LEGEND OF KING MIDAS, THE
(Louis Feuillade, 1910, France, 12m, BW)
La légende de Midas
La légende de Midas (1910)
Release Date: 26 February 1910 (USA)
Production Co: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Director: Louis Feuillade
Run Time: 12 minutes
The story of King Midas is a myth about the tragedy of avarice and narrates what happens when true happiness is not recognized. Midas was a man who wished that everything he touched would turn into gold. However, he had not thought that this wish was not actually a blessing, but a curse. His greed invites us to think and realize the consequences that may lead us to become slaves of our own desires. The phrase the Midas touch comes from this myth and is used to say that somebody has a good fortune.
Early cinema’s attitudes towards colour manifest themselves in representations of classical antiquity in the period between 1905 and 1911, a period of intense technological and aesthetic experimentation. The use of colour in films of this period participates in larger debates around polychromy and monochromy in Western art, debates for which classical antiquity has always served as both a backdrop and a stage. The chromatic worlds of silent cinema juxtapose an aesthetic preference for firm lines and contours that are colourless, pure and remote and an aesthetic preference for vibrant colours that are striking, hybrid, and immersive – in other words an antiquity of contemplation and an antiquity of the senses.
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.
Rare silent films set in ancient Greece and Rome, all of which survive in the British National Film Archive, include:
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)
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