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Quo Vadis (1913 film)

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Language  Silent
Director  Enrico Guazzoni
Country  Italy

Release date  1912 (1912)
Based on  Henryk Sienkiewicz (novel)

Quo Vadis? is an Italian film made directed by Enrico Guazzoni for Cines in 1913, based on the 1896 novel of the same name written by Henryk Sienkiewicz. It was arguably the first blockbuster in the history of cinema, with 5,000 extras, lavish sets, and a running time of two hours, setting the standard for "superspectacles" for decades to come.


Quo Vadis (1913 film) Scene from the 1913 Italian silent film Quo Vadis

A worldwide success, it premièred in Germany at the opening night of the Ufa-Pavillon am Nollendorfplatz (Berlin's first purpose-built, free-standing cinema), on 19 March 1913. In an unusual departure from normal cinematic practice, the crowd scenes were reinforced with "special mobs" of live costumed actors in the auditorium.

Quo Vadis (1913 film) Scene from the 1913 Italian silent film Quo Vadis Library of

Quo Vadis? was the first film to be projected in a first-class Broadway theater (the Astor Theatre), where it was screened for nine months from April to December 1913. The film's first screening in London was for King George V, in the Royal Albert Hall, who complimented the performers.

Quo Vadis (1913 film) New publications online 3 Ivo Blom

Another Italian director, Giovanni Pastrone, would direct Cabiria (1914) – which holds many similarities with Quo Vadis, but is longer, more thematically complex, and visually spectacular.

Quo Vadis (1913 film) Quo vadis Cinelibro Fratelli Treves del 1914 con illustrazioni

Quo vadis preview


Quo Vadis (1913 film) Quo vadis 1912 on Vimeo

The story is set during the early years of rule by the emperor Nero. He is an ambitious man obsessed with gaining absolute power. His soldier falls in love with a young Christian slave named Lycia, but their love is hindered by Nero, who hates Christianity and unleashes his officers to burn Rome, pinning the blame on the Christians. In addition, the cruel Nero kidnaps the pair and sends them into an arena to fight lions.

Other versions

  • 1901 film directed by Lucien Nonguet and Ferdinand Zecca
  • 1912 film directed by Arturo Ambrosio
  • 1925 film directed by Gabriellino D'Annunzio and Georg Jacoby
  • 1951 film directed by Mervyn LeRoy
  • 1985 TV mini-series directed by Franco Rossi
  • 2001 film directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz
  • 2002 TV series (6 ep.) directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz
  • References

    Quo Vadis (1913 film) Wikipedia