as Christians, with raw meat. Taylor looks appropriately noble in his Roman get-up and Kerr is the Hollywood version of slave, with impeccable hair and makeup. Ustinov neatly steals the picture as the insane Nero, making “Quo Vadis” more than just another sword-andsandals flick. Nero’s madness gives license for Oscarnominated Ustinov to push the envelope in his portrayal of Wish upon a Star,” performed by Pinocchio’s conscience pal, Jiminy Cricket (voice of Cliff Edwards). Disney has included both standard DVD and Blu-ray versions of the movie in this exceptional release. Bonuses include a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, deleted songs, an alternate ending, puzzles, and a brief documentary about how Disney worked with his artists. The Blu-ray disc has several interactive BD-Live features. The Swedish vampire film “Let the Right One In” (Magnolia Home Entertainment) was released around the same time as the similarly-themed American movie “Twilight.” Though “Twilight” went on to earn far more at the box office, “Let the Right One In” is easily the better film. It may be the first vampire art film since Carl Dreyer’s 1932 “Vampyr.” Director Tomas Alfredson spins a kind of gothic fairy tale reminiscent in atmosphere of such films as “Pan’s Labyrinth.” In a small, isolated town in the dead of winter, lonely 12-year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) longs for a friend. He meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), a pale, oddly serious young girl who only comes out at night. With her arrival comes a series of disappearances and murders with blood a dominant clue. By the time Oskar realizes that Eli is a vampire, a gentle romance has blossomed. Eli (continued on Crossword page) Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr star in ‘Quo Vadis.’ a tyrant who regards himself a singer, composer, and poet. He has an especially effective scene in which he attempts to justify his heinous actions as artistic temperament. The Blu-ray release contains a digitally remastered, Hi-Def version of the movie, commentary chronicling the genesis of the production, and a featurette on the place of “Quo Vadis” among Biblical screen epics. “Pinocchio” (Walt Disney Home Entertainment) is newly available in Blu-ray in a slightly premature 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition (“Pinocchio” was released in 1940). With “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio” represents the epitome of animation art in the era of single-cel, individually painted images. That process, though still used, has largely been replaced by more costefficient computer animation. Some of the sequences are indelible: an ecstatic Pinocchio singing “I’ve Got No Strings” after his transformation to a real boy; the Pleasure Island sequence in which donkey ears unexpectedly grow on lads who have lost their moral compass; and the extraordinary Monstro the Whale scene in which a thrashing whale swallows Pinocchio and Gepetto. The film won a Best Song Oscar for “When You �������� ���������� ���������������������������������� ������������������ ������������������� ����������� BAR SPECIALS State Line 375 State Highway 17 North, Mahwah Open 24 Hours, 7 Days Join Us For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner The Best Got Better! Pasquale’s Pizza Parlor Diner - Restaurant 201-529-3353 1 Large Cheese Pizza FREE $ $ 795 3 12:00 - 2:00pm Corned Beef & Cabbage Guinness Smithwicks Jameson Shots plus tax served 12:00-9:00pm (regular menu also available) DINING ROOM SPECIALS Now Serving Cocktails, Espresso & Cappuccino $ 00 On $10.00 and over. With this coupon only. 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