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Von Sternberg$
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John Baxter

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813126012

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813126012.001.0001

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The Claudius Trap

The Claudius Trap

(p.205) The Claudius Trap
Von Sternberg

John Baxter

University Press of Kentucky

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

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