The entry begins:
Casting a film about a historical figure obviously presents difficulties. As a historian, I admittedly have a tendency to look to the past for models—admirable things to take as examples and awful things to avoid, to paraphrase the Roman historian Livy. As a lover of older films, I tend to prefer previous generations of actors to the present field. Therefore I will indulge myself in casting Pericles and the Conquest of History using actors from the past.Learn more about Pericles and the Conquest of History at the Cambridge University Press website.
The man himself must be someone with a compelling voice and imposing demeanor: the Athenians called Pericles “the Olympian.” He must be a convincing military leader and statesman, someone able both to inspire and to upbraid an audience, to lead a people to war and convince them to keep fighting despite significant losses and a plague ravaging their city. I would immediately chose Alec Guinness if he had just a touch more vocal power—the timbre of Gregory Peck or the resonance of Richard Burton. Guinness has the right look, though, and he did a passable job with Marcus Aurelius in the absolutely atrocious The Fall of the Roman Empire. So let’s go with Guinness and hope that the director (let’s choose David Lean, since we’re using Guinness!) can bring out the gravity the vocal performance requires. I have no doubt that Guinness could convey the...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Pericles and the Conquest of History.
My Book, The Movie: Pericles and the Conquest of History.