Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Martyrs on the silver screen : Early Church martyrdom in Italian silent cinema (1898-1930)
Author: North, Joseph Albert
ISNI:       0000 0004 5923 1401
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Thesis embargoed until 18 Aug 2021
Access from Institution:
While the historical film genre and works like Quo Vadis (1913) and Cabiria (1914) have long been considered as highpoints for Italian silent cinema, the religious aspects of the genre have remained little-explored. My thesis examines screen representations of the Early Church martyr between 1898 and 1930, investigating one illustrated lecture series, nine one-reel films and seven feature films. The early chapters set out the cinematic and intertextual contexts within which these films appeared, from the religious novels of the mid-nineteenth century to the Catholic film sector of the early 1900s. The first case study uncovers the depictions of Early Church life made by Vatican archaeologist and film pioneer Rodolfo Kanzler. Subsequent chapters consider depictions of martyrdom in one-reel narrative films, the first epic features, wartime propaganda, the sexualised epics of the 1920s and emigrant-commissioned projects. Tracing this theme across Italian silent cinema uncovers some fascinating works, including Enrico Guazzoni’s gory Fabiola (1918), the Lyda Borelli propaganda vehicle La Leggenda di Santa Barbara (1918) and Elvira Notari’s emigrant-commissioned project, Trionfo Cristiano (1930). Combining cultural studies and close film analysis, I reveals connections between the films, Italian society, Catholicism and earlier cultural production featuring Christian martyrs. The thesis argues that the early Church martyr was a complex figure in Italian cinema, stuck between nationalistic interpretations of the Roman past and Catholic models of heroism; religious audiences and those seeking the decadent spectacles of ancient Rome; high art values and popular entertainment; domestic political meanings and transnational appeal. In balancing between these competing priorities and discourses, cinematic representations of the Christian martyr charted Italy’s relationship with its Classical and Early Christian pasts during the early part of the twentieth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available