Feature Drama | 1910 | Silent | B/W
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Quo Vadis 1913 Ancient Rome. Persecution of Christians.
Scene begins half way through a shot with a Roman man in a toga falling to the ground, Rome is burning around him and smoke billows, a group of men rush to pick him up and exit, one of them carries a spade. A large arched building to the rear has smoke pouring from it and fires burn in front. A group of men carrying tools walk past the scene, a younger man comforts a short older man (who is either called Petrone or Chilon).
Two intertitles (IT) in French.
Four men in togas, possibly Roman senators stand at the top of some steps with columns on either side in heated discussion with each other, beyond them is a line of soldiers with spears and columns, beyond them an unruly mob shaking hands, probably because Rome is burning.
IT 'Nero was frightened'. The Emperor Nero stands on a balcony looking down (presumably at the mob we have just seen), he holds his lyre, hangers on are behind him. Interior of a palace, curtains open, servants enter followed by soldiers. Scene cuts to black.
Catacombs - hunched old man we saw earlier talks to the young man we saw earlier, they are Christians, they move off down a tunnel followed by others. A group huddle around a man holding a staff, preaching, he is probably the apostle Saint Peter: the old and young man arrive and the old man points at St Peter, the Christians hold their hands up in praise. The younger man kneels down in front of Peter.
IT, 'Master, baptize me, I love your Christ and am ready to do his bidding.'
Peter points to the heavens and bids the man to rise.
IT 'Love men like your brother, that is how you can serve him.'
Peter blesses everyone and the Christians bow their heads. A dark shot of the group walking along a dark catacomb tunnel. (Followed by a few frames of an intertitle and an edit.)
An old man in fur talks to a younger fancilly dressed man in toga and cape, people who are possibly imprisoned Christians lie on the floor to their left, the younger man (we will call him Toga Man) kisses the older man on the head and leaves.
IT 'From dawn the crowd heard with profound joy the roar of the big cats.'
Cut to the Coliseum, chariots race towards us, crowds of spectators wave from atop a wall to the left and we can see more of the audience in the distance. One chariot pulled by four horses carrying one man rides up to the Emperor's 'box' by the side of the arena floor, he is carrying laurels of victory, he drives off.
IT 'The gladiators are acclaimed by the people'
Three lines of gladiators walk across the arena, some have helmets and swords, some have tridents. They walk to the Imperial box and raise their weapons in salute.
IT 'Hail Caesar, those who are about to die salute you.' The gladiators march off. The crowd wave on the stands. A gladiator with a large helmet and a short sword fights another with a net and trident, others watch from the rear, one thrusts with his sword. Nero and friends in their box lap it up. Trident gladiator is injured on the ground, the one with the sword stands on him, he is victorious. Another view of the same with the fallen man raising his arm in supplication. Nero gives the thumbs down. Brief shot of the first gladiator stabbing the second with his sword.
Nero and friends chat in the box, Toga Man enters from right and speaks to one of the others. IT 'I can't find Lygie.' They look unhappy.
Cut to Christians in the ampitheatre looking woeful and distressed although one stands in the centre looking calm and defiant. A closer view, they cry and hug each other. A long shot of a group of lions running across the arena towards the Christians. Nero and cronies laugh and point. The lions feed on the corpses of the Christians. Nero points this out to a woman at his side. Lions tear at the dead bodies. Nero again. View from the side of Nero and hangers on.
IT of Nero saying,'Hey Petrone, do you like this feast?' The old man, seen earlier with St. Peter is standing there, he is upset at the carnage.
IT 'Be happy Chilon, your work is done.'
The old man is shown the arena floor. Lions fight over pieces of meat. Old man collapses to the floor , he is picked up and carried off.
IT 'A furious kicking bull with a woman attached.' a kicking bull enters the arena with a woman tied to its back. Nero watches.
IT 'Lygie…its Lygie!', Toga Man's companion cries, Toga Man puts his toga over his head!
IT 'On the arena a man suddenly appears'. He is a large man with a beard, he looks confused. The bucking bull. Large man sees it. Nero watches excitedly.
IT 'Rome has never seen anything like it.'
The big man grabs the bull by the head. Nero again. The man wrestles with the bull's head. Nero and his courtiers gaze on. The bull is brought to the ground. The crowd go wild. The crowd roar. Toga Man jumps from Nero's box onto the arena floor. The big man carries Lygie off. The crowd cheer. Toga man begs for Lygie's life as the big man carries her. The crowd shout to Nero. Toga Man and big man approach the box. Film suddenly ends.
There now follows another section of same extract but without titles, it is shorter but includes some shots not in main extract.
Saint Peter's blessing in the catacombs. Gladiators line up. Crowd in arena and Gladiators salute. A longer sequence of the two gladiators fighting in hand to hand combat. Nero and others talking in the box. Christians in captivity and Roman soldiers dragging them off to the lions. Coliseum staff marshalling the lions. Christians being led by soldiers onto the arena floor. Nero and friends. Good shot of lions emerging into the arena and approaching the Christians. The christians quake in fear. Nero in the box. Lions with meat. Nero again. Two lions rip at one piece of meat. Nero. Bucking bull sequence as before.
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