«The silent queen of all that is snowy and pure» (.pdf)
May 29, 2006 1:40 PM   Subscribe

«The silent queen of all that is snowy and pure» (.pdf) I will never forget the first time I saw Giovanni Pastrone’s extraordinary Cabiria... I wasn’t quite prepared for the sheer scope and beauty of this film. And I was completely unprepared for having my sense of film history re-aligned. There are so many elements that we took for granted as American inventions – the long-form historical epic, the moving camera, diffused light. Suddenly, here they were in a picture made two years before Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. -- Martin Scorsese
It was the first film to be over three hours long, the first to use a moving camera, the first to cost 20 times the average cost of a motion picture; Pastrone took several elephants and hundreds of extras to the Alps, in the dead of winter, to film scenes that only lasted a couple of minutes onscreen. He hired an ex-dockworker and turned him into one of the first action movie heroes, Maciste. And, he also created the first international marketing campaign of the history of cinema. The Americans were so impressed that Cabiria became the first film to be ever shown on White House grounds. Last week, at the Cannes Film Festival, a beautiful, painstakingly restored version of this forgotten masterpiece has just been shown to the public.
posted by matteo (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The films that changed Hollywood


DVD here (this is not the restored version, though)
posted by matteo at 1:45 PM on May 29, 2006

It's been all downhill since the talkies came in.

Many thanks.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:51 PM on May 29, 2006

Four-minute Quicktime clip here
posted by matteo at 1:53 PM on May 29, 2006

Great collection of links, matteo. That Archimedes site in the third link is great, and the idea of Maciste, an archetypical character who appeared in different historical eras in different films, is fascinating. (That "marketing campaign" link doesn't work, tho - care to let us know what it was or how to get to it?)
posted by mediareport at 2:02 PM on May 29, 2006

ah, the link must have been MetaFiltered -- it was a massive .jpg of the film's beautiful French poster, taglines and all.
the intertitles had been translated into several languages during the film's shoot -- the more I read about the film (and much of it is in Italian, sorry) the more I am impressed at how modern its marketing campaign was
posted by matteo at 2:06 PM on May 29, 2006

(consider that Pastrone had been the second violin of the Teatro Regio Orchestra, but he was also a certified accountant)
posted by matteo at 2:09 PM on May 29, 2006

Fantastic, thanks.
posted by Rumple at 2:33 PM on May 29, 2006

Cool! (Crosses fingers for Puget Sound area screening)
posted by mwhybark at 2:43 PM on May 29, 2006

Actually, matteo, I get "You don't have permission to access /paghirar/mont.1.jpg on this server." I backed up a bit, searched for "cabiria" and got to the image from this page. (Works on preview; let's see if it works on post).
posted by mediareport at 3:04 PM on May 29, 2006

Silent Films - Are They Worth the Watching?

Yes, and if you watch any film with the sound off and don't get the story, it isn't working.
posted by cenoxo at 4:28 PM on May 29, 2006

I would love to see this. Wish NetFlix would add a branch of "offbeat" films to its library. There really are a lot of great movies out there that have been all but lost.
posted by rougy at 5:42 PM on May 29, 2006

Great post matteo, as usual. Let's not forget though, that it may have been the first use of a moving camera but he didn't invent it. Segundo de Chomon is credited with cinematography (special effects?). Nice to see him finally get a mention at Cannes.
posted by tellurian at 10:49 PM on May 29, 2006

The video in the Segundo de Chomon MeFi thread above is borked & closed, so here is the unborkening: Segundo de Chomon - Les Kiriki (Acrobatas japoneses) 1907
posted by roboto at 12:30 PM on May 30, 2006

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