Imagining Ancient Cities on Film
From Babylon to Cinecittà
Routledge – 2015 – 232 pages
In film imagery, urban spaces show up not only as spatial settings of a story, but also as projected ideas and forms that aim to recreate and capture the spirit of cultures, societies and epochs. Some cinematic cities have even managed to transcend fiction to become part of modern collective memory. Can we imagine a futuristic city not inspired at least remotely by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis? In the same way, ancient Babylon, Troy and Rome can hardly be shaped in popular imagination without conscious or subconscious references to the striking visions of Griffiths’ Intolerance, Petersen’s Troy and Scott’s Gladiator, to mention only a few influential examples. Imagining Ancient Cities on Film explores for the first time in scholarship film representations of cities of the Ancient World from early cinema to the 21st century.
The volume analyzes the different choices made by filmmakers, art designers and screen writers to recreate ancient urban spaces as more or less convincing settings of mythical and historical events. In looking behind and beyond intended archaeological accuracy, symbolic fantasy, primitivism, exoticism and Hollywood-esque monumentality, this volume pays particular attention to the depiction of cities as faces of ancient civilizations, but also as containers of moral ideas and cultural fashions deeply rooted in the contemporary zeitgeist and in continuously revisited traditions.
"Charting a century and more of film and television, this adventurous and timely critical survey will be an invaluable companion for anyone interested in how, and why, modern cultures represent the ancient world in the ways that they do." – Gideon Nisbet, University of Birmingham, UK
1. Introduction: Cinematic Cityscapes and the Ancient Past Filippo Carlà, Marta García Morcillo, Óscar Lapeña Marchena 2. Babylon Before and After Intolerance Michael Seymour 3. The Cities of Pharaonic Egypt in Film S. Caramello and E. Guzzon 4. City of God: Ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land in Cinema Leonardo Gregoratti 5. From Ithaca to Troy: The Homeric City in Cinema Francisco Salvador Ventura 6. Identifying Greece: The Re-presentation and Re-creation of Ancient Greek Cities Pauline Hanesworth 7. City of Lights and Dreams: Ancient Alexandria on Screen Nacho García 8. The Rise and Fall of an African Metropolis: Ancient Carthage in Film and Visual Culture Marta García Morcillo 9. From Village to Empire: Ancient Rome in Film Alberto Prieto Arciniega 10. Triumph and Spectacle: Inventing the Ancient City of Rome on Screen Monica Silveira Cyrino 11. Dust and Destruction: Pompeii in Cinema Charo Rovira 12. Luxury and Decadence: Images of the Late Antique and Early Byzantine City Filippo Carlà 13. Barbaricum: The Civilization of the Wild Martin Lindner 14. Atlantis and the Imagined City Óscar Lapeña Marchena
Óscar Lapeña Marchena is Professor in Ancient History at the Universidad de Cádiz, Spain.
Marta García Morcillo is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK.
Pauline Hanesworth is Lecturer in the School of Classics at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK.