Cabiria (1914) - Rotten Tomatoes

Cabiria (1914)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Cabiria is an Italian historical epic that ran a full 14 reels (well over three hours) at a time when most American films were still short subjects. The plot hinges on the abduction of wealthy and virginal Cabiria (Lidia Quaranta) by pirates during the Roman/Carthaginian War of ancient times. Highlights (many of which were filmed on tinted stock) include the burning of the Roman fleet, an effect accomplished with miniatures and mirrors, and Hannibal's crossing of the Alps -- with real Alps, and real elephants. Cabiria allegedly inspired the Babylonian segment of D.W. Griffith's 1916 Intolerance. At least four versions of this film exist, each prepared by Giovanni Pastrone. The two most prominent are a 1913 silent cut that runs a full 181 minutes, and a 1931 sound cut that runs 137 minutes, which underwent advanced restoration in 2007. Both versions were screened at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Gabriele D'Annunzio
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 7, 2000
Itala Film

News & Interviews for Cabiria

Critic Reviews for Cabiria

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (4)

Both one of the most influential films ever made and one of the most rarely shown.

Full Review… | March 27, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

In its particular way, Cabiria is beautiful and enthralling.

Full Review… | July 12, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The mechanical effects are thrilling and excellent, and the photo drama is one of the most effective ever shown here.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Giovanni Pastrone's 1914 film is one of several early Italian epics that significantly influenced the form and flow of the feature film, then in its developmental infancy.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The international success of this Italian spectacle, the longest and most expensive motion picture made up to that date, allowed DW Griffith to gain support for his large-scale projects.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
Radio Times

. The exotic drama, suspense, and daring stunts on display in Pastrone's film of "12,000 shots" is every bit, if not more effective, than that of modern filmmakers whose use of green-screen CGI is frequently used more as a crutch than a meaningful storyte

Full Review… | October 18, 2008

Audience Reviews for Cabiria

"Cabiria," made in Italy in 1914 by Giovanni Pastrone, had a huge impact on cinema, encouraging countless directors worldwide (among them America's D.W. Griffith) to take their craft more seriously and create longer, more artistically ambitious films.

Unfortunately, I found the film a bore. I couldn't watch it for more than an hour. Set during ancient Roman times, it tells the story of a young girl named Cabiria born at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily. After a volcano wipes out her home, she is sold to a Carthaginian priest seeking children to sacrifice in his religious rituals. The only gripping scenes were those in the Temple of Moloch, where naked children are sacrificed one by one as frenzied dancers cheer the priest on.

Cabiria is rescued and ends up on the run under the protection of a fellow Roman and his slave. That's when the boredom really sets in.

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer


After the eruption of Mt. Etna, survivors/looters finds themselves lucky to find an abandoned boat after their escape. And then unlucky, once Phoenician Pirates return and kill most of them. Croessa(Gina Marangoni) and Cabiria(Carolina Catena) are taken to Carthage where Cabiria is set to be sacrificed to their gods. Croessa goes off in search of Axilla(Umberto Mozzato) and his slave Maciste(Bartolomeo Pagano), who she recognizes as being Romans living undercover there, in order to get their help. Meanwhile, Hannibal(Emilio Vardannes) is off on a skiing vacation in the Alps.

"Cabiria" is a suitably epic movie done on a grand scale. Like many other early silent movies, the pace if very fast. So much so, that the movie tries to squeeze the entire Punic Wars into a two hour running time.(By comparison, I was going to bring up "Game of Thrones" but in this case I almost think it could sort of work, especially if you cut out all the scenes in brothels.) A bigger problem lies in the film's lack of focus, as not only does it forget the title character for long stretches, but so to do the other characters who are supposedly looking for her.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

This movie appears to be 10 or 15 years ahead of its time with such advancements as intercut dialogue boxes (though they often contain entire paragraphs with a lot of the story), complex and sprawling sets, and excellent costuming. There are still a few things that can date it. For example, almost the entire film is done with a stationary camera, and there are no matching action shots that Griffith introduced in his chase scenes for Birth of a Nation. In the second half of the film though, there are two moving camera shots. Basically, it is a huge period drama with excellent sets and costumes, and a story that is good enough to keep your interest. Cabiria is also a good film to view for those with an interest in the history of cinema as the viewer can precisely deliniate cinematic advancements and compare it to other early silent features. It is as enjoyable as a movie from the late 1920s and I recommend it for those who can enjoy silents.

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