HBO’s Rome to become a big-screen Bible epic?

I never saw the short-lived HBO series Rome (2005-2007), but I have long wanted to do so. And now I am more interested than ever, after reading an interview with series creator Bruno Heller in the Hollywood Reporter, in which he discusses how he hopes to wrap things up with a big-screen movie:

A feature revival of a defunct series always is considered difficult, though HBO succeeded with “Sex and the City,” and Fox’s “Arrested Development” is making progress toward the big screen. Heller would not discuss plot ideas, but the original series outline for “Rome” next called for the hedonistic Roman leaders to deal with the rise of a certain problematic rabbi — a story line that would have put a whole new spin on the Greatest Story Ever Told and potentially bring “Rome” a larger audience.

“I discovered halfway through writing the second season the show was going to end,” Heller said. “The second was going to end with death of Brutus. Third and fourth season would be set in Egypt. Fifth was going to be the rise of the messiah in Palestine. But because we got the heads-up that the second season would be it, I telescoped the third and fourth season into the second one, which accounts for the blazing speed we go through history near the end. There’s certainly more than enough history to go around.”

Now, it is possible that the movie will go in a different direction. But if they stick with the rise of Christianity, and if they tell it primarily from the Romans’ point of view, then that could be very, very interesting. And I say this as a lifelong fan of A.D. Anno Domini (1985), a mini-series that was based on the Book of Acts and the lives of the Caesars in about equal proportion.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).