It doesn’t diminish Griffith, Birth of a Nation or Intolerance, but the brilliance and scope of Giovanni Pastrone’s Cabiria is more evidence to the fact that cinema, and the fiction feature, is and was a progression of technological, narrative, and stylistic innovations— and this is a big, significant, successful step in that progression
Shot in episodes or chapters like a novel—and Pastrone’s work clearly has novelistic ambitions and characteristics (both good and bad). It is smart, heavy, dense, high-brow dialogue (and lots of it)—which is interruptive. Complex character connections, wide-ranging locations and a decently sized ensemble. Pastrone expected much from his audience- a good thing overall.
The volcano set piece is a wow—and for effect, and artistry, Pastrone puts people running in the foreground. A very nice shot.
The narrative is intricate. There’s fate involved as we follow the travels, trials and tribulations of a stolen girl, the rescue mission after the volcano destroys her city (strong shots of structures and set pieces collapsing). This film is action-filled and violent. Engaging.
The temple of moloch set piece is extremely imposing and awe-inspiring.
The décor matches the ambition on the narrative and set pieces—Pastrone infuses every scene with highly designed period detail. Religious costumes, opulence, torches in some frames—big and impressive. Luxury. It successfully transports.
Have to compare the use of long shots and the entire frame to Keaton’s work as an auteur a decade later as well—von Stroheim as well
Temple of Doom-type stuff- sacrifice
Like Intolerance there are so much shots with like 100 extras moving in the background—we’re on mountain ranges. The size of this is so impressive- from Griffith to DeMille, to Lean and Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson
Pastrone moves the camera effectively as well.
Miniatures in use—like the Roman fleet burning scene
An actual human pyramid scene with shields as they scale a wall.
Wide-ranging again—instead of snow in the mountains later we have some great shots of the camels in long shot across the desert. Wow. Magic hour shot with a string of camels on the horizon
A massive battle — scaling a big wall like Two Towers
Advertised (in a time when films were all shorts) of being a film of “12,000 shots”