Original title: Salomé
(UK, 1907) Gaumont British Picture Corporation
(US, 1907) Kleine Optical Company
CategoriesBased on Opera Based on Play Based on the Bible Biblical Drama Black and White Dance Drama Herod Antipas Herodias John the Baptist John the Baptist Imprisoned Lost Film Oscar Wilde Salome Short Silent Film DramaShortBased on Opera, Based on Play, Based on the Bible, Biblical Drama, Black and White, Dance, Herod Antipas, Herodias, John the Baptist, John the Baptist Imprisoned, Lost Film, Oscar Wilde, Salome, Silent Film
This story is founded on fact, and centers round one of those powerfully dramatic incidents which abound in Biblical history.
Coincident with the birth of Jesus Christ there was born a man, John the Baptist, who was destined to play an important, though quiet, part in the history of his time. He was a man characterized by a proud indifference for the opinions of men in general, and those who set themselves up as superior to their fellow-men in particular. He was known as a prophet and a religious teacher of his time, and his teaching, and often too true and outspoken comments, had a powerful influence on the minds of his hearers, and many crowded to listen to the eccentric man clothed in camel's raiment, whose diet was locusts and wild honey.
There was living at this time a king of the Jews, He"rod by name, who, though professedly leading a religious life, was, nevertheless, living a life of secret immorality and sin. The height of his wickedness was reached when he openly took as his consort his brother Philip's lawful and undivorced wife, Herodias, a beautiful, vain and unscrupulous woman, whose life of worldliness and love of pleasure was the talk of the common people.
When the news of this unlawful union reached John the Baptist, he boldly made his way to Herod's court, forced his way to the presence of the king, and denounced him before his court for his life of sin, and Herodias for her love of vanity and worldly pleasure. For this boldness Herod cast him into prison, but being in secret fear of the righteous man he was afraid to take a more sure method of silencing John.
Herodias, however, was not content with the incarceration of John, who had thoroughly aroused all the hate and vengeful spite of her shallow nature; she wished for nothing less than his death. She pleads with the king for the head of John, and brings all her fascinating womanhood to her aid to cajole Herod into granting her wish, but is unsuccessful. However, she is not discouraged, but bides her time and waits her opportunity.
Now Herodias had a daughter, Salome, her lawful husband's child, a girl who almost excelled her mother in beauty and charm of face; added to this she had the fresh winsomeness of girlhood, and was an accomplished dancer. These qualifications in her daughter Herodias intended to use as a means to gain her cruel object. She took the girl, who, doubtless, was as heartless as her mother, into her confidence, telling her that at a certain feast she was to dance before the king, gain his approval, and wait for the issue.
The great feast arrives, and Herodias' opportunity too. In the great hall of the palace assembled a crowd of courtiers and beauties, and, as was customary after the feast, the dancers come in to amuse the Royal person and his guests. On this particular occasion there was only one dancer worthy of note—Salome. Dressed in all the brilliancy of the East, she enters the great hall, and immediately becomes the center of attraction. She puts forward the whole of her art to gain the king's approval, which she accomplishes thoroughly, for Herod, fascinated by her beauty and the bewitching, whirling motions of her wonderful dancing, for a moment loses his head and in an unguarded moment promises the girl anything she may ask, even to the half of his kingdom. This is what the mother and daughter have been working for.
Herodias instructs her daughter to demand the head of John the Baptist. She does so, and the king, although smitten with remorse, has to keep his promise, and soldiers are sent to behead John. All this has happened in the great hall.
In a few minutes the soldiers return with the noble head on a charger. Salome takes it and carries it to her mother.
Her cruel object gained, the heartless woman is filled with remorse and cringes in terror at the sight of the ghastly gift, while the whole assembly is filled with loathing and turns with shuddering from the woman who could ask so bloody a favor.
Beautifully and elaborately staged with Eastern costume, architecture and scenery, the above graphic story is arranged in the following scenes:
John the Baptist denounces Herod and his court.
John the Baptist rebukes Herodias for her life of pleasure and love of luxury.
Herodias pleads for the head of John.
Salome dances before Herod and obtains the head of John on a charger.
Source: Gaumont Catalogue