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The Dumb Girl of Portici     cover image

The Dumb Girl of Portici 2016

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Milestone Films & Video, PO Box 128, Harrington Park, NJ 07640-0128; 800-603-1104
Produced by Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley
Directed by Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley
DVD, color and b/w, 112 min. plus bonus disc

General Adult
Film, Dance

Date Entered: 04/19/2018

Reviewed by Barb Kundanis, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

The Dumb Girl of Portici is a silent film from 1916 starring ballerina Anna Pavlova and adapted for the screen by Lois Weber that has been beautifully restored. The Library of Congress, New York Public Library and the British Film Institute all were involved in this project. The film is based on an opera by Daniel Auber called La Muette de Portici.

The film, mostly in sepia tone with color tinting in yellow, blue and red, is well worth watching if just for the opportunity to see Pavlova dance. One group dance sequence before the Viceroy is particularly striking for its choreography. Pavlova is very expressive throughout and it is fortunate that this has been preserved to see the star in action.

In addition, there is a second disc with bonus features. Included are The Immortal Swan (a tribute to Pavlova), various short excerpts of her dancing, home movies and newsreels. This DVD set is an archival treasure for viewing the ballerina and giving background to the legend. It will be especially appealing to those interested in the history of film and dance.