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Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to god Moloch, Cabiria is rescued by both Fulvio Axilla, a Roman noble, and his giant slave Maciste. Maciste is captured just after having confided Cabiria to Sophinisbe's safe keeping, while Fulvio Axilla manages to escape from Carthage. Ten years went away with Punic wars before he is able to come back to Carthage... Written by
Celebrity writer Gabriele D'Annunzio was originally hired by Pastrone to write the screenplay. After long delays Pastrone and his assistant went to Paris, where D'Annunzio lived at the time, to excite him into action. More time passed, and the director's patience grew thinner and thinner, and in the end D'Annunzio merely rewrote in poetic prose the titles Pastrone prepared. See more »
The splendid set design back in 1914, which would obviously influence Griffith's Intolerance a few years later, is worth watching. Other than that, as a work in the dawn of film history, Cabiria inevitably suffers several flaws. Comprising exclusively medium and long shots (with absolutely no close-ups), the film should have relied on engaging storytelling, but it just progresses tediously. As a title role, Cabiria should have appeared on the screen more, but she serves as a catalyst and stays behind the scene for most time.
Versatile solo piano on the soundtrack (which is, according to the credit of "1990 alternate version" I watched, "Piano Score recorded by Jacques Ganthier, based on the original 1914 score," which I assume is composed by Manlio Mazza) imitates Classical composers in various eras, from Bach to Beethoven to Schumann to Brahms to Debussy, and is quite enjoyable by itself.
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