Peplum

   Genre. Derived from the Latin term for the small over-the-shoulder tunic often worn in these films, peplum was the name given to the popular sword-and-sandal genre that flourished in Italy in the late 1950s. Some 180 such films were made in Italy between 1957 and 1965, when the genre rapidly waned and was replaced by an even more prolific genre, the Italian, or so-called spaghetti Western.
   The distant origins of the peplum were undoubtedly in the historical superspectacles, or "kolossals," of the silent period, and it was no coincidence that the names of Ursus and Maciste, the muscular strongmen who had first made their appearance in Enrico Guazzoni's Quo vadis? (1912) and Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria (1914), reappeared so frequently in the titles of many classics of the genre. Its more immediate forerunners, however, were the spate of American historical and biblical spectaculars produced at Cinecitta in the early 1950s, as well as several homegrown big-budget epics such as Alessandro Blasetti's Fabiola (1949) and Mario Camerini's Ulisse (Ulysses, 1954). The peplums themselves, however, were far from big-budget productions, and the film usually credited with giving birth to the genre, Pietro Francisci's Le fatiche di Ercole (Hercules, 1957), was made for $120,000 but eventually earned $18 million. Francisci tried to repeat his winning formula, which included the hiring of a relatively inexpensive bodybuilder rather than a costly star to play the part of the muscleman superhero and concentrating on the hero's action-filled adventures rather than the rise and fall of civilizations, in Ercole e la regina di Lidia (Hercules Unchained, 1958) but by this time many others were also attempting to follow his example, with four other muscleman epics produced in 1959, 15 in 1960, and 31 in 1961.
   The directors who came to be most closely associated with the genre, in addition to Francisci himself, were Vittorio Cottafavi, who made two classics of the genre, La vendetta di Ercole (Hercules'Revenge, 1960, also known in the United States as Goliath and the Dragon) and Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide (Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis, 1961, also known in the United States as Hercules and the Captive Women); Riccardo Freda, who directed five muscleman epics including Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan (Maciste at the Court of the Great Khan, 1961, also known as Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World) and Maciste all'Inferno (Maciste in Hell, 1962, also known as The Witch's Curse); and Carlo Campogalliani, who contributed Il terrore dei barbari (Goliath and the Barbarians, 1959), Maciste nella valle dei re (Son of Samson, 1960), and Ursus (Ursus, Son of Hercules, 1961). Among other practitioners of the genre were Domenico Paolella, Sergio Corbucci, and Duccio Tessari. Mario Mattoli inflected the genre with comedy in his Maciste contro Ercole nella valle dei guai (Hercules in the Valley of Woe, 1961) and Mario Bava with horror in Ercole al centro della terra (Hercules in the Haunted World, 1961). Sergio Leone, who would be responsible for the birth of the Western genre that would soon replace the peplum, was called in to complete Mario Bonnard's foray into the genre, Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (The Last Days of Pompeii, 1959), before making his own highly regarded Il colosso di Rodi (The Colossus of Rhodes, 1961).
   The musclemen who were enlisted to impersonate the superhero, who could be called, quite interchangeably, Maciste, Hercules, Ursus, Goliath, Samson, or Colossus, were for the most part American bodybuilders, including Steve Reeves, Reg Park, Gordon Scott, Mark Forrest, Kirk Morris, Ed Fury, Dan Vadis, and Alan Steel (Sergio Ciani). And just as the hero's name could vary, the stories themselves could also be set in widely differing times and places, from Greek and Roman mythological times to the "barbaric" Middle Ages, and from Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, and the Orient to the very center of the Earth.
   Generally dismissed by serious critics and relatively short lived, the genre was nevertheless both popular and lucrative, exploiting the extensive network of Italian second- and third-run cinemas and easily accessing markets outside Italy due to the fact that many of the films were made as European or American coproductions. Despite its extraordinary success, however, the genre was already substantially on the wane in 1964 when the enormous box office receipts of Per un pugno di dollari (For a Fistful of Dollars, 1964), a Western all'Italiana directed by Bob Robertson (Sergio Leone), were already indicating a different way forward for Italian popular cinema.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Peplum — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para la túnica griega, véase Peplo. Peplum es un género fílmico que popularmente puede conceptualizarse como cine histórico de aventuras. Las películas están ambientadas en la Antigüedad, fundamentalmente greco… …   Wikipedia Español

  • péplum — [ peplɔm ] n. m. • 1606; peple 1551; lat. peplum, gr. peplon « tunique » 1 ♦ Antiq. gr. Vêtement de femme, sans manches, qui s agrafait sur l épaule. 2 ♦ Fam. Film à grand spectacle ayant pour sujet un épisode réel ou fictif de l Antiquité. « Les …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Peplum — Péplum Pour les articles homonymes, voir Péplum (homonymie). Cinéma …   Wikipédia en Français

  • PEPLUM — et indutui fuit et amictui, ut Varro loquitur et Apuleius. Iul. Pollux l. 7. c. 3. Ἔςθημα δ᾿ ἐςτὶ διπλοῦν τὴν χρείαν, ὡς ενδύναι τε καὶ ἐπιβάλλεςθαι: cuius locô vocem ἀ μφιβάλλεςθαι usurpat Lycophron in Alex. Inde veteres Graeci etiam caelum… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • péplum — Voz tomada del latín peplum (→ peplo), que significa, en el lenguaje del cine, ‘película ambientada en la Antigüedad clásica’: «Una de las variantes de mayor éxito ha sido la llamada de romanos o péplum» (Plaza/Redondo Cine [Esp. 1993]). Su… …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • peplum — PÉPLUM s.n. v. peplu. Trimis de ana zecheru, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  PÉPLUM s.n. v. peplu. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN …   Dicționar Român

  • péplum — (Del lat. peplum, peplo, y este del gr. πέπλος). m. Cinem. Película ambientada en la Antigüedad clásica …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Peplum — Pep lum, n.; pl. E. { lumus}, L. { la}. [L.] A peplos. Hence: An overskirt hanging like an ancient peplos; also, a short fitted skirt attached to a waist or coat. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Peplum — oder Peplos, siehe Panathenäum …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • péplum — ou péplon (pé plum ou pé plon) s. m. Terme d antiquité. Grand et large vêtement, à beaucoup de plis, du tissu le plus fin et le plus léger, ordinairement à riche broderie ; il se mettait par dessus les autres pièces d habillement, il n… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Peplum — In Ancient Greece, a close fitting gown extending from the neck to the feet, corresponding to the Roman Palla. It was often decorated with embroidery or woven colours and fastened on the shoulders by means of brooches and worn by women. The term… …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.