Maciste, Italy’s Fairbanks


Maciste alpino

Three fragments

Maciste alpino
R: Luigi Maggi, Luigi Romano Borgnetto; Supervision Giovanni Pastrone. K: Giovanni Tomatis, Carlo Franzoni, Augusto Battagliotti. D: Bartolomeo Pagano, Fido Schirru, Enrico Gemelli, Marussia Allesti. P: Itala Film. It 1916
Print: Cineteca MNC
Frgm. I

Maciste alpino
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Maciste alpino
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“Maciste made his debut in the 1914 Italian silent movie classic Cabiria. (…) Maciste’s debut set the tone for his later adventures. Including Cabiria itself, there have been at least 52 movies featuring Maciste, 27 of them being pre-1927 silent films starring Bartolomeo Pagano and the other 25 being a series of sound/color films produced in the early 1960s. Typical plots involve tyrannical rulers who practice vile magical rituals or worship evil gods. Typically, the young lady who is the love interest runs afoul of the evil ruler. Maciste, who possesses superhuman strength, must rescue her. There is often a rightful king who wants to overthrow the evil usurper, as well as a belly dance scene. There is often an evil queen who has carnal designs on the hero. These films were set in locales including Mongolia, Peru, Egypt, and the Roman Empire.”

“Upon Cabiria’s release, the popular press and national and international audiences alike hailed Maciste as an Italian hero, despite his diegetic racial otherness, by readily and enthusiastically admiring his bravery and strength as well as his kindness and gentleness; they quickly dubbed him ‘Il gigante buono’ (the gentle giant). Following the film’s and the character’s phenomenal international success, Itala Film decided to produce a series of adventure films with Maciste as protagonist, beginning with Maciste (released in the United States as ‘Marvelous Maciste’, Vincenzo Dénizot and Romano Luigi Borgnetto, Itala, 1915), supervised by Pastrone. Pagano subsequently starred in approximately twenty films produced by Itala and other film companies, including Maciste alpino (‘The Warrior’, Giovanni Pastrone, Itala, 1916), Maciste innamorato (‘Maciste in love’, Romano Luigi Borgnetto, Itala, 1919), and Maciste in vacanza (‘Maciste on Vacation’, Romano Luigi Borgnetto, Itala, 1921).”
Jaqueline Reich: The Metamorphosis of Maciste in Italian Silent Cinema

“Pagani (!), or Maciste, as he has been known since the Cabiria film, is the Douglas Fairbanks of Italy. As a matter of fact, he out-Fairbanks Fairbanks, since he is almost twice as big as our own favorite athletic actor. Fairbanks has often whipped a whole township in live reels, but in ‘The Warrior’ Maciste makes the whole Austrian Army shake in its boots.
The Austro-Italian Alpine front furnished the background for most of the scenes, so that from a pictorial point of view the film is impressive. Through the intervention of Gabriele d’Annunzio, the poet, who wrote Cabiria, permission from the Italian Government was obtained to invade the fighting zone with the movie camera, so the fictional episodes are interlarded with views of real troop movements.”
The New York Times, July 17, 1917

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