Although not as much of a cinematic landmark as the 1913 version of Quo Vadis?, this 1924 Italian adaptation of the Henryk Sienkiewicz best-seller was a splendidly lavish production, not to mention a worldwide box-office success. The basic story of Emperor Nero's politically motivated persecution of the early Christians, and of the "conversion" of an agnostic Roman warrior via the love of a virtuous Christian girl, was as usual subordinated to spectacle, especially in the "burning of Rome" scenes and the climactic carnage in the gladiatorial arena. Emil Jannings, to whom subtlety was a stranger, tackles the role of Nero with lusty abandon, making this already larger-than-life historical personality even more so. The subsequent Hollywood popularity of Emil Jannings prompted a reissue of <I>Quo Vadis?</I> in 1929, reportedly with a newly recorded musical score.
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