Delia Gonzalez’s “The Last Days of Pompeii” and “Pompei@Madre. Materia Archeologica”
              Barbara Casavecchia
              I had forgotten about The Day After until the North Korea/US missile crisis brought it back to mind with a bang. Aired in November 1983, the American TV movie terrified over 100 million viewers with its graphic images of a nuclear conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, leading to the manmade destruction of humanity. The poster image of the giant mushroom cloud, towering over the horizon, was everywhere. Maybe every era has a different cloud to fear, the current one being the capitalized Cloud propelled by Capitalism. And maybe that’s why the cloud “like an umbrella pine” that erupted from Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and buried Pompeii under flaming rocks, pumice, ash, and sulfur gases still fascinates us. As evergreen disaster story and hyperfictionalized icon of a past apocalypse, it exorcises our fears of termination. Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei [The Last Days of Pompeii], an Italian silent movie directed in 1913 by Mario Caserini and Eleuterio Rodolfi, was one of the first “Kolossals” of the disaster genre. It opens with a view of Pompeii’s busy streets, where peplum-clad citizens cross a city gate, flanked by two candid stelae. Its plot is based on a novel of the …

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