The Dumb Girl of Portici 1916
The Dumb Girl of Portici was director Lois Weber's most magnificent epic, the first film of its kind directed by a woman and the celebrated dancer Anna Pavlova's one moment of screen immortality. Based on a French opera, it tells a lovelorn story against the somewhat reality-based backdrop of Italian peasants fighting Spanish rule. Pavlova is Fenella, a mute resident of a fishermens' village in Naples, who is seduced and abandoned by the son of the Viceroy of Naples before he marries a Spanish princess. This drama is overwhelmed by the anger of the villagers at their oppression as they riot and attempt to defeat the Spaniards.

When the film was made, it was the most expensive that Universal had undertaken (not to mention the most elaborate production directed by a woman), earning it a footnote in cinematic history that, unfortunately, did not prevent it from falling into obscurity.

People who feel cheated that Pavlova doesn't dance much in The Dumb Girl of Portici will delight in a parcel of extras that feature mostly dance. A 48-minute short, "The Immortal Swan", is a 1935 documentary tribute filmed not long after Pavlova's death that depicts the star dancing, including her most famous solo, "The Dying Swan".

More dancing is featured in a 13-minute short filmed at the Douglas Fairbanks Studio, and there are up-close-and-personal glimpses of Pavlova in a 13-minute compilation of home movies and a two-minute newsreel, all filmed in the '20s and all incredibly interesting to watch.

Directors: Phillips Smalley, Lois Weber
Cast: Anna Pavlova, Rupert Julian, Wadsworth Harris
Country: USA

BD50 + BD25 | 1080p AVC | 01:54:43 | 33.1 Gb + 22.5 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English intertitles
Subtitles: none
Genre: Drama, History, Romance

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