New Historical Film by Director Ivan Pavletic about the Very End of Roman Empire.
COMING IN FALL 2011 A.D.
A historical exploration of the power of human will, and the change it can make in the evolutionary cycle of our society. It explores the questions about the human state of mind through the changes in the ages of history, such as the very end of the Golden Age of Antiquity, giving way to a thousand years of Dark Ages, and the effect it had on the human psycho-physical state. As well as correlation of those times, to the times we live in today.
“Since the last Great Roman Victory, against Attila The Hun, led by General Flavius Aetius in 451 A.D. Flavius becomes known as the potential “Savior of Rome”, and is beloved by the people, more then Caesar him self. As Flavius Aetius' power grows among the people of Rome, the Aetius family becomes a growing threat to the Senate, until Flavius Aetius is finally murdered by a power hungry jealous Emperor, Valentinian III. From there on, Rome endures two decades of corruption and turmoil, until reaching it's very end in 476 A.D.
The victorious legions of Flavius Aetius, returning to Rome after the defeat of Attila the Hun at the Battle of Chalons, in 451 A.D.
Since the defeat of Attila and his Hun army, the Germanic tribes had been uniting once again, and growing strong against Rome. Flavius' son, Aetius Patrius Majorian, now a grown man, is the Commander of all the Roman Armies, and gathers the Last and the Best of all the Roman Centurions for one Final Battle of Rome. In these last moments of Antiquity, as we experience the eve of September 3rd, 476 A.D. After 12 centuries of power, Mighty Rome that once Ruled all the Known World, from the borders of Scotland to the Deserts of Arabia, has reached it's very end. The Twilight of an Ancient Age, and the Dawning of the New Dark Ages. As the Last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustulus, sits on his Throne in Rome, the Barbarian Ostrogoths under their leader Odoacer, sack the last stronghold North of Rome, the City of Ravenna.
Nevertheless, contrary to the warning of General Aetius Patrius Majorian, it is the popular belief, of Rome Lasting Forever, that stands in the way of evacuation of the city. It is the Roman tradition, of holding the Barbarians in contempt, as well as constant preaching by the Roman Senate, of "The Eternal Rome", that makes the possibility of Rome falling seem practically unimaginable. However, with the City of Ravenna fallen, North of Rome becomes completely unprotected. Thus the Ostrogoths finally reach the outskirts of Rome and wait at the gates of the city, ready to fulfill their long awaited dream after centuries of war, crushing Rome once and for all. Only one last stronghold remains, as they need to defeat the last of the of Roman Centurions”.
The question that comes to mind would be, what would make somebody write a Historic peace like 476 A.D. and even more, why? What message can be achieved with such a story, about one of the biggest social changes and transformations in written history. For me personally, the earliest roots of this idea go back as far as 20 years ago, during my own experience of “Dark Days”, during the independence war in Karlovac, Croatia. When my awareness of the times we live in, became far more deeper. While as a teenager, instead of going to the movies and discotheques, I had a real time movie playing right at home, ducking grenades and listening to the constant music of shrapnel. Realizing that beautiful memories of your childhood, can suddenly disappear and change dramatically right before your eyes, I realized, I was experiencing history in the making. This made me realize that the sadness of reality can not simply be cured by any adrenaline of the moment, as sooner or later, reality always hits you helplessly as a cold wave. However, out of those “Dark Days” of the early to mid 1990's, came an element of hope for something better, is it “Age of Aquarius”, or just a sense of some kind of change, there is always a need for some kind of light at the end of the tunnel.
Ostrogoths in a full final charge towards the Roman Legions.
Hence, after all that, at 19 I came by a book by Issac Newton, called “Principia Mathematica” which boosted my interest in an Astronomical/Astrological phenomenon called the Precession of the Equinoxes. Hence I made my first student experimental film, called “Age of the Pisces”. Perhaps this was the first idea, or even a form of a prequel to 476 A.D. In which, through an abstract correlation between changes in the times we live in, and the phenomenon of the Precession of the Equinoxes, or the Astro Ages of Constellations, I found some closure, and perhaps even some weird explanation of “Logic” to the dark chapter of Madness in the Balkans at the very end of the 20th century.
Thus, as we look at the economical and cultural situation of the world today, especially in the United States, there are obvious correlations we just can't ignore. Thus this gives us a sense of our beginnings, and reminds us to think of our history, “Historia est Magistra Vitae”. As the history is the best teacher in life, we can only look to the last time period in history, that can remind us of where we are today. Hence the later period of the Roman Empire, and the end of the advanced Antiquity giving way to the backward Middle Ages, has some eire similarity to the times we live in today. Perhaps a good example of this would be in 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran, and from a modern industrially developed country of the 1970's Iran, made a religious based dictatorship, culturally throwing the country hundreds of years backwards. Thus to understand the concept, and in fact the whole point and reason of going into such a gigantic Historical Feature Production with such a Low Budget, one must also understand the much deeper meaning behind this whole story. The question, what is it, that gives us the passion and the drive, as well as necessity to put a story like this on film, despite all the obstacles that ALWAYS occur on any film production, let alone a full feature film. It is the human necessity to tell a story, or better yet, make a difference with something new. A concept done in a certain way, that hasn't quite been done like that before.
Thus in order to achieve that, one must find a way how to shot a film like this in a Cinematographic style that is not quite like the other historical films. Better yet, it should not be a comparison, or a competition to any other films of a similar Genre. Not only shouldn't it be a comparison to other Historic Features, but a good Cinematographer should be careful, and even go out of their way, to make sure that the film doesn't even look like it's trying to compare, or compete to any other films. Where I believe the Director of Photography, DAVID QUAKENBUSH, did exactly that, and did a fantastic job with a very original Cinematographic look of the film. As well as extraordinary ability of of our London Costume Designer, ADRIANNA VEAL, who managed to create a whole army of hand made legitimate Ostrogoth uniforms, giving life to a historical event. It is interesting how as filmmakers, when confronted with the biggest obstacles of production, we tend to come up with the most original and ingenuitive ways of making it happen. And as a writer, producer and director of this film, I am certain, that it is only because of the genuine passion of the entire crew involved in this monumental undertaking, that we managed to bring this story to film. Without the genuine love and comradery of a wonderful crew of 476 A.D. this movie would of never been possible. And now it is planned for the official premiere in October, for the American Film Market.
Director Ivan Pavletic on the Film Set of 476 A.D.
As the Film Production Company, Artisk, Inc. made sure that the limited budget we had, had to be used in the most original ingenious way possible, we shot a lot of Low Angle and Medium Wide Angle Shots, as we couldn't afford thousands of Roman and Barbarian soldiers. Versus the more usual Wide Angle shots, used in the Classic Hollywood Big Budget Epics, such as William Wyler's Ben-Hur (1959) Produced by Sam Zimbalist, or the more contemporary Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000) Produced by our own Croatian Branko Lustig. Thus many times, we just had no choice, then to cheat and make due with that little budget we had.
Then comes the look of the film, and similar to the Big Budget Blockbusters, the overall look of the picture needs to be original, or at least made in a New Style. As the Motion Picture is a Motion Picture and can be changed in only so many ways, it can still be used in different combination of styles and looks. For instance, what Steven Spielberg did with Saving Private Ryan (1998), by distorting the colors of the film, to make it look like the Three-Strip Color film from 1930's and 40's, making it look exactly like the early documentary color films of WW II. Similarly in 476 A.D. We are using different types of pictures, as well as different film frame rates, for different times and moments in the film. Thus certain scenes, mostly of interiors of Rome it self are done in a more distorted color, and slight golden, even Sepia style, thanks to our F/X artist SHANNON WILKERSON. While the exteriors, and especially the battle sequences, we were going for a more Cinemascope 1953-1966 Hollywood look. Such as Day for Night shooting, to create that old style intense moonlight look, specially seen in the Roman Epics and Westerns of the Golden 1950's and 60's. Also known as the “American Night”.
Thus in order to fully understand this film, it is crucial to understand every aspect of our society and history, and find the correlations with the present times we live in. As the 21st Century United States of America, is the leading power in this world, so was once Ancient Rome, starting from the Roman Republic, 509 B.C.- 27 B.C., and later as an Empire from 27 B.C.- 476 A.D. A true power independent of the time period it is in, can only truly function, as a combination of many cultures of the world. Only when the best elements of each culture are combined via melting pot, into a single unified strength, can there be a true strong and functioning civilization. Such was the case with the Ancient Rome, and such is the case with the U.S. today. As both were born from a melting pot of many world cultures, they both became the child of centuries long experiences and varieties of different cultural knowledge, bringing its wisdom into one combined unity for something better. Even though, this might not be the case exactly in today's U.S., hence there is no American Emperor, however, as we look at the big picture, we can definitively see close, and sometimes even eerie similarities to both systems. Perhaps, the more closer similarity would be in our states of mind, the correlation, and even the parallels between the similar times we live in. As is with any civilization that flourishes, there is always an end somewhere. The question is the time, or better yet the length of the process that such a civilization might come to an end. Then as with everything else in this world, one time gives way to another age that takes over.
Second in command of all the Roman Armies, Libius Severus (Spencer Kane), right before the final Battle for Rome, on September 3rd, 476 A.D.
From the beginning of recorded history, there have been periods, or ages in our human evolution, with different civilizations that had flourished for a certain period of many generations, and just as equally, gave way to another upcoming age. This phenomenon in human evolution can be seen through the thousands of years of recorded history from the most earliest writings. As many also find new different upcoming ages as a certain form of apocalypse, such as with the 2012 theory, according to the Mayan Astronomy, many find the new upcoming different ages as something better and enlightening, perhaps even a period of relief. Is it fear or change, or the inability to let go of the old, the fact is, that people through their experiences from history, just know that there have been different civilizations before ours, and there will be different ones after our time as well.
Even though, if we as a human society fear change, the principal longing for all of the human kind is to prosper in one way or the other. Perhaps, with the past knowledge of our history as an example, or by pure human instinct of something different coming, there is always a certain awareness of what we have, and that one day we might not any more. Thus from Pax Romana, in the height of the Roman Civilization, to it's fall in 476 A.D. following the Medieval Period, and then again the slow rise during the Renaissance period, we as a human race have always found a way to get our selves back up as a society. As we better understand and appreciate what we have, only after we loose it, or just even when we start realizing that it is coming to an end, we tend to appreciate it more. So is the case with a time period we live in, and when we start realizing that it will not always be like that, then we really start to think.
Senator Magnus (Piotr Gzowski), Caesar Romulus Augustulus (Anthony Cubba), Libius Severus (Spencer Kane), and Aetius Patrius Majorian (James Russell).
Just like a school kid, realizing that it's the last week of the best summer ever, right before going back to school, the child suddenly starts to look at everything with more open eyes, and appreciating every moment of it. A society tends to go through such similar periods of awareness as well. A period of full realization of it self, and appreciation of what we have. It is those social changes, or even shocks, that in fact make the society progress and evolve. Hence, like the 60's and 70's, and what started being called the “Donning of the Age of Aquarius”, so was the case with the end of Antiquity, and the beginning of the new Dark Ages, past 476 A.D. The last major time that the world was passing from a lighter and simpler age of Antiquity, to a much darker, and heavier period of Church Dominated confusion in the human evolution. Such a similar Monumental Change of the human state of mind, didn't really start occurring again, until more contemporary times of the later 20th century, such as the Sexual Revolution of the late 1960's. When, at least in the Western Civilization, ever since Antiquity, for the first time in 1,500 years, the society truly managed to break away from the church dominated state of mind. When the socially deeply engrained moral values, that the Western Civilization held ever since the Dark Ages, didn't give in to a social revolution of finally accepting differences, such as Civil Rights of the 1960's, as well as Gay Rights, which even evolved to the freedom Gay Marriage today. Thus, in correlation with the times in history, with the present so called “Age of Aquarius”, it could also be compared that the fire like “Aries” Age of Fiery Rome ended somewhere around 476 A.D. And the Middle Ages, or the water like “Pisces” Age, or the Age of World Religions was just beginning. As we look at this interesting Astronomical Occurrence/Phenomenon, known as The Precession of the Equinoxes (Constellation of Ages), even a more eerier correlation in the historical times is evident. As the first Orb of influence of constellation Pisces within the Age of Aries occurred in 750 B.C., with the transition in 101 B.C., and the last Orb of Influence of Aries in the Age of Pisces occurred in 498 A.D. It almost exactly correlates with the period of Roman power and civilization. From the establishment of the Early Roman Kingdom in 753 B.C. To the deposition of the Last Roman Caesar Romulus Augustulus, and the Official End of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D.
When we take in consideration the elements regarding beliefs, and moral values between those different Ages of humanity, we also start noticing different characteristics in social structure of the society. Therefore, not only elements of religious beliefs and family values, but also going to the basic little human characteristics, such as sense of humor, diet, strength, sex, fear, and our whole basic psycho-physical state. Ergo if we do touch the matter of the whole human psycho-physical state of mind changing through the different ages and time periods in our human evolution, we can explain perhaps, why in the Medieval age, through the whole planet earth people seemed to be less resistant to so many diseases then in the previous times of Antiquity? Is it only that people were more clean in the Ancient times, and just had a more hygienic lifestyle? Or is it also perhaps, that the whole human state of mind in those more sunny lighter ancient days of Antiquity, was at a stronger and healthier, thus more resistant evolutionary level?
In the movie “476 A.D.” this is used in the line by Libius Severus, played by the Actor SPENCER KANE, “Those Sunny days of Rome we once knew and loved”. When Aetius Patrius Majorian, played by the Lead Actor JAMES RUSSELL, contemplates for a moment, and in a worried tone, says to Libius Severus, “I have dreamt of Days that are coming...A far darker time is ahead of us...Far heavier and colder, then the Sunny Days of Rome we are used to...”.
General Aetius Patrius Majorian (James Russell) spending the last evening with his wife Valeria (Kirsten Deane), before the final battle.
The historical facts do prove however, that the whole human race, post 5th century A.D., really did became backwards, and fear driven. The natural human individuality that was more evident during the Antiquity periods of ancient Greece, and Rome, suddenly seemed to have completely vanished among the human population. Hence, people simply blindly turned to one center that could possibly lead them, The Church, spreading fear and judgment, based on the human psycho-physical weakness of the time. From the demonization of women, as being practically machines for reproduction, to the very beginnings of the race based type of slavery that stuck to so many sub cultures, and perhaps is still visible in the U.S. today. A certain unnatural division among humans, based on a psycho-mental confusion of the soul of society as a whole, due to the lack of connection of people with their center. Something that was very evident during the whole period of Antiquity, and just simply got lost in the psychological chaos of the Dark Ages. Even though man has always been power hungry, independent of the times we lived in, as was the case from the early Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks, all the way to the Romans, however, there seems to be some major differences between those periods of Antiquity and the times that followed from the Dark Ages on. The Racism as we know today. Compared to the Middle Ages, during the period of Antiquity, the factor of Race or skin color didn't represent any major priority or meaning in the the power status, as power predominantly was based on a more natural selection of the survival of the fittest.
The ethnic origin of the rulers of Antiquity did not really bring any depth or levity to the society, as the true real concentration of the human race during this period, was primarily based on the basic human prosperity and happiness, as people were naturally more in touch with their inner center. Rather then the later church ideology based indoctrination for an afterlife as the only true happiness, while demeaning almost every natural beauty of earthly existence of life it self. Hence during the Roman Empire, there were black African Emperors in a European city of Rome, such as Septimus Severus for instance. Where only a 1,000 years later, something like that would be absolutely unimaginable. Hence a more sicker and completely unnatural division among humans begun, versus the natural selection of the psycho-physical endurance and strength.
On the film set of 476 A.D
This psychologically more sicker state of mind started when the power began to be based on ethnic origins, or better yet even sicker versus healthier. For it was the first time in recorded history, that the sicker and more depressed societies became the rulers over the healthier, as earthly health became just a random element of basic physical earthly existence, compared to the much more glorified afterlife of Purgatory, Heaven, or Hell. Versus the natural selection of the psycho-physical endurance and strength. Hence, such ideology later brought to Race Based Colonialism, which enslaved millions based on their skin color, and wiped out whole entire civilizations of Native Americans, based on religion, as the source of cleanliness and reformation for the so called uncivilized heathens and savages. Thus, it is just this state of mind that started the British campaign of the 19th century, for the imperial tariffs. Hence Joseph Chamberlain's Colonial Commerce, and The White Man's Burden of 1899.
Thus from 476 A.D. on, the human morale started reaching an all time low since the beginning of the recorded history. Our civilization became almost completely lost from individual comprehension and understanding of our selves as human beings, and slowly, generation by generation, human beings started being psycho-physically weaker and weaker. To the point of absolute culmination of darkness of the Middle Ages, hence the infamous Black Death, or also known as the Bubonic Plague of the 14th century, that killed a third of the entire European population, or some 25 million people. Which in proportion to today's population of Europe, would be something like 300 million. Thus the fact that the human race, from Pax Romana in the height of Roman civilization, came so far down in only a 1,000 years, that a whole third of the European continent died from one single disease, just makes one think. How is it possible for such an extreme change to occur within our state of being, in less then a millennium? Perhaps, it is a necessary point in our evolutionary cycle, that humans need to loose their warmth and connection to nature, in order to differentiate them selves from such harmony that exists in nature? There can be many questions, and even more answers to such predicaments, but human natural necessity for a better existence and prosperity, is what will always bring us as a society, out of any black holes we might find our selves in.
By Ivan Pavletic Writer and Director
General Flavius Aetius (Ivan Pavletic) with his son, the young Aetius Patrius Majorian (Niko Pavletic).
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Very well done Ivan. Once in a while the real thing comes along brother and you are truly an original. I see why you tell me not to worry about others who may carry negativity. They have no clue where you or I have been, where we are in life as men, or will be as current and future film makers (WRITERS) Therein lies the key. Without story- genre will never matter. .
What an incredible second part of an already interesting historical piece. The movie has described and really shown us what the Roman Empire was at it's truest, raw form only portrayed here by the outstanding directing and acting in this form of movie making.. I have seen it more than once and I would encourage others to do so as well, but with additional attention to each actors story as they go through this epic part of history.