The Last Days Of Pompeii

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directed by: Mario Caserini
produced by: Ambrosio Film, Torino
starring: Ubaldo Stefani, Eugenia Tettoni Fiorio, Vitale di Stefano, Fernanda Negri Pouget, Antonio Grisanti, Cesare Cani Carini
Italy 1912/13, black & white
70 minutes

This Italian production of 1913 is in more than one way a piece of cinematographic history. Based on Lord Lytton's novel, it portrays the fate and downfall of the roman city of Pompeii in 79 A.D., which ultimately was buried under the ashes of the Vesuvius volcano. THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII, produced in the golden age of Italian silent movies (1909-1916), is one of the very first films containing mass scenes with sometimes over 3000 actors on the set, special effects, plus the first examples of a moving camera.


(...) The earliest period of Italian moviemaking, launched with Filoteo Alberini's device for taking, printing and projecting film (1895), is marked by the first major production, LA PRESA DI ROMA (1905) and by the establishment of film companies in Turin, Rome and Milan. The succeeding Golden Age (1909-1916) is perhaps unparalleled in Europe, and is certainly without peer in that genre for which the Italians demonstrated particular affinity and talent the historical costume spectacle. The directors Guazzoni (QUO VADIS ?, JULIUS CAESAR), Caserini (THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII) and Pastrone (CABIRIA), along with many others, reconstructed Biblical and Roman history with grandeur and movement, expression and design....(...)

Mirella Jona Affron, B.A., Ph.D., Professor of Roman Languages, CUNY.