We are super excited to announce that we sat down recently with Stephen Guerra, the host of the History of the Papacy Podcast to talk all about the classic 1951 sword-and-sandals film Quo Vadis.
This is a three way conversation with a variety of perspectives to enjoy. Stephen offers insights into the representation of Christianity. Dr Rad offers an intimate understanding of Rome in Hollywood cinema. Dr G has an eye for all things Roman politics.
Where are you going?
Quo Vadis is a Latin phrase which translates as ‘Where are you going?’ and connects with the apocryphal story of Peter fleeing crucifixion in Rome. As he is leaving the city, Jesus appears to Peter in a vision. When Peter asks Quo vadis, Jesus confirms he is heading to Rome to be crucified again. The title of film alludes to the connections between ancient Rome and emerging Christian ideas.
This film deserves to be described as epic! From the MGM studio and filmed in technicolor, it ambitiously seeks to combine Roman history under the rule of Nero with a narrative of early Christianity. Although famous now for Peter Ustinov’s engaging performance as the emperor Nero, he was not the big ticket actor drawing audiences when the film was initially released. Bona fide Hollywood star Robert Taylor plays the lead role as the Roman soldier Marcus Vinicius and Deborah Kerr plays Lygia, the central Christian of this story.
Where are we going?
Join us as we explore Quo Vadis from a variety of perspectives and consider things like:
- The origins of the film in Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novel
- The challenges of bringing this story to the silver screen
- Just how epic this film was in terms of sets and design
- Roman history on screen and how it shapes understanding
- Interpretations of the Christian-Roman conflict and conversion narrative
- The reception of the film through time
We send a huge thank you to Stephen for having us as guests on his show and for the editing and post-production work on this episode. This is also a first for us in the sense that Dr Rad and Dr G were also in different locations for this recording. This episode is a big moment for us talking together but not in the same room. We’re crediting the powers of technology for making this project possible!