This paper presents a history of casting and explores why casting is important to our understanding of cinema. Throughout the history of film production, there has not been a discernible standard casting process. This is indicative of a general lack of interest in casting since the advent of film. Instead, casting practices operated as a series of phases which corresponded with and were influenced by contemporary trends in cinema. In the earliest days of film, the focus of cinematic inventors such as Thomas Edison and the Lumière Brothers lay on technological innovation and the ability to produce unprecedented visual effects rather than on storytelling and acting ability. This initial lack of interest in casting persisted until films increased in length and film narratives increased in complexity, populated with equally complex characters. Facilitated by technological advancements, this newfound focus ushered in a new stage in the history of casting where the quality of acting became increasingly important. Screen stars of the 1910s shed their initial anonymity and studios began cultivating stables of stars in order to capitalise on their marquee value. The control of the Hollywood studio system persisted for several years but eventually collapsed, allowing stars to exercise greater autonomy in choosing roles. The evolution of the casting process and the gradual prominence of stars had a direct impact on who was cast in films. These developments can be traced in the emerging genres of epic and peplum films set in ancient Rome. This paper draws on the character type of a strongman hero as a case study to illustrate why the intricacies and development of the casting process are important to the history of cinema abstracts.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

View seminar program

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at https://alumni.uq.edu.au/friends-of-antiquity