QUO VADIS? At the cinema in the heart of Rome. The charm of antiquity in 10 great films

From July 1st to 10th, 2022, an exhibition, promoted by the CSC – National Film Archive and Colosseum Archaeological Park, will be held in Rome, celebrating cinema’s view of antiquity.

From July 1st to 10th, 2022, a film festival promoted by CSC – National Film Archive and Colosseum Archaeological Park, will take place in Rome, united for the first time in a collaboration, entitled QUO VADIS? At the cinema in the heart of Rome. The charm of antiquity in 10 great films.
This review Free admission is a real journey through time, guests of a place where time seems to have stopped Temple of Venus and Romeannounce ten films of all genres and eras – Presented each evening by ancient history experts, writers, critics and journalists – how cinema dealt with Roman classicsin a relationship made up of fidelity and betrayal from time to time, philological attention and free inspiration, seriousness and detachment.
Told Marta Donzelli, President of the Experimental Center of Cinematography:

«Together with the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, we imagined a journey through the films that narrated the ancient world, especially the Roman one. Removed from the field of all possible philological misunderstandings, it will be an opportunity to discover how cinema saw, interpreted, used and often “distorted” history, iconography and the myths of classicism. A journey between stars old and new, ranging from American blockbusters to Italian peplums, from Fellini to Kubrick, also penetrating into comedy, musicals and children’s cinema.
With “Quo Vadis?” The Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia Foundation’s commitment continues to improve film culture in its primary form of realization: collective viewing on the big screen. This time the experience will be even more unique and extraordinary because it will take place in one of the most important places of our culture and our history.

Go on Alfonsina Russo, Director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park:

“After 45 years since the first Roman Summer conceived by Renato Nicolini in 1977, one of the most innovative experiences in the capital, inaugurated with Visconti’s film Senso in the Maxentius Basilica, the big cinema returns to the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum back, this time in the Temple of Venus and Rome.
Ten evenings of film screenings with a repertoire of history, classical antiquity and archeology in the Cell of Venus, one of Rome’s most iconic and evocative sites, recently reopened to the public after a careful restoration that was completed in 2021.
The power of cinematography in transmitting knowledge and preserving history has always been an important means of conveying and enhancing the meaning of cultural heritage.
The projection of films in the cell of the Temple of Venus with a view of the Colosseum becomes an opportunity for the encounter between the cinematic imaginary, for which antiquity was from the beginning an inexhaustible source of stories and themes, and an exceptional monument of the Roman Empire, so strongly symbolic and inspirational of beauty, is still able today, almost two thousand years after its construction, to involve the public in an emotional journey through time, in this case also thanks to the precious support of cinematic art.

These are the words of Culture Minister Dario Franceschini:

“Cinema has always had a particular look at ancient Rome, more so than any other civilization of the past, drawing heavily on history and legends. Thanks to the collaboration between the National Film Library of the Experimental Center for Cinematography and the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, this uninterrupted narrative vein, which is still alive today, is declined in its various expressions in the extraordinary context of the Temple of Venus and Rome, to give the public unrepeatable emotions “


Friday, July 1:
Hail, Caesar! (Hail, Caesar!)Joel & Ethan Coen, 2016
introduced by: Piera Detassis and Walter Veltroni

Saturday, July 2nd:
CleopatraJoseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963
introduced by: Valeria Arnaldi and Marisa Ranieri Panetta

Sunday 3 July:
The first kingMatteo Rovere, 2019
Meeting with Matteo Rovere and Alessandro Borghi moderated by Ilaria Ravarino

Monday, July 4th:
Dolci vizi al foro (Something funny happened on the way to the forum)Richard Lester, 1966
introduced by: Emanuela Martini

Tuesday, July 5:
Fellini SatyriconFederico Fellini, 1969
Introduced by: Steve Della Casa and Marisa Ranieri Panetta

Wednesday July 6th:
Asterix and the Secret of the Magic Potion (Asterix: Le Secret de la Potion Magique)A. Astier, L. Clichy, 2018
introduced by: Oscar Cosulich and Andrea Schiappelli

Thursday, July 7th:
Scipio is also called the AfricanLuigi Magni, 1970
introduced by: Alberto Crespi

Friday, July 8th:
SpartacusStanley Kubrick, 1960
introduced by: Giovanni Brizzi and Paolo Di Paolo

Saturday, July 9th:
Toto and CleopatraFernando Cerchio, 1963
introduced by: Emiliano Morreale

Sunday, July 10th:
Quo vadis?Enrico Guazzoni, 1913
Musical live accompaniment by Maestro Michele Sganga
introduced by: Jerzy Miziołek and Jay Weissberg

All films are in their original language with Italian subtitles; Italian films in their original language with English subtitles.
Free admission while seats last – booking on eventbrite.it recommended
Access from Piazza del Colosseo from 8.30pm

QUO VADIS? At the cinema in the heart of Rome, he revisits more than a century of films (from 1913 to 2019) by watching ten titles (but there could have been a hundred, and in any case they would not have been enough) presented every night by Experts in ancient history, writers, critics and journalists, traces of the irresistible charm that ancient Rome has always exerted on cinema. An attraction that translates into an almost inexhaustible filmography, populated by emperors and queens, legionnaires and philosophers, slaves and centurions, gladiators and vestal virgins. From the founding of the city to the invasions of the barbarians, from the last days of Pompeii to the fall of the empire, from the rape of the Sabines to the early years of Christianity, from the Colosseum to the most distant provinces, there is no season, episode, Place, character – mythical or real – that was not brought to the screen.
But there is more: because if it is true that in cinema, as in an often superficial but effective bignami, we can “flick through” the history of the Rome of the Caesars, many of these titles allow us to review some crucial points 20th century industrial cinema. Century: In a program that does not claim to be complete, one finds – to name just two examples – neither Henry Koster’s Tunic (1953), the first Cinemascope in history, nor William Wyler’s Ben-Hur, the one from the top of their 11 statuettes since 1959 topping the list of Oscar winners (equalled, never surpassed, only decades later). But as turning points, two blockbusters distant in time, space and commercial could not be missing, both able to mark their time indelibly: Quo vadis? Stumm by Enrico Guazzoni, whose extraordinary success overseas finally cleansed the format of the feature film as we know it today – we are in 1913; and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s ravishing (and long-maligned) Cleopatra, starring Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, which brought Fox to the brink of bankruptcy and heralded the end of the Hollywood studio system in 1963 (kinda like – the gods and historians forgive). us the comparison – the fall of the Western Roman Empire is given by convention as AD 476).
If Cleopatra ends the fate of a genre (for a return to the glories of the past we’ll have to wait for the new millennium with Ridley Scott’s Il Gladiator; while Matteo Rovere returns to the origins of the myth in Italy in 2019 with Il Gladiator primo re), unleashed the Review opening film, Ave, Cesare! by Joel & Ethan Coen, evokes the dawn of the golden years and plays a homage to the Hollywood of “sandals” in 1951, with George Clooney’s converted centurion at the foot of the cross while the specter of McCarthyism looms on the stages; the same McCarthyism that, at the height of his career, had forced one of the great screenwriters of the time, Dalton Trumbo, to work in the shadows, and it could only be he who signed on in 1960, despite many disagreements with protagonist and producer Kirk Douglas, who most adult and “revolutionary” of the Roman blockbusters, Spartacus by Stanley Kubrick. The decade closes in 1969 with the foray into ancient Rome by another great author, Federico Fellini, playing the Petronius Arbiter in the Satyricon with a freedom unprecedented (rather than epigonal) in the tradition of historical cinema. Not that there hadn’t been a lack of unorthodox new interpretations in the previous years: in 1966, the “director of the Beatles” Richard Lester brought a bizarre Plautian musical to the cinema with Dolci vizi al foro, which he once again proves – thanks to songs by Stephen Sondheim, but especially to Zero Mostel and Buster Keaton’s rehearsals – how peplum and humor can coexist perfectly. We have already been taught by Goscinny and Uderzo, inventors of history’s funniest roosters (for the little ones we present the latest cartoon in the series, Asterix and the Mystery of the Magic Potion by Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy), and two prove it the Italian titles on the programme: Totò and Cleopatra by Fernando Cerchio, with the Prince of Laughing in the dual role of an unlikely Marco Antonio and his double Totonno, in an ‘instantaneous’ parody of the aforementioned Cleopatra; and Scipione, aka Luigi Magni’s Afrikaner, who satirizes the perpetual vices of Roman politics with a stellar cast (Marcello Mastroianni and his brother Ruggero, major editor here in the unprecedented role of co-star, Vittorio Gassman, Silvana Mangano). As if one could already read everything in history, in myth, in Latin literature that would have been. Cinema included.

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