Quo Vadis (1951)

Theatrical Release: June 15, 1991
DVD Release: June 15, 1991
Quo Vadis (1951)


The film tells the story of a Roman military commander, Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor), who is also the legate of the XIV Gemina, returning from the wars, who falls in love with a devout Christian, Lygia (Deborah Kerr), and slowly becomes intrigued by her religion. Their love story is told against the broader historical background of early Christianity and its persecution by Nero (Peter Ustinov). Though she grew up Roman as the adopted daughter of a retired general, Aulus Plautius (Felix Aylmer), Lygia is technically a hostage of Rome. Marcus persuades Nero to give her to him for services rendered. Lygia resents this, but still falls in love with Marcus.

Meanwhile, Nero’s atrocities become increasingly more outrageous and his acts more insane. When he burns Rome and blames the Christians, Marcus goes off to save Lygia and her family. Nero captures them and all the Christians, and condemns them to be killed in the arena. However, Marcus’ uncle, Petronius (Leo Genn), Nero’s most trusted advisor, warns that the Christians will be made martyrs and, tired of Nero’s insanity and suspecting that he might become a victim of his antics too, commits suicide by cutting his veins, sending Nero a farewell letter in which he finally communicates his derisive opinions he had never been able to tell the emperor in fear of his own life.

Marcus is arrested for trying to save Lygia. In prison, the Apostle, Peter (Finlay Currie), who has also been arrested after returning to Rome upon a sign of the Lord, marries the couple.

Dove Review

Quo Vadis is an epic film focusing on Rome during the early days of the Christian faith. The story centers around two fictional characters Markus Vinicius, a Roman commander (Robert Taylor) and Lygia a Christian girl who falls in love with him in spite of the fact that he is loyal to Nero and sees Christians as a threat to the Empire.

Over time, circumstances teach Marcus that Nero is mentally unstable. He hears the words of Apostle Peter who preaches love and forgiveness instead of war and hatred. Eventually, Marcus begins to understand Lygia’s beliefs and protects her and her fellow Christians at the risk of his own life.

All of this happens during the time Nero orders Rome to be burned. When the citizens rise up against him, he blames the Christians and arranges for them to be tortured by lions in the Roman Colosseum. /p> This movie is a clear demonstration of the early church and the challenges Believers faced.

Content Description

Sex: Kissing; embracing
Language: "Christ, give me strength!" prayerfully; some disrespectful references to Christ and God by heathen Romans, but not blasphemous
Violence: Bodies dragged by lions (no blood); bodies burning at the stake (not graphic); Rome burning and people getting caught in falling buildings; sword fights; man breaks neck of another and throws his body down a flight of stairs; man wrestles a bull to the ground; couple slit their wrists in joint suicide pact (no blood shown); woman stabs man in heart (no blood); Apostle Peter shown up-side-down on a cross (no blood)
Drugs: Wine; some drunkenness
Nudity: Scantily dressed women dancers; barechested men
Other: Transformation of many who worshiped heathen gods into Christ-followers


Company: MGM/UA Home Video
Writer: John Lee Mahin (screen play), S.N. Behrman
Producer: Sam Zimbalist
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 171 min.
Industry Rating: Not Rated
Reviewer: Dick Rolfe