The Getty Villa
The Ancient World in Silent Cinema
Date: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Admission: Free; a ticket is required. Call Getty Visitor Services at (310) 440-7300 or use the "Get Tickets" button below.
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In the earliest days of cinema, more than 800 films drew their inspiration from ancient Mediterranean cultures, history, and society. With the exception of a handful now available on DVD or screened at film festivals, most of these works have been largely forgotten. Ranging from historical and mythological epics to burlesques, animated cartoons, documentaries and adaptations of Greek drama, these films all suggest an interest in the ancient world. Today more than 300 of these early films survive in archival collections in 26 countries, and digital technology has created new possibilities to access and transmit early cinema, allowing a reconsideration of silent films as a culturally and aesthetically dynamic medium.

Pantelis Michelakis, senior lecturer in classics at the University of Bristol, and Maria Wyke, professor and chair of Latin at the University College London, screen a selection of rare silent films set in ancient Greece and Rome, all of which survive in the British National Film Archive. The films will be accompanied on the piano by Andrew Earle Simpson, composer and professor of music at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

La Légende de Midas (France, 1910, directed by Louis Feuillade, 12 minutes)

La Caduta di Troia (Italy, 1910, directed by Giovanni Pastrone and Romano Luigi Borgnetto, 29 minutes)

The Private Life of Helen of Troy (United States, 1927, directed by Alexander Korda, 5 minute fragment).

Julius Caesar (United States, 1908, directed by William V. Ranous, 14 minutes)

Cléopatre (France, 1910, directed by Ferdinand Zecca and Henri Andréani, 15 minutes)

A Roman Scandal (United States, 1924, directed by Bud Fisher, 6 minutes)


About Pantelis Michelakis
Pantelis Michelakis is a senior lecturer in classics in the department of classics and ancient history at the University of Bristol, England. His research focuses on the fields of Greek literature and culture and the classical tradition with particular interest in Greek tragedy and its reception on stage and screen. He is the author of Achilles in Greek Tragedy and Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis. He has also co-edited Homer, Tragedy and Beyond: Essays in Honour of P.E. Easterling and Agamemnon in Performance, 456 B.C.–A.D. 2003. Michelakis is currently working on a book about the reception of Greek tragedy in cinema and on articles about the performance history of Greco-Roman drama.

About Maria Wyke
Maria Wyke is professor and chair of Latin in the department of Greek and Latin at University College London, England. She studied classics at Oxford University and then at Cambridge University, where she received her Ph.D. in Latin literature. Her research interests include ancient gender and sexuality, reception studies, Rome on film, and classics and popular culture. In 1990 Wyke began research into the representation of Roman history in American and Italian cinema, which resulted in the book Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema and History, and has further researched the reception of antiquity in broader contexts. With Dr. Michelakis, she is currently involved in a long-term research project and publication dedicated to archiving and documenting the ancient world in silent cinema.

Andrew Earle Simpson
About Andrew Earle Simpson
Andrew Earle Simpson, composer, pianist, and organist, is associate professor at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A composer of opera, silent film, orchestral, chamber, and choral pieces, Simpson explores how music interacts with other arts, both in concert and on stage. He is house accompanist for the Library of Congress’s Mt. Pony Theatre, and has performed original film scores at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy; Sala Cecília Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; and many other venues. Simpson is cofounder of the Snark Ensemble, a group devoted to creating and performing new scores for silent film and theater.

How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.