Dumb Girl of Portici: Lois Weber Collaboration with Legendary Dancer

The Dumb Girl of Portici is one of pioneer filmmaker Lois Weber’s finest features and a landmark in women’s cinema. It was Universal’s most expensive to date, featuring enormous cast and large-scale sets.

For Weber, The Dumb Girl of Portici represented an opportunity to work with the prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova.

Pavlova was appearing with the Boston Opera Company in D. F. E. Auber’s 1829 La Muette de Portici, portraying Fenella, a wordless fisher-girl living during the Spanish occupation of Naples in the mid-17th century, who is seduced and abandoned by a Spanish nobleman.

In the opera and in Weber’s drama, the betrayal of Fenella and the oppression of her people inspire her brother to become a revolutionary.

The Dumb Girl of Portici has been out of distribution for years.  This restoration, with a new score by acclaimed composer John Sweeney, offers audiences a showcase for the energy, brilliance, and joint talents of Pavlova and Weber.

Bonus Features:

  • The Immortal Swan, 1935 feature documentary by Pavlova’s partner Victor D’Andre with amazing footage of the great ballerina
  • Anna Pavlova in Newsreels
  • Anna Pavlova’s own 9.5mm home movies!
  • Films of Anna Pavlova dancing her most famous roles