Fantômas makes it as the emperor of Crime. First is the robbery at the Royal Palace Hotel. Then he abducts Lord Beltham. As Fantômas' fame increases actor Valgrand creates the rôle of ... See full summary »
An account of the life of Jesus Christ, based on the books of the New Testament: After Jesus' birth is foretold to his parents, he is born in Bethlehem, and is visited by shepherds and wise... See full summary »
EROTIKON surely pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on the screen in 1920: Irene, the bored wife of a distracted entomologist, pursues a womanizing aviator, but she may actually be... See full summary »
Louis Feuillade's 5 1/2-hour epic follows FantÃ'mas, the criminal lord of Paris, master of disguise, the creeping assassin in black, as he is pursued by the equally resourceful Inspector Juve and journalist JerÃ'me Fandor.
In the brief introduction preceding the copy I have acquired of this seminal Italian 'kolossal', the hyperbolic epithets of "classic" and "masterpiece" are freely bandied about; while I would not go so far as to use those very words myself in connection with this particular Silent film version of QUO VADIS? (itself the second of 6 film adaptations over the course of a century!), I would gladly agree to call it a milestone for Italian cinema in general, for the epic genre specifically and, most importantly, for the art of the feature film worldwide. Although MGM's opulent 1951 Technicolor version is easily the most popular of the lot, it is quite remarkable how the actors portraying Roman Consul Marcus Vinicius, Senator Petronius and Emperor Nero here resembled the ones in Mervyn Le Roy's remake namely Robert Taylor, Leo Genn and Peter Ustinov respectively! Conversely, while Patricia Laffan's sensuous Poppea left an indelible mark in the later Hollywood epic, the frumpy actress playing her in the version under review is anything but memorable. The Greek slave who turns Vinicius' head (and life upside down), then, is portrayed by an actress who, it seemed to me, was way too young for the role but, while her giant servant lacked the magnetism of Buddy Baer, acquitted himself reasonably well in the circumstances. The copy I acquired was clearly a battered-but-watchable one of French origin, accompanied by horrendous computer-generated English intertitles replete with spelling mistakes! As usual with early Silent movies, the overtly theatrical mannerisms affected by the actors gives rise to some unintentionally risible moments; the hot-tempered Vinicius, forever on the verge of slapping his inferiors around, is a particular liability in this regard. Still, like any self-respecting epic to which it paved the way, the overall success of QUO VADIS? is ultimately measured by the spectacle (or lack thereof) on display during the several climaxes integrated into the narrative and, incredibly enough for a movie that is almost a century old, I can safely say that this version of QUO VADIS? does not disappoint: Nero's lavish parties, the burning of Rome, gladiatorial combat in the arena, lions feasting on Christian prisoners (apparently, an unlucky extra became an all-too-real meal for the bloodthirsty felines but, mercifully, the footage does not seem to have been incorporated into the finished film!) and, last but not least, Jesus Christ's apparition to St. Peter on the Appian Way (which meeting, of course, spawned the novel and film's very title).
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