Hannibal:  Rome's Worst Nightmare (2006)





Director:     Edward Bazalgette.

Starring:     Alexander Siddig (Hannibal),  Emilio Doorgasingh (Maharbal),  Bashar Rahal (Hasdrubal),  Mido Hamada (Mago),  Hristo Mitzkov (Gisko),  Shaun Dingwall (Scipio),  Tristan Gemmill (Varro),  Ben Cross (Fabius),  Valentin Ganev (Paulius),  Rob Dixon (Publius Scipio),  Hristo Mutafchiev (Vandicar),  Teodora Ivanova (Imilce),  Vincent Riotta (Hanno),  Ivan Petrushinov (Boii Chief ),  Kenneth Cranham (Narrator (voice)).

Made for TV movie. 

Hannibal marched 40,000 soldiers and 37 elephants 1,500 miles to fight the Romans in today's Italy



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

"2,000 years before the birth of Christ, the ancient empire of Carthage ruled the Mediterranean until Carthage was challenged and brutally defeated in a war by Rome."

"This film is based on actual events -- events that took place in the 3rd century BC recorded by historians of the time, verified by scholars today. "

A man tells a young boy (Hannibal) to put his hands in the blood. "I swear that for as long as I live I will be an enemy of Rome."  Hannibal was to become one of history's greatest leaders.

Hannibal says all he has ever known involves war between Carthage and Rome. His dad had fought Rome some 40 years earlier. Then they were defeated and humiliated. They were striped of their land.

Under the leadership of his father, Carthage expanded from northern Africa and into Spain.

Hannibal says he swore on his father's memory that Rome would be the empire destroyed and not Carthage. Hannibal meets Gaius Teremtois Varro who was a Roman envoy to Spain 219 BC. Hannibal presents his brothers Mago and Hasdrubal. The envoy says he's here because Carthage has made military threats on the city of Saguntum in southern Spain. Hannibal replies: "I have." The envoy says Saguntum is an ally and Rome offers her full protection. Hannibal says Saguntum attacks Spanish allies of Carthage. The envoy replies: "You make war on Saguntum, you make war on Rome."

Hannibal attacks Saguntum. He made the attack on Saguntum particularly brutal to make sure Rome declared war on Carthage. It did the trick.

Council of Elders, Carthage, North Africa. Autumn 219 BC. Fabius Maximus, Roman envoy to Carthage. Fabius says Rome will not tolerate this attack on their ally Saguntum.

Hanno the Great, a political enemy of Hannibal, says that Hannibal Barca is pushing Carthage into war. The decision is Rome will go to war against Carthage.

New Carthage, Spain, 218 BC. Hannibal builds up his army in Spain. The soldiers came from Spain and north Africa.

Mago, the youngest brother of Hannibal, and the infantry commander says Hannibal's soldiers are ready. Maharbal is the commander of the cavalry and a military advisor to Hannibal and he says his medium cavalry are faster than the Romans. There are 37 elephants with them.

Hannibal briefs his commanders. Rome is sending two armies against them. One will head to Sicily where they can attack Carthage at any time. The other army is in southern France and they will attack the Carthaginians on the western coast of Spain. A surprise for the latter army is that Carthage will already be driving up through Spain heading northeast. They will go through southern France and cross the Rhone River. Then they will head east to Italy. The surprise is that the Carthaginians are going over the Alps.

50,000 soldiers will head to Italy.  Hannibal says that Gisco has been in the Alps and has arranged for guides and a way through the mountains. In private, Hasdrubal says he doesn't like this plan. Hannibal says he is going to have Hasdrubal stay in Spain and protect the interests of Carthage.

Hannibal speaks with Imilce, wife of Hannibal and a Spanish Princess. Imilce was taken as a hostage from Spain to help ensure that the Spanish would go over to the Roman side.

In 218 BC Hannibal's army leaves southern Spain. The length  journey for some 90,000 foot soldiers and 12,000 cavalry is some 1,500 miles long.

In their first war with Rome, Carthage lost.   Rome thought the second war would go much like the first war. But Hannibal's major attribute was doing the very thing that Rome least suspected.

South of the River Ebro in Spain the Carthaginians walked through the land of their allies. North of the river they went through hostile territory. Many of the chiefs in this land were not loyal to Carthage or Rome. They had to give these "savages" jewels and gold.

The desertion rate among the soldiers starts to go higher and higher. Hannibal is not worried because he says the northern tribes will fill their ranks.

The Carthaginians are attacked by a savage tribe. The tribe's chief dies on the battlefield.

The Rhone Valley, southern France, autumn 218 BC. Hannibal gets a message that the Romans have landed at Marseilles in France. Hannibal will not stop to fight the Romans. They will be going over the Alps in winter or summer.

Consul Publius Scipio, commander of two Roman legions, learns that the Carthaginians have gone through the Pyrenees Mountains (on border between Spain and France) and are almost at the Rhone.

Publius Scipio II, son of the counsel, tells his father that Hannibal's obvious target will be Rome. The consul says that to get at Rome Hannibal will have to move along the coast and the Roman army will march to intercept Hannibal.

Hannibal's deserted camp, the Rhone Valley, autumn 218 BC. Hannibal had outperformed Publius Scipio. This was a lesson the son of Scipio would never forget.

The Carthaginians are in the Alps and they have 120 miles of snow, ice and rock to get through. Hannibal had entered the foothills of the Alps at the onset of winter.

Upon reaching altitudes of 8,000 feet, there was no food, shelter or respite. Each day the Carthaginians lost 1,000 men to the Alps. Hannibal keeps his soldiers moving day and night. Hannibal shouts: "No stopping or you're dead!"

Hannibal reaches the summit of the Alps, but finds the route down blocked . The soldiers put firewood next to the huge boulder that blocks them and heat it up. Wine is poured onto the rock. After awhile, the boulder breaks into many smaller parts.

The march from New Carthage took seven months. 70,000 men had died or deserted. Most of the elephants got through, but now they all are sick.

Hannibal starts talking to the chiefs of the northern tribes to woo them over as allies of Carthage.

Hannibal gives his soldiers a pep-talk and riles them up for a fight with the Romans, who will be well fortified and have full bellies. And there will be many more Romans than Carthaginians on the battlefield. But they have come here to fight for Carthage!

Advance Guard of Publius Scipio, northern Italy, November 218 BC. Scipio's army marches north to confront Hannibal. In the woods, however, Hannibal's forces attack. Scipio is hit in the arm with an arrow. His son rides his father away from the battlefield.

The battle ends with a victoryforf Hannibal. And at dinner Hannibal and his staff drink Roman wine. They discuss the two Scipios, father and son. Today the son saved his father's life.

Now with a Carthage victory, some of the northern tribes combine forces with Hannibal. The Roman response is to move its Second Army from Sicily to reinforce Scipio. The commander of the army is Consul Sempronius Longus. His forces march north, November 218 BC.

Longus meets with the recuperating Scipio. Scipio's advice is to hit Hannibal as fast as possible. Scipio says they should establish winter quarters, but Longus rejects that idea. He says tomorrow he marches on Trebia.

At the Battle of Trebia, 25,000 Roman troops are killed.

At Trasimene the two sides fought again. The Carthaginians forced the Romans into the lake and slaughtered 15,000 of their soldiers. Some of the Roman soldiers killed themselves by drowning.

Hannibal optimistically believes that with one more decisive victory, the war will be over. And his thoughts are on Rome itself since he is within striking distance now. They only have to cover 100 miles to be in Rome.

The Romans are a bit scared. A dictator, Fabius Maximus, is appointed. Fabius says that if they keep directly confronting the Carthaginians, Rome will be destroyed. "The best way to fight Hannibal is to not fight him at all." Instead, they will disrupt Hannibal's supply lines. This way they "can kick his army in the stomach".

It doesn't take long before Hannibal feels the effects of the new Roman strategy. He gets back at them by bunring all the fields and setting fire to Roman houses. This puts pressure on Fabius to attack Hannibal, but he is able to resist the criticism and continue with his policy of cutting the supply lines.

Hannibal's left eye gets badly infected and the doctor says the eye is inoperable. Hannibal wonders if this is an ill omen for Carthage.

A bunch of senators talk with Scipio, Jr. They say that Fabius' policies humiliates Rome. Scipio, Jr. says: "Our present tactics makes us look weak to our friends and allies. Hannibal is laughing at us."

Gaius Teremtois Varro tells Scipio, Jr. that the reign of Fabius is coming to an end. Varro himself is running for consul.

Six months later. Varro is elected as consul. Fabius is out and so is his policy of not confronting Hannibal. Scipio, Jr. is now a tribune in the new government.

Scipio is there with the largest army Rome has ever put together -- 8 legions with 85,000 soldiers. The big showdown is soon coming.

Southern Italy, 216 BC. Hannibal says that the Roman soldiers and officers know only one way to fight. The Carthaginians, however, will fight in a different way and chaos will dominate the Roman ranks.

Cannae, 1 August, 216 BC. Varro picks out a place to set up camp and to fight Hannibal when he comes for them. He says at least Hannibal's cavalry won't be able to get behind them. Paulus says he's not so sure about that.

Hannibal's Camp. Cannae, August 2nd 216 BC. Hannibal says their formation will be that of an arrow head. He is counting on Roman over-confidence to help them defeat themselves. And Hannibal will be using his cavalry. He says their cavalry will scater the Roman cavalry and this will spread "complete confusion" among the Romans.

When the infantry sees the Roman cavalry being defeated, just as Hannibal expected, they throw their first line of infantry into the battle. The Carthaginians fight the Romans head on. The plan is that when the Carthaginian line breaks the Romans will be sucked into the open area. "Let them taste victory!" And then they will throw in the Carthaginian reserves and encircle the Roman infantry on three sides. "They will have nowhere to go except backward." Then the cavalry will come up behind the retreating Romans and caught of their escape. "There will be no mercy."

Cannae, southern Italy, summer 216 BC. The battle went as planned. Hannibal walks through the battlefield. He finds the dead body of his commander Gisko. 60,000 Romans perished on the battlefield.

This was the darkest moment in the history of the Roman Republic. Hannibal had obliterated a good sized portion of the Roman army.

Hannibal tells Maharbal they will not march on Rome. The war is over. They have won. There's no need to tear Rome apart. His brother Mago says that Hannibal knows how to win, but he doesn't know what to do after victory.

Rome, however, still wants to fight. Fabius is back in power. He says Rome needs a new army now. He will also lower the age when a boy can join the army tot the age of seventeen. Fabius will also reduce the property qualifications for military service. Moreover, he will also take criminals and slaves to fight Carthage.  He says there will be no more pitched battles. They will grind down the Carthaginians bit by bit, day by day.

Hannibal is greatly disappointed and upset that Rome has not surrendered to him by now. He sends Maharbal to Carthage to tell them to send more troops.

The Council of Eders, Carthage, North Africa. Autumn 216 BC. Maharbal speaks to the Council of Elders. Hannibal's worst enemy stands up to say that Hannibal promised them a quick victory over the Romans. And yet, it has taken three years already. "This campaign is over, my friend. " And they want Hasdrubal to command the reinforcements they are sending to Spain.

Maharbal consults a sooth-sayer and she tells him that Hannibal's successes has made the men of the Council of Elders very envious and fearful of Hannibal. She adds: "If they are ready to abandon him because of his success, what will they do if he really fails?"

For the next seven years Hannibal was all on his own with no help from Carthage. Now he didn't have enough men to face the Romans in open battle.

Rome, 210 BC. Rome has grown strong again and now plans are drawn up to finish Hannibal off. Scipio Jr. is the one who comes up with a plan. While Hannibal is bogged down here, he will take an army and take back Spain from the Carthaginians. Fabius says he doesn't think Rome is willing to take the risk of such a plan. The leader was wrong, however, about he Romans.  They like the idea of Rome attacking Spain.

And off goes Scipio Jr. and his men to Spain. At night he tells his staff that they are going straight to the capital of Spain, New Carthage. The capital will be sacked. There will be no mercy. The Roman burn New Carthage.

Mago tells his brother that the real war is in Spain now. And Scipio wins victory after victory while Hannibal's troops rot in Rome. Hannibal says he is going to send for Hasdrubal and the three brothers together can make a stand against Rome.

Hannibal hasn't seen his brother for eleven years. Hasdrubal heeds the call and takes his army in Spain and heads for Italy.

The Romans kill a Carthaginian messenger and now Fabius knows that the two armies are going to meet at Umbria. [Umbria is a land-locked region of modern central Italy with its capital at Perugia.] Fabius says they will prepare to welcome him.

A group of Romans on horseback ride very close to Hannibal's camp and throw a sack with something in it near Hannibal. Inside the sack is the head of Hasdrubal. Hannibal screams in pain.

Scipio returns to Rome in triumph. And now Scipio tells the senators that they will take the fight against Hannibal to Africa itself  -- to Carthage itself. When they strike Carthage, the Carthaginians will call Hannibal back to help defend the homeland. "And on African soil, I will defeat him!" The senators give him a rousing ovation.

Council of Elders, Carthage, North Africa. Now Carthage's political leaders are worried about the survival of Carthage itself. Hanno the Great blames all of their problems on Hannibal. And Carthage does not recall Hannibal. This decision proves disastrous for Carthage.

The Romans destroy the Carthaginian forces at the Battle of the Great Plains. Meanwhile, Hannibal spend another year in Rome before he was recalled.

Hannibal has to scrape up an army of new recruits. He also learns that the African allies of Carthage are siding with Rome now against Carthage. The Numidian cavalry of some 4,000 men and horses have joined with the Romans.

Scipio is at Zama. Hannibal tells his surviving brother that he needs to know how many troops do the Romans have and which way are they headed. Mago will get the information for his brother.

Scipio's camp, Zama, North Africa, 202 BC. Two spies walk around the encampment of the Romans. Roman soldiers capture the two Carthaginians.

Hannibal's camp, Zama, North Africa, 202 BC. The two spies return to Hannibal. They tells him that Scipio himself showed them around the camp. The first thing Scipio showed them was the Numidian cavalry.

Hannibal says he wants to talk with Scipio. A meeting is arranged out in the open on the plains of Zama. Hannibal tells Scipio that there is no need for this fight. Scipio says he is surprised that the great risk taker Hannibal is running from a fight. Scipio says the war must be finished. The two will meet on the battlefield.

The battle was at Zama, 100 miles south of Carthage. [Zama was an ancient town near the northern coast of Africa, in present-day Tunisia.]

At Zama the two armies meet. Hannibal has 50,000 largely untrained troops and Scipio has 30,000 experienced troops. Hannibal sends out 18 elephants and the Romans let them into the line and then the soldiers kill them with their spears. The few elephants who are still alive turn around and scatter the Carthaginian soldiers.

"Hannibal fled. The war was over. Rome had won."

Nineteen years later. Rome has been searching for Hannibal for 19 years. They find him finally in Bithynia, northern Turkey. Hannibal sees them coming and drinks some poison.

Fabius did not live to see Hannibal's defeat.

Mago died at sea before Zama.

Scipio died shortly after Hannibal.


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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