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Quo vadis

Quo vadis?

Enrico Guazzoni / IT, 1912

That the art of painting can be a source of inspiration for the cinema is evident from the silent film classic Quo vadis?, for which the director drew on the paintings of Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Screened on the occasion of Alma-Tadema – Classical Charm, the widely acclaimed exhibition in the Fries Museum.

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On 1 October an exhibition of works by the British-Dutch painter opened in the Fries Museum. Alma-Tadema – Classical Charm offers an overview of the career of the artist who achieved fame with his luscious and graceful evocations of scenes from Classical Antiquity.

Not only Ridley Scott drew inspiration from Alma-Tadema for the art direction of his spectacle film Gladiator. Almost a century earlier, the Italian director Enrico Guazzoni preceded him in drawing on the painter”s rich oeuvre.

For Quo vadis?, the film that has been dubbed “the first blockbuster in film history”, Guazzoni carefully studied Alma-Tadema”s use of depth and props. For this story of the developing love between a Roman patrician and a Christian slave woman under the rule of emperor Nero, the sets and decoration had to evoke a classical atmosphere as convincingly as possible.

Quo vadis? was restored by EYE using nitrate copies from several European film archives. EYE programmer and composer Martin de Ruiter provided a new score for this new screening of Quo vadis? based on the opera Quo vadis? (1909) by Jean Nouguès.

The screening will be introduced by film historian Dr Ivo Blom of the Department of Comparative Arts & Media Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Blom also compiled the accompanying film programme for the exhibition in the Fries Museum Leeuwarden.



Enrico Guazzoni

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Original title

Quo vadis?




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