Chapter

The Claudius Trap

John Baxter

in Von Sternberg

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780813126012
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135601 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5810/kentucky/9780813126012.003.0027
The Claudius Trap

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The story and character of Claudius immediately appealed. An aging cripple who became emperor by outwitting his contemptuous family and subjects was a character of Shakespearean stature, and his near destruction by his nymphomaniac child-wife Messalina gave the story added spice. But von Sternberg had a larger vision. His plan was not only to bring to life an old empire, but to hold it up as a mirror to our own tottering values, and to investigate the diseased roots of excessive ambition. Von Sternberg may have been thinking of his own “excessive ambition.” In the latter case, the film offered rich material for his favorite pastime: getting his own back.

Keywords: Claudius; emperor; stature; empire; ambition

Chapter.  5516 words. 

Subjects: Film

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