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On the set of HBO’s “Rome”

Posted by on Thursday, May 2, 2013 in General Information, Study Abroad.

As a special last field trip of the semester, today I had the chance to visit the Cinecitta Studios which houses the set of the HBO series “Rome.”  Other movies that have parts of their set there include “Gangs of New York,” “The Life Aquatic,”  and even for a naval battle scene of “Ben-Hur.”  Needless to say, the studio lot was impressive with many large warehouse buildings, a whole complex of different large-scale sets, and even museums dedicated to Cinecitta’s history and the history of film-making all together.  Honestly, it was a bit like going to Universal Studios, just without the rollercoasters.  Here are a few pictures from the sets:

Entrance to Cinecitta Studios

Facades of a fake town movie set. Parts of "Gangs of New York" were filmed on this street.
Film equipment used throughout Cinecitta Studio's history

So that stuff was cool, but that’s not what we were really there for.  We were there to see ROME!  And Rome we saw.  The set designers created an open area surrounded on all sides by replica Roman temples and famous buildings that set the scene for the series, which takes place in the 1st century BC.  We got a guided tour of the set, luckily in English, and were shown how everything sounds hollow when you knock on it, since its all made of plastic or plaster.  There were also some historical innaccuracies on the set, which you better believe a group of Classicists picked up on right away.  One major one is their version of the Pantheon, one of ROme’s most famous monuments.  Not only is the inscription wrong, but it also wasn’t built until over a century after the storyline of the HBO series takes place.  Our guide described this as a way to set the scene better for an American audience that probably wouldn’t know the difference.  (Hollywood at it again!)  Anyway, here are some cool pics from the Rome set.

A view of the set's version of the Forum Romanum and Basilica Aemelia
Centristi at the fake Pantheon, practicing giving speeches
A nice example of the fake facades on the set

Some big pictures in this post, but they hopefully convey how cool this set was to get to tour around.  For any fan of Rome (the show or the city) or film in general, Cinecitta is a fabulous place to visit to really get up close and personal with famous movie sets. I mean, they actually encourage you to touch all of the props and set pieces, where else do you get to do that?

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