East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The Silent Cinema Blogathon: Cabiria (1914)

indexIt’s the Silent Cinema Blogathon, hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – follow the link to get the full list of blogs participating and movies being reviewed.
Join the fun.

Now, here at Karavansara, we go for pulp adventure, historical fiction and other less-than-sophisticated forms of entertainment, and it is therefore fitting that we take a look at a movie that was the mother of all sword & sandal flicks, of all the historical movie fantasies and Greco-Roman “peplums”.
A movie that almost exactly one century ago, was the first movie to be shown in the White House.

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Other People’s Pulps – Revenge of the Peplums

cabiria101They never wrote novels about Maciste.
But someone’s writing them now.

Back in the ’50s and ’60s, Italy had its own brand of fantasy movies – they were called peplums, from the standard garment worn by the female characters, the classic attire of ancient Greece, or more generically “film mitologico” – myth-based movies.
And we’re talking classical myths – Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, Ulysses… and Maciste.

Maciste first surfaced in 1914, in the silent era colossal Cabiria, portrayed by Bartolomeo Pagano, a former docks worker turned actor.
The success of the character was such that the following year Maciste was back on screen, starring in his own spin-off – the straightforwardly titled Maciste. Continue reading