|Index||6 reviews in total|
Elagabalus was married as many as five times, lavished favors on
courtiers popularly assumed to have been his homosexual lovers, and was
reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. His
reputed behavior infuriated the Praetorian Guard, the Senate and the
common people alike.(Wikipedia)
Feuillade could have chosen a more famous emperor ,for this obscure one -who also despised Roman religion- looks like Nero or Caligula. It's Rome 218 AD,folks ,and the decadent emperor is having a good time with male and female courtiers taking part of an orgy.The emperor and the ladies' costumes seem more oriental than Roman.
First sequence:looks like a fashion show .
Second sequence: the grooming of the emperor: although the emperor seems to enjoy the ladies who keep him company ,he looks himself more like a woman .alas !someone scratches the emperor !"you deserve to die" ;in spite of the people who implore him ,he is delivered to the lions.
Third sequence :the lions pit;people have a wonderful time watching the lions' meal;De Mille will show the same sadism when he films his "sign of the cross"
Fourth sequence:the orgy (at last for that's what the audience was waiting for)binge,pagan dances and flowers showering down:lovely.No sleeping around.Alas ,the lions spoil the party.
Fifth sequence:the assassination:the courtesans decide to put an end to this shameful reign.Down on his knees,the king tries to save his life ,crying for mercy;contrast between the effeminate sovereign and the virile brutal guards .
Thus died Elagabalus.
Directed by the great silent cinema pioneer Louis Feuillade (a man with
a highly prolific career, directing everything from crime serials to
romantic dramas), this is a brief and highly interesting small scale
Roman epic. It isn't among the finest works of this era, but it
certainly is a fascinating historical document with plenty of merits.
It showcases some early use of tinting as well as the Ancient Rome
epic-even if it is on a highly small scale-and is visually interesting.
Using many neat backgrounds and special effects methods, Feuillade has
created a historical universe here similar to the magical lands of
Georges Melies. The surrealism and whimsical fantasy does not seem to
be intended here, but that seems to make it all the more enchanting.
I would also like to note one scene that really caught my eye in which a man is sent to be killed by lions, and we see him being thrown into the pit of lions. Real lions were used in this scene, and it thrilled me a surprising amount when I saw the man running off camera from them. Just a brief moment showing off the magic of early cinema.
Is this the short Louis Feuillade spectacle (well mildly spectacular)
where the transvestite emperor has his slave fed to the lions he turns
loose on the orgy lot before the Pretorian guard take his head? Mainly
one shot one scene, with the most inventive touch being staging the
upper and lower frame as the Imperial party and the victims below.The
golden areas in the shot are tinted - stencil colour?
A ten line coverage of this film will take longer to read than the filmlet does to watch. Does anyone really want that?
I mean anyone?
The dissolute Emperor Heliogabalus (Jean Aymé) dresses as a woman, and
looses lions among his guests.
The only thing that really stands out about this film is the use of lions. Of course, these lions are tame, but it is the first use of lions on film to my knowledge, and in a scenario where they are interacting with human beings. Anyone who had not been to a circus might have seen this and been amazed.
Beyond that, there is not much to report. Today's audiences might expect something a bit juicier based on the word "orgy" in the title, but do not get your hopes up. Regardless of the title, this is still a film from an earlier time when such images were not for public consumption.
L'orgie romaine (1911)
*** (out of 4)
Simple but fun French film takes place in Rome, 218 AD as Elagabalus enjoys being treated as the master he is as countless women take care of him. This ranges from them doing his clothes and giving him a bath. In one of the film's best moments, a servant accidentally scratched Elagabalus so he sends the guy to the lion pits where he's eaten before everyone goes back to the orgy (or more of a party). Those expecting some nudity of dirty stuff will be disappointed as the title is quite misleading but I'm going to guess it was used to get some folks into the theater expecting something more naughty. What is here is a pleasant little gem that gives us a fake history lesson in just eight-minutes. Director Feuillade manages to pack quite a bit into the short running time but there's no question the highlight is the lion's den, which actually manages to contain some mild suspense even though we know the actor is in no real danger. Another highlight comes towards the end when the always joking Elagabalus lets the lions join the party. The final five-minutes of this film are hand colored and it looks very good. Another major plus are the wonderful sets and nice costumes. Fans of early cinema will certainly want to check this one out.
While this film set in ancient Rome is NOT nearly on par with contemporary films on the subject (such as the early versions of "Quo Vadis?" and "Maciste"), I was very impressed because the film makers had a lot of nice costumes and sets (for 1911) and, believe it or not, lions running around the set!! Yes...LIONS!! Cool, certainly, but unfortunately not enough to make this a must-see film! The film begins with Emperor Héliogabale (or "Elagabal" or "Heliogabalus") putting on a weird fashion show. Then you see him act cruel and petty until eventually his own soldiers kill him. But, most importantly, there is NOT ONE BIT OF ROMAN ORGY to be found in this film! Anyone wanting to see nudity or debauchery should look elsewhere! Overall, the film looked nice but came off as episodic and disappointing (not just because of the lack of salaciousness).
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|