Quo Vadis (1913 film)

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Quo Vadis
Quo Vadis poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Enrico Guazzoni
Written by Enrico Guazzoni
Based on Quo Vadis
by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Starring Amleto Novelli, Gustavo Serena, Lea Rushes, Bruno Castellani, Carlo Cattaneo, Lia Orlandini, Amelia Cattaneo, Augustus Mastripietri, Andrea Serena, Olga Brandini, Ignazio Lupi, Caesar Moltroni, John Gizzi, and Ida Carloni Talli
Distributed by George Kleine (USA)
Release date
  • March 1913 (1913-03)
Running time
120 minutes
Country Italy
Language Silent
Film still

Quo Vadis is an Italian film made directed by Enrico Guazzoni for Cines in 1913, based on the 1896 novel of the same name written by Henryk Sienkiewicz. It was arguably the first blockbuster in the history of cinema, with 5,000 extras, lavish sets, and a running time of two hours, setting the standard for "superspectacles" for decades to come.

A worldwide success, it premiered in Germany at the opening night of the Ufa-Pavillon am Nollendorfplatz (Berlin's first purpose-built, free-standing cinema), on 19 March 1913. In an unusual departure from normal cinematic practice, the crowd scenes were reinforced with "special mobs" of live costumed actors in the auditorium.[3][5]

Quo Vadis was the first film to be projected in a first-class Broadway theater (the Astor Theatre), where it was screened for nine months from April to December 1913. The film's first screening in London was for King George V, in the Royal Albert Hall, who complimented the performers.

Another Italian director, Giovanni Pastrone, would direct Cabiria (1914) – which holds many similarities with Quo Vadis, but is longer, more thematically complex, and visually spectacular.


The story is set during the early years of rule by the emperor Nero. He is an ambitious man obsessed with gaining absolute power. His soldier falls in love with a young Christian slave named Lycia, but their love is hindered by Nero, who hates Christianity and unleashes his officers to burn Rome, pinning the blame on the Christians. In addition, the cruel Nero kidnaps the pair and sends them into an arena to fight lions.


Tinted still from an American advertisement

Other versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patrick Lucanio. With fire and sword: Italian spectacles on American screens, 1958-1968. Scarecrow Press, 1994. ISBN 9780810828162. 
  2. ^ Riccardo Redi. La Cines: storia di una casa di produzione italian. Persiani Editore, 2009. ISBN 9788896013045. 
  3. ^ "Berlin crazy on film shows". New York Times. (Free PDF). 23 March 1913. p. 4c?. 
  4. ^ Lichtbild-Bühne, Nr. 26, 16 May 1914 (in German) at filmportal.de
  5. ^ This practice seems to have begun with The Miracle, the world's first full-colour feature-length film which opened in London in December 1912 and in New York in April 1913. The US rights were owned by Al. Woods, an international theatre impresario who was also involved in the building of the Nollendorf Theatre in Berlin. The Miracle, with similar crowds of live costumed actors in the auditorium, opened in another Berlin cinema originally leased by Woods, the Ufa-Palast am Zoo, in May 1914.[4]


  • The Peplum in the days of silent cinema, 1, ch. of "Cinema Peplum" Dominic Cammarota, "Future essays" n. 14, and. Fanucci, '87, p. 15th
  • The Dictionary of film Mereghetti-2002-cards, ed. Baldini & Castoldi, 2001, p. 1711.

External links[edit]