Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

An evening at the (silent) movies: Antony and Cleopatra

Posted on: May 24, 2015

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Winona Republican Herald Ad, October 26, 1915

Winona’s Municipal Band is celebrating it’s centennial!   The celebration began with a showing of Antony and Cleopatra, a silent film produced in 1913 and first shown in Winona in 1915.   What’s the connection?

The big production a score composed by George Colburn, the band’s original director who later worked for the Chicago symphony. The composition is one of America’s “first feature length” original scores.”

 Antony and Cleopatra was filmed on location in Egypt and Italy, part of a trilogy produced by Enrico Guazzoni that included Qua Vadis and The Last Day of Pompeii

This was my first full-length silent movie; I was surprised by the huge cast, elaborate costumes, big epic scenes, barges, and animals – wild cats, a camel and alligators. Title cards helped the audience understood the love story and war between Egypt and Rome. My favorite scene was “The long silent march” depicting Roman soldiers landing in Egypt. They kept landing and marching forever.  (I thought of D-Day.  Wonderful, non-stop music played on a Steinway Grand  by Professor James Doering from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia added to film’s mood and the evening’s fun.

Winonans first viewed Antony and Cleopatra in 1915 at the Winona Opera House. Composer Colburn conducted a 15-piece orchestra. Admission was 15 cents. We saw the movie at the Winona County History Center. Part of the museum is housed in the former Winona Armory, also celebrating its 100th birthday!


Winona Municipal Band Website
Antony and Cleopatra: cast and references
Winona Newspaper Archive
Winona Republican Herald, October 26, 1915   Advertisement
Winona Republican Herald October 27, 1915 Movie Review

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