Quo Vadis? is a 1912 film directed by Enrico Guazzoni, based on the 1896 novel of the same name. 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 was the first film to be projected in a first-class Broadway theater, where it was screened for nine months from April to December 1913. The film's first screening in London was for King George V, 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.