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'The pleasures and punishments of Roman error: Emperor Elagabalus at the court of early cinema'

Wyke, Maria Del Carmen; (2017) 'The pleasures and punishments of Roman error: Emperor Elagabalus at the court of early cinema'. In: Roman error: Classical reception and the problem of Rome's flaws. Oxford University Press: Oxford, United Kingdom. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Early cinema, Wyke argues, struggled to balance the competing claims of moral purpose and entertainment where the legacy of Roman error was concerned. At the same time, cinema also sought to redefine and outperform other modes of classical reception (such as theatre, opera, painting and the novel). Through a close examination of the French film Héliogabale, ou l’orgie romaine (Elagabolus, or the Roman Orgy), Wyke reveals how this dynamic plays out in the case of the boy-ruler viewed by tradition as the worst of Roman emperors. While the film’s concluding punishment of the emperor by a virile praetorian guard evokes contemporary French discourses of regeneration out of national decline, The Roman Orgy also displays an internal conflict in lingering pleasurably over Elegabolus’s transgressions. In this, its central character becomes device for cinematic mise en abyme, a technique that reflects the broader cultural debate over cinema in France.

Type: Book chapter
Title: 'The pleasures and punishments of Roman error: Emperor Elagabalus at the court of early cinema'
ISBN-13: 9780198803034
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Early French cinema, classical reception, cinema, Elagabalus, Heliogabale ou l'orgie romaine.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1534518

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