'Cabiria' 1914: Restoring 1 of Most Influential Movies + 'Brokeback Mountain' (Not) in Muslim World

Cabiria 1914Cabiria 1914: Reconstructed silent epic to be screened in Turin

Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria (1914), one of the most influential films ever made, “has been reconstructed from long-lost rushes recently found in a Turin basement,” reports ANSA. Missing only 5 percent of its original footage, the restored Cabiria will have its premiere on March 20, 2006, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, the city where the epic was filmed. The screening will be preceded by a video presentation by Martin Scorsese.

Following its world premiere in Turin, Cabiria will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May, “the first stop in a world tour.”

Cabiria: Movie epic with nationalistic bent

Set during the time of the Second Punic War, Cabiria pits noble Romans against barbarian Carthaginians; not coincidentally, the film was released three years after the Italo-Turkish war, following which Italy took over former Turkish (Ottoman) territory in North Africa. Partly based on Emilio Salgari's Carthage in Flames and Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô, Cabiria had titles written by rabid nationalist poet and journalist Gabriele D'Annunzio.

The Cabiria cast included Bartolomeo Pagano as the slave Maciste – in the ensuing decades the hero in dozens of Italian movies – in addition to Lidia Quaranta, Umberto Mozzato, Italia Almirante-Manzini, Émile Vardannes, Alessandro Bernard, and Dante Testa.

Cabiria 1914: One of the most influential movies ever made

Directly or indirectly, Cabiria has influenced filmmakers the world over, from D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille to Ridley Scott and Peter Jackson. Along with Enrico Guazzoni's 1912 version of Quo Vadis, Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria was the epic par excellence of the first half of the 1910s.

American filmmaker D.W. Griffith was inspired by the Pastrone film – which today makes for a visually impressive but ponderous experience – to create the Babylonian sequences for his 1916 socially conscious epic Intolerance. That, in turn, inspired the builders of the Hollywood & Highland complex, where the Oscar ceremony's Kodak Theater is located. So, however indirectly, Cabiria has even inspired a mall in the heart of Hollywood.

Note: Federico Fellini's 1957 comedy-drama Nights of Cabiria has nothing in common with the 1914 movie, except for the fact that Giulietta Masina's sex worker has the same name as the young heroine in Giovanni Pastrone's epic.

'Brokeback Mountain' & the Muslim world

Brian Whitaker's The Guardian article "Brokeback desert":

"It is a pity Brokeback Mountain isnt showing in the Arab world, because it resembles current reality there."

"Brokeback Mountain is a film which has nothing positive about it, said Dr Abdullah al-Amiri, a prominent member of parliament in Sharjah emirate. The portrayal of the sexual behaviour of its main character [sic] is offensive to eastern societies, particularly Muslims and the Arabs, since Islam forbids abnormal behaviours like homosexuality The film will upset the people of this culture and tradition.

"In Saudi Arabia the question of showing Brokeback simply doesnt arise: the ultra-conservative kingdom sidesteps the problem of censoring films by not permitting cinemas. Lebanon, the most easy-going of the Arab countries, might possibly allow it, but so far no Lebanese film distributor has plucked up the courage to give it a try."

Directed by Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway.

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Danish cinema a hit in Denmark

“Nation queuing up for homemade movies” via Denmark.dk: “Danish film success at international film festivals is rubbing off on the domestic box office. With six out of the top ten films last year produced in Denmark, the country's directors are proving that a film need not come out of Hollywood to turn into a hit.

“Despite a Europe-wide crisis in the cinema industry, the domestic market is thriving. New figures from Statistics Denmark show that out of the 12.2 million cinema tickets sold last year, 4 million of them were for homegrown movies.”

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