The Ancient World in Silent Cinema

Pantelis Michelakis - Maria Wyke (curr.), The Ancient World in Silent Cinema, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge-New York 2012, £ 75 (ISBN 9781107016101).

1 Introduction: silent cinema, antiquity and ‘the exhaustless urn of time'
Pantelis Michelakis and Maria Myke

Part I Theories, Histories, Receptions
2 The ancient world on silent film: the view from the archive
Bryony Dixon
3 On visual cogency: the emergence of an antiquity of moving images
Marcus Becker
4 Cinema in the time of the pharaohs
Antonia Lant
5 ‘Hieroglyphics in motion': representing ancient Egypt and the Middle East in film theory and criticism of the silent period
Laura Marcus
6 Architecture and art dance meet in the ancient world
David Mayer
7 Ancient Rome in London: classical subjects in the forefront of cinema's expansion after 1910
Ian Christie
8 Gloria Swanson as Venus: silent stardom, antiquity and the classical vernacular
Michael Williams
9 Homer in silent cinema
Pantelis Michelakis

Part II Movement, Image, Music, Text
10 Silent Saviours: representations of Jesus' Passion in early cinema
Caroline Van der Stichele
11 The Kalem Ben-Hur (1907)
Jon Solomon
12 Judith's vampish virtue and its double market appeal
Judith Buchanan
13 Competing ancient worlds in early historical film: the example of Cabiria (1914)
Annette Dorgerloh
14 Peplum, melodrama and musicality: Giuliano l'Apostata (1919)
Giuseppe Pucci
15 ‘An orgy Sunday School children can watch': the spectacle of sex and the seduction of spectacle in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1923)
David Shepherd
16 Silent laughter and the counter-historical: Buster Keaton's Three Ages (1923)
 Maria Wyke
17 From Roman history to German nationalism: Arminius and Varus in Die Hermannschlacht (1924)
Martin M. Winkler
18 The 1925 Ben-Hur and the ‘Hollywood Question'
Ruth Scodel
19 Consuming passions: Helen of Troy in the jazz age
Margaret Malamud

General bibliography
Index of films discussed
In the first four decades of cinema, hundreds of films were made that drew their inspiration from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Bible. Few of these films have been studied, and even fewer have received the critical attention they deserve. The films in question, ranging from historical and mythological epics to adaptations of ancient drama, burlesques, cartoons and documentaries, suggest a fascination with the ancient world that competes in intensity and breadth with that of Hollywood's classical era. What contribution did antiquity make to the development of early cinema? How did early cinema's representations affect modern understanding of antiquity? Existing prints as well as ephemera scattered in film archives and libraries around the world constitute an enormous field of research. This extensively illustrated edited collection is a first systematic attempt to focus on the instrumental role of silent cinema in twentieth-century conceptions of the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East.