Above is how the Roman Forum might look at night today if it had never degenerated into ruins since the empire, or if it had been reconstructed as it was at the apogee of its ancient fame. The work, by Gilbert Gorski, was given to Léon Krier as consolation for the rejection, by Gorski’s publisher, of Krier’s introduction to The Roman Forum: A Reconstruction and Architectural Guide, by Gorski and James Packer. (Krier’s essay was posted in its entirety in “Krier: Ruins and discontents.”)
The inspiration for Gorski’s rendering comes from the last line of Krier’s introduction: “To ensure maximum effect, I recommend the reader to imagine the figurants sporting contemporary clothing and steering modern vehicles.”
Clayton Fulkerson, a builder of classical models who lives in Warwick, Rhode Island, and who tends to object to the reconstruction of ruins unless they are substantially intact already, sent me the following description and photos of Cinecittá, a series of movie sets for films set in ancient Rome:
Cinecittá is a huge studio complex on the outskirts of Rome. It was conceived as part of Mussolini’s plan to revive the Italian economy. Films such as Ben Hur (the good one), Cleopatra and, more recently, Gangs of New York and the Rome series by HBO were shot there. Virtually all of Fellini’s and Zeffirelli’s films were also..The tour took us to only part of the vast Rome set. HBO spared no expense and had to abort the series because of its huge cost. No stone was used in the set’s construction. It’s all a fantastic fiberglass façade mounted on steel framing. You would swear it’s all the real deal, as the Italians are devilishly good at this kind of thing. The “stones” paving the streets are cast from concrete using only five molds. The pieces are arranged in such a way that you’d never know the economies involved. When production ceases, the sets become the property of the studio, which has the right to rent them to other production companies.