09 20 Oct '24
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Giovanni Pastrone


Edition 1988
130' - 1914 - War, Historical, Drama, Adventure - Dialogue: Italian
Director: Giovanni Pastrone Composer: Ildebrando Pizzetti With: Lidia Quaranta, Teresa Marangoni, Dante Testa

The year 1912 meant the beginning of the great period of the « peplums » or « colossi » in Italian cinema. Quo Vadis was to open the series, Cabiria was to become the highlight. The ltalian premiere was the beginning of successful career: Cabiria was to become the example of silent cinema.
The film is truly exceptional in many ways and it has innovated various techniques which have now become everyday practice in filmmaking. lts technical ingeniosity, its impressive sets, its intelligent use of artificial light, its camera movements, with panoramic and travelling shots, its realistic rather than choreographical direction of masses, its grandiloquent narrative reminding of the opera and its ideology inspired by ltalian nationalism make Cabiria a landmark in the history of cinema.
Pastrone found his inspiration in Emilio Salgari's Cartagine in fiamme (Carthago in Flames), in Flaubert's Salambo and in the imagery of the 19th Century historical novels. He describes the eventful and pathetic story of a young girl called Cabiria (i.e. « the girl of
fire ») in the days of the Second Punic War (219-210 B.C.) She manages to escape the eruption of the Etna, is kidnapped by pirates, becomes a slave in Carthago where she risks being sacrificed to the flames of Moloch in the temple of the Grand Priest. She is saved by the Roman Fulvio Axilla and by his slave Maciste (a gigantic black character) and they are obliged to find shelter in an enemy territory. Cabiria tries to save herself along with her liberators. Axilla manages to escape, but Maciste is taken prisoner, in spite of a heroic fight. Cabiria is saved by Sophonisbe, whose slave she will be for quite a while. In the mean time, the war between Rome and Carthago grows fiercer than ever.
Sophonisbe commits suicide in Carthago, Maciste saves Cabiria for the second time and he brings her back to Fulvio Axilla, who has fallen in love with her. Together they return to Rome. In this film, which is the first to use real sets instead of the traditional
'trompes-l 'oeil', heroism and melodrama, grandeur and cliché, romance and spectacularity meet and it has become the prototype of film spectaculars.

Image gallery

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Giovanni Pastrone


Ildebrando Pizzetti


Lidia Quaranta, Teresa Marangoni, Dante Testa


Gabriele D'Annunzio, Giovanni Pastrone

Director of Photography

Segunde de Chomon, Giovanni Tomatis


Giovanni Pastrone

More information



Countries of production


Screenplay based on

Titus Livius; Emilio Salgari



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