(Nazimova Productions, USA, 1922)
dir.: Charles Bryant; script: Alla Nazimova (as Peter M. Winters) based on the play Salomé by Oscar Wilde; photog.: Charles J. Van Enger
cast: Alla Nazimova (Salomé), Mitchell Lewis (Herod), Rose Dione (Herodias), Earl Schenck (Narraboth), Nigel De Brulier (Jokanaan), Arthur Jasmine (Page of Herodias) 

  DCP, 73’; tinted; intertitles: EN, subtitles: PL; restored 2015; source: Lobster Films

I century AD – another feast is taking place in the court of King Herod. The Tetrarch has long been under the spell of his stepdaughter Salomé, a beautiful girl who, bored with the feast, decides to take a stroll around the palace. Suddenly, she hears the prophet Jokanaan, who is imprisoned in the dungeon. Fascinated by his words and voice, she asks the captain of the guard, Narraboth, who is in love with her, to meet the prisoner. He agrees. But she wants more than just a meeting...

One of the first artistic American films which referred to the European avant-garde tradition, this is a cult piece today for many. Stylistically sophisticated, even eccentric, it is a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s famous play (which had been banned in Great Britain) and a reinterpretation of the well-known biblical story.

The figure of the beautiful dancer who demands the head of John the Baptist for her performance had long fascinated artists, from Rubens to Caravaggio, but interest in her story grew particularly in the early decades of the 20th century. This was also evident in cinema: in 1908 a film inspired by Wilde’s play was made by J. Stuart Blackton, and a decade later J. Gordon Edwards cast the famous vamp Theda Bara as Salomé.

This auteur version by Alla Nazimova – producer, screenwriter, actress and unofficial co-director – remains the most interesting and most controversial adaptation of the play. Salomé was the fourth work created in collaboration with the actress and stage designer Natacha Rambova. Her set design and costumes, modelled on the illustrations by pre-Raphaelite artist Aubrey Beardsley for the first British edition of Wilde’s play, create a powerful artistic vision, which remains the greatest asset of this artistically risky film. Although a small-scale and intimate film, it was still expensive, and the aura of scandal which accompanied it (rumours abounded about its exclusively homosexual cast) caused the premiere to be delayed. Ultimately deemed too experimental for contemporary viewers, it had a limited distribution and didn’t achieve any great measure of success. It effectively ended Nazimova’s career as an independent producer and also announced the end of her acting career. (KW)

  Salomé was restored in 2K by Lobster Films from a decomposing print, and the only surviving source of the film, preserved at the Library of Congress. The print was discovered by David Shepard, film preservationist and restorer.

  introduction to the movie: Iga Harasimowicz


  music by: Marek „Latarnik” Pędziwiatr

  | screening room: STOLICA

  • SALOMÉ, source: Lobster Films

  • SALOMÉ, source: Lobster Films