Presentazione del progetto Le cinéma muet italien à la croisée des arts européens (1896-1930), coordinato da Céline Gailleurd
Publicity in 1917 praised the high-class production values of Caligula, its opulent mise en scène, the costumes, catacombs and lions, and of course Stacia Napierkowska, the dancer-actress-diva from Paris. All of this still works perfectly well for audiences today, and they will moreover appreciate the use of suggestive locations near Rome for the outdoor scenes, with silhouettes of ancient Roman aqueducts in the background. Jean Carrère, present on the set of Caligula in late 1916, declared Napierkowska to be “a gret artist, dancing half-naked in a performance more powerful than anything she has done so far”. The dance scene in the 3rd part of the film (titled The Orgies), is indeed the longest in any of Napierkowska’s surviving films, and it was a major reason to restore the film. Only a negative without intertitles was known to exist, found among the fifty-four original negatives of Film d’Arte Italiana productions that were discovered in the early 1990’s by Bologna archivists in the Cinémathèque française. (The Rome-based F.A.I. was owned by Pathé frères; this explains why the negatives of this company ended up in France rather than Italy).
When asked for paper documents that might permit the reconstruction of the missing intertitles, Dutch colleagues answered that there was not much non-film material available, only a first-generation nitrate positive print… It had never been restored, since it lacked the crucial dance scene. With its rich tinting and toning and Dutch intertitles, the print provided all the information that the negative lacked. The missing scene (present in the negative) shows a Christian girl doing a lascivious dance for crazy Caligula and then being carried off by two huge slaves on a silver platter, in order to be served in the bed chamber to his Imperial Highness. It had been cut in the 1920’s, when the film, which like Quo Vadis? is set in the days of the persecution of Christians, was used for religious education.
Cast and Credits
T. alt.: Caligola, Dementia Caligulae imperatoris. Int.: Stacia Napierkowska (Eglea), Raffaello Mariani (Caligula), Elio Gioppo (Chereas). Prod.: Film d’Arte Italiana DCP. D.: 65’. Tinted and toned.
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