Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cabiria - 1914

Cabiria (1914) is a silent movie from the early years of Italy's movie industry, directed by Giovanni Pastrone. Apart from being a classic on its own the film is also notable for being the first film in which the long-running film character Maciste makes his debut. Director: Giovanni Pastrone
Writers: Gabriele D'Annunzio (titles), Titus Livus (book)
Stars: Italia Almirante-Manzini, Lidia Quaranta and Bartolomeo Pagano
Cabiria is a classic silent movie from the early years of Italy's movie industry, directed by Giovanni Pastrone. It was released in 1914.
The movie is based on Emilio Salgari's Cartagine in fiamme (Carthage in Flames) and Gustave Flaubert's exotic novel Salammbo. Set in ancient Carthage during the period of the Second Punic War, it treats the conflict between Rome and Carthage through the eyes of Cabiria, the title character, who is kidnapped by pirates, sold as a slave in Carthage, and rescued from being sacrificed to the god Moloch by a Roman nobleman and his muscular slave Maciste (who would later become the protagonist in a whole seuccesful series of films on his own). Hannibal and his elephants fit into the convoluted plot of this epic film.
Italian author Gabriele d'Annunzio contributed to the screenplay and wrote all of the intertitles. The movie was inventive and innovative in its cinematography for the time, and was a major influence on Birth of a Nation by D. W. Griffith, although film critic Roger Ebert said Griffith "moves the camera with greater freedom and has a headlong narrative and an exciting use of cross-cutting that Pastrone does not approach." [1] The film also marked the debut of the Maciste character, who went on to have a long career in Italian sword and sandal films.
A restored version of the film screened on 27 May, 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival, featuring a filmed introduction by director Martin Scorsese.
Like Birth of a Nation Cabiria has aroused its share of controversy because of the political nature of its subject matter. It was produced by Italian ultra-nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio and was released soon after the Italo-Turkish War, in which Italy conquered the North African Ottoman provinces of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. The parallels in the film, about Rome conquering an inferior North African Carthage, can be seen as a celebration of Italian imperialism.

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