La vendetta dei barbari (Revenge of the Barbarians) (1960)
Director: Giuseppe Vari.
Starring: Daniela Rocca (Galla Placidia, Onorius' Sister), Anthony Steel (Olympius, Consul of Rome), Robert Alda (Ataulf), José Greci (Sabina), Mario Scaccia (Onorius, Emperor of the West), Evi Marandi (Ameria, Slave Girl), Arturo Dominici (Antemius), Cesare Fantoni (Alaric, King of the Visigoths).
the Visigoth's sack of Rome, 410
Alaric I was the King of the Visigoths from 395–410.
"He fought as an ally at the side of the Roman Legions. Aleric, King of the Visigoths, invaded Italy with his barbarians leaving death and destruction behind them. But every time Alaric faced the Roman armies as led by Stilicho, the chief known as the magister militum (Master of the Soldiers) of the Empire, Alaric was defeated, but he would not give up. Every defeat only aroused in the barbarians fiercer anger and hatred against Rome."
Ravenna. 408. Antemius comes in to speak to the Roman Emperor Onorius. He says that justice has finally been done. Stilicho has finally his head cut off. And now they have gotten rid of the Empire's arch traitor. The man was a Vandal and promised to open the gates of Rome at the first sign of the barbarians.
The Emperor's sister, Galla Placidia, is upset at the death of Stilicho. She says counselors are not "faithful" counselors. They are only here to agree with the Emperor. And she wants to know if the barbarians attack Rome, who will lead the Roman troops to defeat them? The Emperor says that the barbarians will not attack Rome again, because they know such an attack will only fail. The counselors quickly agree with the Emperor. They say that Ataulf and Alaric will never attack them again.
Alaric is told that there is a group of Roman soldiers nearby. Alaric tells Ataulf to attack with the cavalry and destroy the Romans. The barbarian cavalry descends upon the Roman encampment. The barbarians defeat the Romans.
A messenger tells Emperor Onorius that it is no longer possible to doubt the intentions of Alaric. He wants to defeat Rome and impose his own conditions on the Empire. Now the Emperor regrets losing Stilicho. Antemius suggests that they make Olympius, Counsul of Rome, the head of the Roman armies. The Emperor likes that idea. Galla, however, raises an objection. Although Olympius is great in battle as a soldier, this does not mean that Olympius can be the head of the Roman armies.
The Emperor says he will excuse himself to go ponder on who should be the commander-in-chief. Onorius brings up the name of Marcus Tullius. Galla comes in and tells her brother to stop talking to his pet rooster as if the animal could be a counselor. She too has doubts about all the candidates mentioned by Onorius to his rooster. Then she says she thinks she has a strategy to deal with these barbarians. Onorius is all ears.
Galla talks to Olympius about her plan. She likes the plan and says that Galla should get all the credit. She says she will provide the brains and he will provide the brawn.
Galla is a bit thirsty and calls for her servant Sabina. When Sabina in not available at once, Galla gets angry with her. When Sabina shows up Galla suggests that perhaps Sabina should get another thrashing.
At the Visigoth's camp, some barbarians from a raid bring back some pretty women to the encampment. Incognito, Galla comes to speak with Alaric and Ataulf. She thinks Ataulf is his brother, but Alaric says the man is his cousin, not his brother. Alaric now asks Galla's name and what he can do for her? She says her name is Alena and she has come to dance and sing for the troops. Alaric grants her wish and gives the order to allow the women and their wagons to come within the encampment.
When Galla dances, Atauf is very taken with her and he wants to be with her this very night. His girlfriend begs him not to go, but he goes and grabs Galla. He takes her to his tent. In the morning Galla awakens and sneaks out of Ataulf's bed. She picks up a knife to kill him, but changes her mind. She leaves the tent. Outside she sees the girlfriend still waiting for Ataulf. Everybody is still sleeping. As she walks to her carts, she gives the signal to release the soldiers in hiding in the trunks in the carts. A Roman archer kills two of the guards in the towers. Ataulf's girlfriend hears some of the noises and awakens. She gets up to check on things.
She sees what the Romans are doing, including their opening the gate to the front entrance to the palisade fort. She starts yelling for the barbarian soldiers to get up. The Roman cavalry starts pouring in through the gate. After the battle the girlfriend Amelia tells the men that it was the dancer Alena who betrayed the Visigoths. The dancer's real name is Galla Placidia. Amelia then says that such treachery calls for revenge on the Romans.
Onorius wants the Roman armies to go after the remnants of the Visigoths and wipe them out once and for all. Olympius objects saying that the Roman armies are not as united as they once were. And many of the barbarians and their families are leaving Rome because of the increasing cry to kill all the barbarians in Rome. And these fleeing barbarian warriors will most likely go over to Alaric and the Visigoths. Galla blames the flight of the barbarians from Rome on Antemius. Antemius says he cannot agree with Galla's pessimistic view of the situation. He now offers himself as the commander-in-chief to finish off the barbarians. The weak Onorius agrees with Antemius, but Galla does not give her approval, so Onorius says he will ponder some more over the situation.
Antemius now tries to woo Galla so she won't oppose his ideas and plans of becoming the commander-in-chief.
Galla tells her female servant that she is not moved by the gifts and epigrams from Antemius, but she wants to pretend that she might be moved by Antemius.
Antemius confronts Galla and tells her that he knows she has been just toying with him and leading him on. He gets so angry that Olympius jumps out from behind the curtain and warns Antemius not to forget that Galla is the Emperor's sister. Antemius says that now he knows where Galla's cavalier attitude toward him came from. She has already been spoken for by Olympius. He leaves. Galla scolds Olympius for having interfered. She says she doesn't want anyone to know about her relationship with Olympius for the information can be used against her. Galla figures that Antemius will use the information against her.
Now Galla calls for Sabina. She wants to know why didn't Sabina keep Olympius from leaving her rooms. She slashes at Sabina with a cord and Sabina goes to the floor. Then Galla strikes her four more times. Olympius asks Galla was that necessary? She answers that she does it once in a while because she likes to do it. Wouldn't Olympius like it too? Olympius says no he would not. Galla kisses Olympius and soon they are hugging and kissing each other. Sabina is a bit jealous of the display of affection.
Galla asks Sabina to forgive her for losing her temper. It's just that she lost her temper when Antemius found out about her relationship with Olympius. Sabina willingly forgives Galla. She says she would do anything for Galla. She would defend her even with her life. Galla asks her if that's true? Yes. Galla says Sabina may one day soon get a chance to prove her devotion to Galla.
Father Theopolis tells the Emperor that he must send Galla into exile. It's his duty as a Christian. Marco Antonius says the people are wounded by the gravity of the scandal Galla has created. Antemius says exile is not enough for the people. Galla must be executed. So the weak Onorius declares that his sister will be executed to protect the Empire.
Galla scolds the Emperor for believing such gossip about her. She says that Olympius comes to see not her, but the beautiful Sabina. Galla calls for Sabina and the young woman back's Galla's story and agrees that she is to blame for the scandal. Galla shows a welt she gave Sabina from beating her with a cord. The Emperor believes the two women and Galla is out of trouble, at least for now.
Onorius tells his counselors what he found out about Galla. Antemius suggests that they put Galla to a test. Arrange a marriage between Sabina and Olympius. If Galla loves Olymius, then she will interfere in the marriage or she will find a way to work around it. Father Theopolis doesn't like the idea because he says marriage is a sacrament and should not be toyed with. A messenger bursts in with important news. Alaric has gathered all the former Roman barbarian soldiers and now he is going to attack Ravenna. The Emperor is upset and says: "Oh, now I order that they all be destroyed, so they won't bother me anymore." The messenger leaves. Now Onorius says he will order the marriage to take place.
A marriage is taking place between Olympius and Sabina. The priest declares them man and wife. Galla says they won't have long to enjoy themselves for Olympius will now take command of the Roman army and will fight the barbarian Alaric.
Olympius tells the Emperor that he cannot openly fight against Alaric's forces, because they outnumber the Romans by 5 to 1. To do so would risk losing the entire imperial army. Onorius asks for suggestions of what to do. Antemius says they can closes the gates to Ravenna and they will be able to fend off any attack from the barbarians. Galla says the people of Ravenna will starve under a barbarian siege. She says they must send an ambassador to Byzantium asking their brother Arcadius to send ten legions at once to help them. In the meantime, they all will leave for Rome. When Alaric reaches Ravenna he will discover the move and turn to face Rome. By the time he gets to Rome the Byzantine legions will have arrived.
Galla orders Sabina to stay behind in Ravenna, while she and the army goes to Rome.
Alaric is informed of the movement of the 14th Legion out of Ravenna headed to Rome. Alaric decides to stop just outside of Rome, wait and then assess if they should attack Rome.
Alaric arrives before Rome and decides to besiege the city. Ataulf wants to assault the city right now, for their soldiers are dying to attack Rome. Alaric tells Ataulf to be patient. He has named Atilus the Emperor of the West and he will throw the gates of Rome open to the barbarians before he dares to claim the throne of Onorius. Ataulf protests that the move to Rome with just one legion is a ruse. The real strength of Rome remains at Ravenna. They should take Rome and then go on to Ravenna. Alaric says he will speak with all the chieftains about the decision.
An angered Galla speaks with Attilus and asks him how dare he call himself the Emperor of the West? Attilus says he knows exactly how to deal with those "beasts". Let the barbarians think they are dividing their enemy by internal political battles over who shall be the Emperor of the West. This will delay any barbarian attack and give the West time that they desperately need.
Now a messenger tells Galla that Arcadius will send the legions to Rome, but it will take two months to prepare the army for the long journey there. Galla goes over to Attilus and tells him that the Byzantine forces are now disembarking on the Adriatic coast. Attilus says then they have nothing to worry about. Galla says that's right.
Alaric holds his meeting with Ataulf and the chieftains, but the chieftains align themselves with Ataulf and his plans to attack Rome now. Alaric rejects the idea of attacking Rome now. Ataulf protests, but to no avail. Alaric insists that they wait for Attilus to open the city gates to them.
Ataulf decides to lead a raid into Rome to capture Galla. He has behind him a small group of chieftains who will supply the men for the raid. With Galla under their control, they figure Onorius will have to sign a peace treaty with the Visigoths.
Ataulf''s girlfriend, Clamaria, has listened to these plans. When she is alone with Ataulf, she accuses him of wanting to kidnap Galla not because of military reasons, but to fulfill his desires for the Roman woman. She says she wants to strangle Ataulf. Ataulf says that his woman is talking nonsense. Clamaria doesn't believe Ataulf and she says she will go to Alaric with his plans of kidnapping Galla. Ataulf throws his girlfriend on the bed and starts beating her with a cord. She seems to take some enjoyment out of the thrashing. Ataulf senses she's sexually aroused and he pounces on her and starts kissing her.
Ataulf now ties Clamaria down to the bed and puts a gag around her mouth. Now he goes on his raid into Rome.
Ataulf and his men are now inside Rome. They hide as a group of Roman soldiers marches right by them. They then attack two guards and kill them. That gets them closer to Galla, but now they have to fight off quite a number of Roman guards. Galla hears all the commotion and goes to find out what's happening. She stops and stares at the action going on in front of her.
There are too many Roman guards for Ataulf and his raiding party, so they decide to retreat. Galla comes over to Olympius to thank him for saving her life. Then she notices that he has been wounded on his left arm and is bleeding. She wants to nurse him, but he says he has to go warn the garrison about the raid. Galla asks Olympius why does he act so coldly to her now. What has changed him? His eyes used to light up whenever he saw her. Olympius denies that anything has changed him, so Galla gets him to come with her so she can care for him.
Clamaria gets free and tells Alaric of Ataulf''s plans. Ataulf arrives back at camp. He tells Alaric that he didn't capture Galla because he had too few men with him. And he insists that they can still take Rome. For some reason, Alaric says if that's what Ataulf wants to do, then they will do it. Ataulf is now ecstatic about the upcoming assault.
Galla is angry because Olympius stayed long enough to be bandaged up. She calls in Sabina and scolds her for betraying her wishes that the marriage be in name only. Galla becomes so angry, that she tells Sabina to get out of her sight.
Galla now backs Attilus as the emperor, until Onorius returns and claims his throne. And she wants Attilus to make Olympius the captain of the guard in charge of protecting Galla from any personal harm. Attilus agrees to carry out her order.
The barbarians attack and get into the city of Rome. They overpower the Roman resistance. Ataulf gets into the rooms of Galla. A barbarian grabs Galla and Ataulf tells the man to take Galla to his tent and keep her there. He will hold the soldier personally responsible for watching over Galla and keeping her safe. Galla and her female servants are all taken away by the barbarians.
The city of Rome is burning tonight. The barbarians are enjoying their female captives.
Onorius learns that the barbarians have taken Rome. The news really frightens the Emperor. Now Onorius makes Antemius the new head of the troops of the Western Roman Empire. The Emperor announces that tomorrow they will attack the barbarians in Rome and destroy them all.
The Roman legions are on the march to Rome. Alaric tells Ataulf that their victory came too easily. He believes that this is all a trick by the Romans and he wants to move his troops south away from Rome. He orders all his troops out of Rome.
Olympius is informed that his soldiers looked all over Rome for Galla and her female staff, but they could find no trace of them. The person Olympius wants found foremost is Sabina. He is really upset not to be able to find her. He says he will ask the Emperor for free reign and will kill every last Visigoth in the area.
Onorius is going to send his army under Antemius to fight the barbarians on the coast of Calabria who intend to plunder Africa, the granary of the Roman Empire. Olympius will stay here in command of the Imperial Guard. And if they cannot get Galla back, then the Emperor will have Olympius' head.
Alaric tells his staff that Onorius has rejected all his proposals and is having the whole Roman army on a forced march down south to defeat the Visigoths. A storm sank all of their ships, so the Visigoths must prepare to withstand the oncoming Roman attack. Furthermore, Alaric is going to have all their women hostages executed at dawn and that includes Galla. Ataulf wants to save Galla, so he asks her to marry him and that way he can save her and have her as his own. Galla refuses to marry him.
The next day King Alaric is dead. No one is quite sure how the King died. Ataulf is now the King of the Visigoths. And his first order is to cancel the execution of the Roman women. This makes Clamaria very angry.
Olympius goes to the barbarian encampment. He kills several guards but is himself captured. He is taken to see Ataulf who strikes Olympius several times with his whip. Then he orders that Galla be brought out to see the captured Olympius. Galla is brought out and Ataulf is about to kill Olympius when Galla asks that Ataulf give Olympius a chance to prove his courage by winning a challenge. If he does not win the challenge, then they can execute Olympius. Ataulf says Olympius will fight their soldier Suzann. The Visigoth warrior is a giant of a man, but Olympius wins by gouging the giant's eyes. When the giant lunges for him blindly he impales himself on a blade sticking out of the fence.
Now Olympius challenges Ataulf to a fight. Ataulf accepts the challenge and the fight is on. Olympius wins and he chooses Sabina to take away. The couple are permitted to leave.
At night Ataulf visits with Galla. He says he will destroy Rome and then build it up even better than it ever was before. Galla now asks if Ataulf will still marry her. He says yes immediately. She wants to be made an Empress of Rome and Ataulf can settle his people on a good piece of land. They hug and kiss.
Onorius is about to order the beheading of Olympius and his wife, when a barbarian messenger drops a message off for the Emperor. It's a letter from Galla. She says that she has decided to marry Ataulf and she and her husband will settle on land in Gaul. Onorius is happy at the news now that a terrific weight has been lifted from his shoulders. Olympius and Sabina are also very relieved.
Action filled adventure centering around the Visigoth sacking of Rome, along with two love stories. The movie is interesting to watch and you do learn a bit of history even if a lot of it is wrong, but that's what the Historical Background section is there to correct.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
391 -- Alaric as the leader of a mixed band of Goths and allied peoples invades Thrace. They are stopped by the half-Vandal Roman General Stilicho.
Later Alaric joins the Roman army. He is taught by the Gothic soldier Gainas.
394 -- Alaric leads a Gothic force of 20,000 that helps the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius defeat the Frankish usurper Arbogast at the Battle of Frigidus. Receiving no praise from the Emperor, he leaves the Roman army.
395 -- he is elected reiks of the Visigoths. He marches toward Constantinople, but Roman forces divert him away.
So Alaric goes into Greece. He sacks Piraeus (the port of Athens), destroys Corinth, Megara, Argos and Sparta and then Eastern Emperor Flavius Arcadius appoints him magister militum (“master of the soldiers”) in Illyricum.
401 -- Alaric invades Italy.
402 -- Stilicho defeats Alaric at Pollentia.
402 -- on a second Italian invasion, Stilicho defeats Alaric again, this time at the battle of Verona. Alaric withdraws from Italy.
408 -- Western Emperor Flavius Honorius orders the execution of Stilicho and his family for reportedly having made a deal with Alaric. Honorius then gets the Romans to massacre tens of thousands of wives and children of Goths serving in the Roman military. As a consequence, 30,000 Gothic soldiers defect to Alaric. They join him on his march on Rome to avenge their murdered families. Alaric lays siege to Rome and gets the Senate to grant him a lot of money and gains the freedom for the Gothic prisoners in Rome.
409 -- Alaric and his Visigoths again surround Rome. Alaric lifts the siege when the Romans make Attalus the Western Emperor.
410 -- Alaric deposes Attalus and besieges Rome for the third time. Allies within the capital open the Rome gates and for three days his troops sack the city. Nevertheless, the Visigoths treat the Romans humanely and burn down only a few of their buildings.
Alaric plans an invasion of Sicily and North Africa, but a bad storm destroys his fleet.
410 --Alaric dies as the Visigoths move northward.
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