“She is like a woman rising from a tomb. She is like a dead woman. One might fancy she was looking for dead things.” — Salome, by Oscar Wilde
This vision of Salome remains more or less intact to the present day. Exemplified in Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” of 1894, which was so iconic and archetypal that almost any version of Salome that has been done in the past hundred years is either a direct descendent — or a bastard child. Wilde explored the beauty of heightened biblical language to exquisite effect. The rhythm of the play reverberates long after the words were spoke. Oscar doesn¹t invent anything new; he merely draws on centuries of church repressed sex, expressed thru the pantomime of ritual assassinations. Especially poignant to the Victorian English, as they were the most socially repressed of all.
Alla Nazimova produced and starred in the first film adaptation of Wilde’s play, the sets and costumes inspired by Beardsley’s illustrations. Silent.