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Robert Graves and the Classical Tradition$
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A. G. G. Gibson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198738053

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198738053.001.0001

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Josef von Sternberg and the Cinematizing of I, Claudius

Josef von Sternberg and the Cinematizing of I, Claudius

Chapter:
(p.274) (p.275) 14 Josef von Sternberg and the Cinematizing of I, Claudius
Source:
Robert Graves and the Classical Tradition
Author(s):

A. G. G. Gibson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198738053.003.0015

The chapter examines aspects of the 1937 stillborn film version of I, Claudius, directed by Josef von Sternberg. The difficult production of the screenplay is considered, alongside the battle for control of the final screen version of I, Claudius between von Sternberg, Graves, Charles Laughton, and Alexander Korda. The complex sexual relationships, in the fictional world and the contemporary, are explored, as well as how the model of the nineteenth-century Bildungsroman was incorporated into the screenplay. The history of the challenges encountered bringing I, Claudius to life are included for comparison; on screen in 1958 the near-miss with Alec Guinness and Anna Magnani, and the more successful 1972 stage play directed by Tony Richardson. In conclusion, the productions reflect the times, and the Claudius of 1937 reflected the milieu of the inter-war years and the pain of the survivors of the Great War.

Keywords:   Alexander Korda, Josef von Sternberg, Charles Laughton, cinema, Somerset Maugham, adaptation, screenplay, Claudius

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