Last Days of Pompeii in Movies & Books

Woke up this morning thinking about “Last Days of Pompeii,” not the novel so much as my favorite movie version of it, which would be the cheesy but still GREAT (IMHO) 1980’s TV mini series. I did read the novel when I was a teenager, have always been fascinated by disaster and how people cope or didn’t cope, who lived, who died, what they could have done differently…if you could see my dvd shelves, you’d think I had a pretty comprehensive collection of disaster movies, let me tell you! (Or an obsession….)

Here’s what I said about “LDOP” back in October, in the course of writing a blog on gladiators-I-have-been-crazy-about ( the whole post is in my archives if you want to see it):

My next gladiator was a bit more modern-while-portraying -ancient: Duncan Regehr as Lydon in the 1984 TV movie (which evidently was also issued as a mini series at some point). His longing for the blind girl Nydia, matched with her infatuation for someone else, just tore at my romantic heart. I wouldn’t have required the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to realize what I was missing when it came to alpha male Lydon. The scene where Nydia’s trying to find him in the chaos of the falling ash and earthquakes and ends up in his arms gets me every time.

Never mind all the trappings of a 1980’s TV movie around them, Lydon and Nydia have some terrific moments together. When he tells her how he would die in the arena rather than kill the man he believes she loves and we the viewer can see that Nydia finally understands who she really loves and how much, is just totally satisfying. And of course they do get their HEA.  I would have written the subplot about the rich but plebeian Julia (with the dreadful Dad) and aristocratic but poor Clodius with a more HEA but I guess you can’t have too many couples surviving the total destruction of Pompeii. Don’t want to be overly saccharine!

The IDMb lists a total of 9 movies  about Pompeii (plus a bunch of television specials, not all of which relate to Pompeii – such is the wonder of net searches). The earliest was made in 1900!  Here’s the plot description: “Vesuvius erupts and people escape from a room as the ceiling falls.”

Okay, I guess that captures the essence of the disaster if not the sweeping nature of the events or the romance and passion I like to see. Quite a few of the movies listed were made in Italy, no surprise. I’m pretty sure I saw the “Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei” 1959 production at least once on very late night TV as a kid. I remember pondering why the dubbing was so bad. But volcanoes blowing to high heaven is pretty universal in all languages.

It must be about time for a big budget extravaganza movie remake, no? Dante’s Peak, much as I love it, doesn’t count…

My Tales of the Nile series is set 1629 years before Pompeii so I won’t be writing those characters into the disaster. No volcanoes along the Nile either.  Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to think about taking a break from Ancient Egypt and writing a Pompeii specific novel some day. Get it out of my system!

(My next soon-to-be-published novel Wreck of the Nebula Dream ( SF with romantic elements, out in March, details soon) is suggested by the events in a major disaster, but one at sea – the Titanic sinking – not one on land.)

Well, I’ll add the Pompeii thought to my list of ever bubbling plot ideas….although Amazon lists at least 40 historical novels with Pompeii in the title….we each write our own take on the events…starting with the 1834 original by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

One comment on “Last Days of Pompeii in Movies & Books

  1. Pingback: Pompeii movies | Indussupplies

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