(1911)

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Early Italian Historical Epics
Herr Enrico Guazzoni was the master of the early Italian historical epics which had developed from detailed but short vignettes of Roman imperial ancient time to big budget kolossal films that inspired directors around the world.

Herr Enrico Guazzoni had a background in painting and decorating and had been trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Rome before becoming a film director. This stood him in good stead as he designed the sets and costumes in some of his films as well as writing the scripts. The elaborate reconstruction of ancient Rome and the authentic details (whether or not the stories are actually true) provided lavish spectacles that excited early audiences and are a true feast for the senses even today.

In "Agrippina" (1910), Herr Guazzoni recreates the particular and troublesome relationship between Frau Agrippina, the second wife of the Emperor Claudius, and her son Nero. Such family troubles of course were not confined to Imperial Rome since family feuds were customary in German aristocratic circles as well. However even though mother figures in Germany are strong it is true that aristocratic mammas preferred going to the opera rather than fretting over little troubles with their sons (That's what nannies are for).

"Agrippina" is an early historic drama in wherein Herr Guazzoni's artistic characteristics and talents are on full display. However, due to its early date, the picture is just a series of dramatized vignettes acted out in a theatrical way. Frau Adele Bianchi Azzarilli brings great authority to her role.

In spite of the primitive film grammar of the time, "Agrippina" does include some camera movement, medium shots, and smooth continuity. The outdoor scenes mesh well with the indoor lavish sets and the film is really remarkable for its day due mostly to the great personal style of Herr Guazzoni who will certainly improve his technique during the coming years.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must play the lyre with Herr Nero.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com
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