Giulio Cesare, il conquistatore delle Gallie
(Caesar the Conqueror) (1962)
Director: Amerigo Anton.
Starring: Cameron Mitchell (Julius Caesar), Rik Battaglia (Vercingetorix), Dominique Wilms (Queen Astrid), Ivica Pajer (Claudius Valerian), Raffaella Carr (Publia), Carlo Tamberlani (Pompey), Cesare Fantoni (Caius Opio), Giulio Donnini (Eporidorige), Nerio Bernardi (Cicero), Carla Cal (Calpurnia), Piero Palermini, Bruno Tocci (Mark Anthony), Aldo Pini (Quintus Cicero).
Caesar conquers Gaul
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"Gaul has submitted to the power of Rome. Julius Caesar now prepared to cross the sea to pursue his conquest of Britain in the year of 54 B.C". Caius Opius has arrived to meet with Caesar. They are old friends. He tells Caesar that in the Senate he has not been able to defeat all Caesar's enemies, including that great orator Cicero. His enemies prevent Caesar from getting the number of legions he has requested. Caius says they will never approve his expedition to Britain. Caesar says he will go to Rome to get what he needs.
A boxing/wrestling contest is taking place. It's a Gaul fighting a German. The Gaul wins the contest with a knock-out. Caesar asks the name of the winner and the man says Vercingetorix. As the winner, Caesar grants him his freedom.
"Vercingetorix becomes the leader of Gaul, urging the barbarian tribes to rebellion. Thus, Caesar is forced to return to Italy to reorganize his legions." In Rome at the Senate Caesar talks with Pompey. He gives him a message. Cassius asks Caesar if he trusts Pompey and Caesar says no because Pompey will speak against him.
Pompey says in the Senate that Caesar needs other Roman legions. Cicero objects that Caesar has not come before the Senate himself. He has not come to defend his role in the rebellion in Gaul. There is a general uproar between those for and against Caesar. Cicero warns that the ambitions of Caesar will mean the ruin of the republic. He goes on to say that the Senate should demand that Caesar return to Rome to justify his policies and actions.
Caesar wants his lovely ward Publia to marry one of his most trusted lieutenants. She will be the wife of Cicero's brother, Quintus Cicero. But, objects Publia, she does not love the man. Publia says she loves Claudius Valerian, one of Caesar's officers. She even promised she would marry him. Calpurnia, the wife of Caesar, says that was just a youthful whim and, besides, her father needs political support through a political marriage.
Caius Opius visits Calpurnia and Publia. He says that the Senate has voted to demand that Caesar return to Rome. Now Publia says she will go to Gaul to marry Quintus Cicero. Caius will tell Cicero about the marriage and then Cicero will see the necessity of keeping Caesar in Gaul.
Casesar's generals come to speak to him. Their orders are to hold their positions in Gaul, but Publius speaks up and says they will obey the order, but that will be the death of all the generals Caesar sees before him. All Gaul is aflame! Caesar tells Publius and the others to tell their men that Caesar promises victory in Gaul. The officers file out, but Caesar grabs Quintus Cicero to tell him that he wants the marriage to his ward to be held as quickly as possible. Caesar's aide is Claudius Valerian and he tells Caesar that it is not safe for Publia to travel at this time in Gaul. Caesar tells him that he will vouch for the safety of the roads and he should not worry. Claudius is sad to hear the news about Publia.
Caesar writes letters. One of them is to Calpurnia. He says next month it will be three years since he held her in his arms. The other is to Caius Opius. Caesar then tells Claudius Valerian that they are heading back into Gaul. He will put down the Gaul leader Vercingetorix and then who will deny Caesar what he wants? Claudius says it's impossible. So Caesar shows him. Here Marcus Levinius is in charge of troops, here are the legions of Titus and Cicero's camp is here. They will converge and together face the Gauls. Quintus Subinus will keep open the road to Italy so that Publia will be safe traveling to Quintus Cicero.
Quintus Subinus receives the message to hold his area, but he has no intention of staying. He and his troops are leaving for Italy and they will burn the camp. His subordinate says that's treason, but Quintus reminds him that it is he, Quintus, that is in charge here.
Vercingetorix tells his chiefs that they will destroy the Roman legions while Caesar is in Italy. Queen Astrid comes in to offer Vercingetorix her alliance. She, the Queen of the Suavis, says she hates Rome because they have killed so many of her people and devastated her land. She wants to be at his side to avenge her people. Vercingetorix agrees.
Vercingetorix captures Quintus Subinus. He tries to force his captive to talk, but Quintus just spits in his face. For this Vercingetorix kills Quintus.
The chiefs of the tribes allied with Caesar speak with Vercingetorix about allying with him instead of Caesar. But they want the Roman gold stored in one of the towns. Vercingetorix says that's a high price, but agrees to the bargain. One of the chiefs remains with Vercingetorix as a hostage to assure that Vercingetorix will not be betrayed. Queen Astrid comes in to speak with Vercingetorix again. The Gaul leader says that the Queen is too beautiful to be involved in war. They kiss.
Publia rides in a wagon with a blonde female companion. They will soon be at the camp of Quintus Cicero. As they get closer, they see the remnants of a battle. A Roman survivor tells the recent arrivals not to go into the forest because it is full of the enemy. He says his fellow soldiers are all dead. As they talk with the blind man, a Gaul warrior hits the survivor in the back with an arrow. It's an ambush. The two women try to run away, but they are captured. They are taken to meet Vercingetorix. He laughs when he learns they have captured Caesar's ward. Vercingetorix turns them over to the man who captured them and tells the man that the women are to be treated as guests. Astrid demands to know from Vercingetorix why he didn't kill the Roman women? He answers that he doesn't kill hostages.
Attached to an arrow a message is shot onto the wall of the Roman fort. It says that Vercingetorix wants them to surrender so that Publia can remain alive and be given over to the Romans. Quintus Cicero says he will trade himself for Publia. The tribes once loyal to Caesar are in the area and sending call signals to one another. Quintus says they will torture their captive to find out what the calls mean. The man tells them that the messages say that Caesar has returned to Gaul; joined with the legions; won a great battle in Albernia; and has occupied the city of the Vaticum. The Romans are delighted to hear that news.
Vercingetorix tells his men to start a scorched earth policy so that the Romans cannot get any supplies. A messenger tells Caesar that his unit is running low on supplies and cannot continue moving forward. Caesar tells the messenger to convey the order to Libianus that he is to break camp and march through Cretzia (?) and await further instruction there. The messenger leaves and Claudius comes in. Caesar gives Claudius the message to go to Quintus Cicero and tell him the marriage is off. The marriage is now no longer politically expedient. Claudius says: "I'll be happy to carry out these orders."
The Gauls watch Claudius and his five men head to deliver the message to Quintus Cicero. The Romans are suddenly attacked. Claudius is captured and tortured, but he won't talk. He claims that the message is written in Greek and he never studied Greek as the royals do. Publia is brought in. She tries to run to Claudius, but she is stopped. Vercingetorix demands that she translate the message, but Publia says she doesn't know Greek. Vercingetorix has Claudius burned with a hot iron. Publia agrees to translate the message if Vercingetorix agrees to spare the life of Claudius. Vercingetorix agrees. The message says: "Julius Caesar to Quintus Cicero. Greetings. Ten days after the new moon I shall leave the fortress. Join me with your legions. . . (unintelligible)." Now the Gauls know where Caesar is headed and they plan to meet him in force.
A messenger tells Caesar that all is calm ahead but there is no sign of Claudius. Caesar says they shall advance to the outskirts of Tregovia (?). The Gauls attack the forward group of troops. Caesar rushes to the rescue, but his troops are decimated. Caesar calls a retreat. Out of immediate danger, Caesar sets up a possible battle at the Fields of Elysia. At his side is Marc Antony who reports that he has only 200 men left in his legion. Caesar tells Antony to come with them to the fortress of Quintus Cicero. Vercingetorix will concentrate his troops at Elysia and the Romans will attack him there.
Publia bribes a guard to let her into the dungeon to see Claudius. Claudius tells her that he still loves her, but they are divided by the laughing of the Gauls at the defeat of Caesar. Publia tells him that he is wrong. Caesar is not defeated. This cheers Claudius and now he tells Publia that Caesar has returned her to him with the cancellation of the arranged marriage. They kiss.
The next morning Caesar is at Elysia preparing the Roman defenses. He confers with his staff telling them that Vercingetorix is holed up in the town of Elysia and he won't put up with a siege. Caesar wants to delay long enough for the legions of Titus to arrive. Caesar asks the spokesman for the chiefs of the local tribes where will his troops be stationed? He replies that they will be in the forest. Caesar says that their forces may prove decisive in the battle to come. Caesar wonders if he can trust these chiefs.
Vercingetorix has the right hand cut off of one of the chiefs for failing to bring him the amount of forces he asked from him. Vercingetorix has Publia on his left side and Queen Astrid on his right. He wants Publia to see how powerful the Gauls are. While the Gauls celebrate with their rituals, Publia slips out and returns to her room. Vercingetorix comes into her room. He sends her assistant away. Vercingetorix tells Publia that he doesn't need her as a hostage anymore and she will be one of his women. He forcefully kisses her on the neck, while Publia tries to get him off her. Queen Astrid enters the room stopping Vercingetorix from pursuing his lust. She says a messenger has arrived. The messenger is the chief who strategized with Caesar over the upcoming battle. He tells Vercingetorix that Caesar is expecting the arrival of Titus and his troops within two days.
Vercingetorix commands that all the chiefs together with him in council. He says he will give Publia to one of the chiefs as a prize. Astrid tells Publia that she hates her because Publia has robbed her of the love of Vercingetorix. Publia says she hates Vercingetorix. Astrid says that she will help Publia escape. Publia answers that she will accept only if Claudius is allowed to go with her. That's fine with Astrid.
Astrid walks Publia to the walls of the city where Claudius awaits her. They are given a horse. They head for help for Caesar's forces. On the way Publia says her assistant stay because she did not want to make Publia's escape any more difficult than it had to be.
Caesar readies to attack the Gauls waiting for him in front of the wall town of Elysia the town. He has Libianus on his right and Titus on his left. The cavalry will remain hidden behind the hills. He gives the order to attack and both armies run toward each other. After awhile, Caesar orders a retreat. In the battle the double-agent chief is killed. Night falls. Quintus Cicero dies from his wounds. Caesar gives water to some of the wounded. Looking over the battlefield with Marc Antony, Caesar says that they were betrayed by the double-agent.
Claudius and Publia arrive at their destination and tell the commander that his troops must go to the rescue of Caesar who was double-crossed.
In the morning the two armies meet again to fight. Astrid leads her troops in battle, but is hit with an arrow to her chest. Vercingetorix rushes to her, but she dies. The Gauls are gaining the upper hand again. But the arrival of the reinforcements roused by Claudius and Publia enables Caesar to win the battle. The Gauls have to run for their lives.
Vercingetorix rides out of the walled city and up to Caeser to surrender to the Roman leader. He throws his sword on the ground before Caesar. He asks for no mercy for himself, but only for his people. Caesar turns his army around and they leave.
Poor quality print. The colors were mostly black, white and red or reddish. There are no subtitles and it is hard (and sometimes impossible) to understand the names of people and places. The battle scenes are not all that good either. The only actor I liked was Cameron Mitchell as Julius Caesar.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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