Cabiria is a classic silent movie from the early years of Italy's movie industry, directed by Giovanni Pastrone. It was released in 1914.
The movie is based very loosely on Gustave Flaubert's exotic novel Salammbô . Set in ancient Carthage during the period of the Second Punic War, it treats the conflict between Rome and Carthage through the eyes of Cabiria, the title character, who is kidnapped by pirates, sold as a slave in Carthage, and rescued from being sacrificed to the god Moloch by a Roman nobleman and his muscular slave Maciste.
Italian author Gabriele d'Annunzio contributed to the screenplay and wrote all of the placards. The movie was inventive and innovative in its cinematography for the time, and was a major influence on Birth of a Nation by D. W. Griffith, although film critic Roger Ebert said Griffith, "moves the camera with greater freedom and has a headlong narrative and an exciting use of cross-cutting that Pastrone does not approach." The film also marked the debut of the Maciste character, who went on to have a long career in Italian sword and sandal films.
According to Roger Ebert, The Criterion Collection is preparing a DVD of the film for release in the near future. It was restored by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema (Torino, Italy), in association with PresTech Film Laboratories Ltd. (London, England.)
A restored version of the film screened on 27 May 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival, featuring by a filmed introduction by director Martin Scorsese.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
In Third Century, BC Carthage, during the second Punic War, Young Cabiria is about to be sacrificed to the god Moloch, but is saved by the Roman Fulvio Axilla and his faithful servant Maciste.
Many years later, the two recognise her as the beautiful Elissa, the favorite of Sofonisba, the king of Carthage's daughter, and entrapped by the high priest Kharthalo. The final defeat of Carthage by the Romans crowns the birth of love between Axilla and Cabiria. Hannibal and his elephants also make an appearance in the films rather convoluted plot.
Spoilers end here.
- Teresa Marangoni - Croessa
- Umberto Mozzato - Fulvio Axilla
- Bartolomeo Pagano - Maciste
- Raffaele Di Napoli - Bodastoret
- Lydia Quaranta - Cabiria
- Italia Almirante Manzini - Sofonisba
- Dante Testa - Karthalo
- The film is said to have been the first film epic ever screened in the White House.