WHAT ARE HOLLYWOOD PEPLUM FILMS?

Also called sword-and-sandal films, peplums were mostly set in the Greco-Roman period, which was a very limiting circumstance for the artistic freedom of the director, who was forced to accept impositions regarding costumes and setting in general. In Hollywood, however, there were always directors with a strong personality who refused to compromise with this sort of impositions. This is the case, for example, of the director of “The Gallic War”, Chuck Browlyn, who wanted to equip the Roman legionaries with camouflage uniforms and semi-automatic rifles. The Gauls were to be mercilessly machine-gunned by Roman paratroopers poured down from the sky. The screenwriters insisted that Browlyn must abide by historical reality. Irving Thalberg attempted to mediate between both sides and in the end a compromise solution was reached: the Roman legionaries would go back to the swords and the sandals, but Julius Caesar could dress as Browlyn wished: that is to say, with a charro suit, a poncho and a large Mexican hat. He could also continually shake himself while playing the maracas.

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