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Well respected Pompeiian Glaucus performs an act of kindness by buying Nidia, a blind slave being mistreated by her owner. Nidia falls in love with her new master, but he only has eyes for Jone. Jone in turn is lusted after by Arbace, an Egyptian high priest of Isis. When Nidia beseeches Isis for help in capturing Glaucus' heart, Arbace gives her a "love" potion, which really will affect his mind and not his heart, thus opening the way to Jone for himself. When Arbace's disciple is murdered Glaucus finds himself in hot water, shortly after which Mt. Vesuvius erupts. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
I love silent films. Not just the later polished ones of the 1920s, but even the early and very early ones. So, because I have seen any where from 1000-2000 silents, I can see the context for films like "The Last Days of Pompeii". And so, while some might say 'wow--that movie was boring', I actually marvel at what a HUGE accomplishment the film was when it debuted. You see, lengthy films like this one were pretty much unheard of and a long film might be 15-20 minutes long (like "The Great Train Robbery" or "The Voyage To The Moon"). So, at almost an hour and a half in length, this WAS a radical departure for films. I have seen documentaries that have proclaimed that "Birth of a Nation" was THE first full-length film, but "The Last Days of Pompeii" debuted two years earlier. As for the sets, while the backgrounds were often giant paintings, often they were not and the realism was great for 1913. There were real live lions and a nice crowd scene. The costuming was also GENERALLY good for its time, but what's with including all these ridiculously attired Egyptians in Italy?! It's as if someone said "We're running short on costumes--quick, dress some of the extras up as Egyptians!". Another problem with the film is that plot. While the story of the blind girl and the lovers is mildly interesting--it's only mildly interesting. The narrative isn't enthralling, though the sad ending was...well...sad.
Rating this film is tough. When seen today, its deficiencies are obvious. But, in 1913, it created quite a stir--and rightfully so. There also is the historical importance of the film to think about...so coming up with a numerical score is problematic. I'd give it an 8 simply because of its originality and scope.
By the way, if you are looking to see the best film about Pompeii, see the made for TV movie "Pompeii: The Last Day" (2003). It's simply outstanding in every way and quite touching as it dramatizes (in a very realistic way) the final moments of some of the volcano's victims.
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