Guazzoni: Dr. Faust and Cajus Julius Caesar

R: Enrico Guazzoni / Henri Andréani / David Barnett. B: Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and the opera ‘La damnation de Faust’ by Charles Gounod. D: Ugo Bazzini, Fernanda Negri Pouget, Alfredo Bracci, Giuseppe Gambardella. P: Pathé Frères (Série d’Art [SAPF])/ Cines, Roma. Fr/It 1910
French titles
A soundtrack of Animatophone (Gounod, Ch. Müller) was provided. Two reels, 605 m. Different versions (minor changes) for UK, France, Italy, US. Distributed in Italy by Cines.

“This is the old story which has been handed down to us from time immemorial, and which was woven into a drama by Goethe and set to music by Gounod. The story of Faust and his temptation by the devil is so well known as to render a repetition of the story unnecessary. The film follows closely the Goethe dramatization, and is magnificent in its scenery, action and coloring. Like Il Trovatore, the music has been arranged to suit the film, scene for scene, and, with the musical accompaniment, forms a spectacle unequaled in the world of motion pictures.”
The Moving Picture World, June 17, 1911

David Barnett directed 1910 another short film in UK: Il trovatore, several songs synchronised to gramophone records, produced by Animatophone.

Cajus Julius Caesar
R: Enrico Guazzoni. B: Raffaele Giovagnoli. D: Amleto Novelli, Bruto Castellani, Irene Mattalia. P: Società Italiana Cines. It 1914
Print: Jean Desmet collection
Dutch titles

Film ends at 1h 51min 40sec.

“The high point in Guazzoni’’s epic representation of Caesar’‘s life (…),significantly, touches most explicitly on events dear to the hearts of nationalists and other warmongers in contemporary Italy. A long, spectacular sequence, shot with a distant, overhead camera, receives apparent authentication at the same time as it gains immense aesthetic appeal by the extraordinary degree to which it recasts in moving images the celebrated pictorial cycle ‘Triumphs of Caesar'(ca. 1480) by Andrea Mantegna, a cycle that once hung in the palace of the Gonzaga family to display, by association, their own power, prestige, and iron virility. Through a Forum crowded with eager spectators, there slowly snakes a magnificent parade of – to name only selected groups – lictors, standard bearers wearing animal-skin hoods, trumpeters, javelin-bearing infantry, prisoners and trophies from Gaul, more garlanded foot soldiers and togate senators, a float drawn by four horses that carries high the laurel-bearing triumphator on whom the crowd throws rose petals, Egyptian priests with feather fans, cavalry, and so on. The whole event is heralded by an intertitle which suggests that Caesar, like the Italian nationalists after him, is celebrating African victory and empire (…).”
Maria Wyke: Julius Caesar in Western Culture. Malden/Oxford/Carlton 2006, p. 176 f.


Andrea Mantegna: Triumphs of Caesar (scene 2),  ca. 1485

“In January 1914, Francesca Bertini was prominently featured on the first page of the American magazine ‘Motography’, and a few months later the ‘Moving Picture World’ celebrated Lyda Borelli as ‘the Bernhardt of the Photo Play’. Their male colleagues, such as top actors Emilio Ghione and Mario Bonnard appear equally in the international trade press, giving proof of the impact of the Italian star system. Italian cinema was a worldwide commercial success and by 1914 it also occupied an important place in the national artistic culture: Roberto Bracco, Matilde Serao, Nino Oxilia, Lucio d’Ambra, Nino Martoglio, leading figures of the cultural scene are all firmly engaged in cinematography; Gabriele D’Annunzio is fêted in the press for the mediatic event of the year, Cabiria, for which he assumed the well-paid but fictitious autorship. Apart from this colossal, or Guazzoni’s Caius Julius Caesar or Oxilia’s Sangue bleu or Negroni’s Histoire d’un Pierrot, the Italian film industry as a whole reached an unprecedented level of productivity and creativity in 1914, the main reason being an ongoing generational change. Gallone, Palermi, Genina, Zorzi and Campogalliani all made their first work in 1913-1914. A revolution that would make film history and was already in full swing in 1914.”
Giovanni Lasi
Cineteca di Bologna

“The association of the historical costume film with Italian nationalism is very suggestive. The political rhetoric of expansionism, which called for the aggressive establishment of new colonal empires, was represented as nothing less than the enactment of manifest destiny inaugurated by the ‘Italian’ experience of the Roman Empire. In early May 1915, on the eve of Italy’s entrance into the war, D’Annunzio delivered a series of speeches that extolled the virtues of military conquest. His call to action was expressed as a continuation of Imperial Roman tradition (…).
In this context, the rhetorical revocation of Rome was supported by its fictive reconstruction in the films. That is, at the same time that nationalist speeches referred to an ideal of the Roman past as a legimation of their political agenda, a large set of films circulated images of Roman antiquity to larger, popular audiences.”
Steven Ricci: Cinema and Fascism: Italian Film and Society, 1922–1943. University of California Press 2008, P. 45 f.


>>>Guazzoni’s Quo vadis? on this site: Blockbusters from Italy