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MoMA

FILM SCREENINGS

  • The Dumb Girl of Portici

    1916. USA. Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley. 112 min.

Sunday, October 21, 2012, 4:00 p.m.

Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2



  • The Dumb Girl of Portici

    1916. USA. Directed by Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley. Screenplay by Weber, Marion Orth. With Anna Pavlova, Rupert Julian, Wadsworth Harris. Legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881–1931) made her lone feature film appearance in Universal’s lavish adaptation of Daniel Auber’s 1828 opera La muette de Portici—notable for introducing dance into opera having a mute heroine—directed by the studio’s leading director Lois Weber with her husband Phillips Smalley. The movie was hailed in its day: "Cabiria stood for spectacle, The Birth of Nation for emotional thrill, Carmen for individual force, The Dumb Girl of Portici for artistic force,” enthused the critic for the Chicago Tribune. It returns as a revelation. Not only does Pavlova embody an essence of silent cinema, her grace and charisma amply evident, but in choreographing the forty-minute finale in which the residents of seventeenth-century Naples revolt against their Hapsburg rulers, Weber shows herself to be the original Kathryn Bigelow, a female director with confident command of epic action. Preserved by the BFI, London. Silent, piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin. 112 min.