Cabiria is a Roman child when her home is destroyed by a volcano. Sold in Carthage to be sacrificed in a temple, is saved by Fulvio, a Roman spy. But danger lurks, and hatred between Rome and Carthage can only lead to war.
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
The architectural style of the Coppedè neighborhood (in fact, a few blocks) in Rome, was based on "Cabiria" scenarios. Architect Gino Coppedè, who started working on the project in 1915, was a huge fan of the film. The location itself has been used as a filming location for many films, such as "L'Audace Colpo dei Soliti Ignoti" (1959), "Il Boom" (1963), "L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo" (1970) or "Violent Rome" (1975). See more »
Eighteen Frame, Inc. copyrighted a version in 1990 with a piano music score based on the original score by Manlio Mazza, and performed by Jacques Gauthier. Intertitles were translated by Charles Affron and Mirella Jona Affron. It was distributed by Kino Video and runs 125 minutes, but there is also a two-minute introduction. See more »
Giovanni Pastrone's grand-scale storytelling of a lost princess, her journey from being kidnapped to almost being offered as a child sacrifice and then ending up as a slave, 'Cabiria' is cinema's first true epic. Pastrone made several films, and the scope and spectacle of his films inspired directors like Griffith and Fellini, but 'Cabiria' is the only one which has stood the test of time. And since the story is set almost 2000 years ago, the aged quality of this 100-year-old film only adds to the feel of the time.
Like Griffith's 'Birth of a Nation', 'Cabiria' too was shrouded in controversy for its biased depiction of races, places and cultures. Like 'Birth of a Nation' propagated Ku Klux Klan's nobility and agenda, 'Cabiria' tried to legitimize Italy's distant past, and tried to promote and inspire themes like 'wars of conquest', Roman salute, racial nobility and virtue, etc. I mean, all the non-Roman characters in the film are depicted in negative light.
Whatever the controversial history the movie might have, if one is ready to ignore those aspects and try to acknowledge the feat it tries to achieve in the medium of filmmaking, it's an enjoyable journey. The movie offers many fascinating sequences, like, the child offerings at Temple of Moloch, Princess Sophonisba's pet leopard and even her spectacular arrival for her almost wedding, soldiers and elephants crossing the Alps, the pyramid formed by soldiers and shields in one continuous shot, and few others.
The original version is said to have been three hours long. I saw the truncated 1993 restoration, which is two hours long. In this itself, the number of characters and events seem too many, a few of them almost unnecessary; I wonder what the extra 60 minutes had in store. Better editing (I mean, even shorter than two hours) could have made the story tighter, more interesting and compelling.
Overall, it's an interesting story and a well-made film, and personally, I liked it much more than the overrated 'Ben-Hur'.
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