The Civil Rights Movement And Mccarthyism

1862 Words8 Pages
The Roman epic film genre was extremely popular in the 50s and 60s for its spectacle and relevance to the contemporary social and political atmosphere. During this time period, WWII created a growing uneasiness and hatred for “evil” dictatorships; simultaneously, Christianity was becoming more important to establish the superiority of the United States. Then, at the forefront of American politics was the Civil Rights movement and McCarthyism, which prompted Americans to live up to the Christian religion they adopted. Generally, Christians and Christianity in the Roman epic films of the 50s and 60s were utilized to characterize protagonists opposing tyrannical Roman antagonists; the role of Christians and the polarity in the films becomes less explicit to fit historical accuracy and changing contemporary politics. This essay will analyze the general role of Christians and their gradually subdued explicit presence through time in the movies, Quo Vadis (Zimbalist 1951), Ben-Hur (Zimbalist 1959), Spartacus (Douglas 1960), and The Fall of the Roman Empire (Bronston 1964). Quo Vadis has a plot dependent on the plight of innocent, peaceful Christians against the evil tyranny of the “antichrist,” Nero, which is revealed in the opening narration (Zimbalist 1951). There is an obvious polarization between the Roman elite, especially Emperor Nero, and the Christians. Nero’s massacre of the Christians would resonate clearly with American audiences at the time as a parallel to the
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