Ordinarily, even for silent film buffs, an archive finding a few scraps of century-old nitrate might not be considered newsworthy, but when Theda Bara's name is involved, that's a story. We're talking about one of the most pivotal stars in the history of film, credited with creating the vamp trope, of a sexually-alluring woman who preys on men, as derived from and which subsequnetly transformed depictions of vampires and eventually became the characters of the flapper and, then, the femme fatale, and we've only got, what, three or four feature films left. I've seen two of them, one from the beginning of her stardom, "A Fool There Was" (1915), and another from the end, "The Unchastened Woman" (1925). There's an entire body of work in the middle there that's just gone now, and, as anyone who has seen publicity stills and other remnants from those lost films knows, that was some sexy body of work, as featured in characteristically exotic and revealing costumes. So, when even a couple minutes of one of those lost films, in this case "Salome," are discovered, it's worth celebrating. Hearing the news on the first day of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival and only a couple days after the inaugural Silent Movie Day, it's quite the gift.
The film fragment was found in the National Spanish Film Archive and apparently by an intern, who naturally and deservedly bragged about it on Reddit. Anyways, as for the film itself, as opposed to a chopped off head, so to speak, it appears to be a compilation of shots and title cards from scenes throughout the film like those one might find in a movie trailer. I would guess it might've been a bit of cannibalism for another film originally. Regardless, it's a tantalizing and colorful glimpse. Both a cause for celebration and for mourning the entirety of the film and the many more we no longer have, lost to time and neglect, if not outright destruction, or as in the case of Bara and the Fox studio where she worked, lost in a vault fire.
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