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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
This article is about Giovanni Pastrone's 1914 silent film, for the Federico Fellini film, see The Nights of Cabiria.

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 on Emilio Salgari's Cartagine in fiamme (Carthage in Flames) and Gustave Flaubert's exotic novel Salammbo. 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 (who would later become the protagonist in a whole successful series of films on his own). Hannibal and his war elephants fit into the convoluted plot of this epic film.

Italian author Gabriele d'Annunzio contributed to the screenplay and wrote all of the intertitles. 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.

A restored version of the film screened on 27 May, 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival, featuring a filmed introduction by director Martin Scorsese.

Like Birth of a Nation Cabiria has aroused its share of controversy because of the political nature of its subject matter. It was produced by Italian ultra-nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio and was released soon after the Italo-Turkish War, in which Italy conquered the North African Ottoman provinces of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. The parallels in the film, about Rome conquering an inferior North African Carthage, can be seen as a celebration of Italian imperialism.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cabiria" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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