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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 »
An Engrossing Historical Melodrama With All The Trimmings
An engrossing historical melodrama with all the trimmings, "Cabiria" would be rather impressive if it had been made in the mid- or late- 1920's, and the fact that it was made in 1914 is astounding. While it was widely known in its time, and apparently was once given full credit for its influence on other film-makers, it has been largely forgotten today, for no good reason. The story is involved and ambitious, the settings and scale are lavish and creative, and the historical scenario comes from the fascinating (if today little-known) period of the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. It's all very good in its own right, and it's even more of a success when you consider the new ground they had to break in bringing it all together so well.
The story blends together several fictional and several historical characters, centering on the adventures and misfortunes of the girl Cabiria. As in any melodrama, there are some implausible developments, yet it rarely seems overly forced. The historical setting is used creatively, both to drive the action and to provide interesting settings and characters. While it is clearly fiction, it takes fewer liberties with history than do many other movies with historical settings, since it is designed for entertainment rather than to promote a particular viewpoint.
And as entertainment, it delivers handsomely. This is well worth the trouble to find for anyone who enjoys watching silent movies. It is also worth seeing if you have even a passing interest in the development of cinema, because few movies have ever been so creative in using and improving upon the means available in their own era.
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