The Dumb Girl of Portici

Female filmmaking pioneer Lois Weber presents a grand opera adapted for silent film, starring the divine Anna Pavlova in her only feature film role.

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Dir-Prod-Scr Lois Weber
With Anna Pavlova, Rupert Julian, Wadsworth Harris
Sales Milestone Film & Video

Lois Weber directs ballet legend Anna Pavlova in this epic based on Auber’s opera, set against the backdrop of a 17th century Italian uprising. Pavlova plays Fenella, a mute fisher girl, caught up in the bloody revolt of the Italian peasantry against their oppressive Spanish overlords during the occupation of Naples. Lois Weber’s film tackles the scale of the grand opera settings with assurance, while allowing us to enjoy Pavlova’s exquisite physical performance, in her only feature film role. This previously unseen film is long overdue for recognition as one of Weber’s finest creations and a landmark in women’s cinema. Restored by the Library of Congress from elements held at the BFI National Archive and the New York Public Library.

Bryony Dixon

Additional information

2K restoration and editing by George Willeman and Valerie Cervantes, Library of Congress. Further restoration by Lori Raskin, An Affair with Film with Milestone Films. Materials courtesy of the BFI National Archive, Library of Congress and the New York Public Library Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne.