Cabiria – Pastrone (1914)

Cabiria is an awe-inspiring film. I don’t think it would be remade today without extensive use of CGI effects, and I don’t think it would be remade. The grand historical epic is not something that the movie-going public seems to want these days – historical epics are consigned to 10 minute youtube videos now. Still, with plenty of action, sumptuous sets, and an exotic locale, there is a lot to be said for this movie. The acting style is more theatrical than I’m used to seeing a modern movie – it is more “grand theater” – but seems to fit the overall epic style of the movie well. Takes a bit of getting used to now and then. Movie-making was still a work-in-progress in 1914 – there is a lot of experimentation going on in this movie and the result is a bit uneven here and there, but for the most part it works. The movie goes for realism – re-creating the ancient world in mind-boggling detail. The costumes, props, sets are so good, that when something comes along that isn’t perfect, it stands out – unfairly. When it is good, no modern movie would dare try to compete (without CGI). When it is not so good, it requires a suspension of expectations, shall we say: it is way better than we have any right to expect almost 100 years after the movie was made. This movie pulls you in and makes you care about the characters while treating you to some eye-candy that is as good as it gets.



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