Cabiria was a spectacular Italian historical epic, running a full 14 reels (nearly three hours) at a time when most American films were still short subjects. The plot hinges on the abduction of wealthy and virginal Cabiria (Lidia Quaranta) by pirates during the Roman/Carthaginian War of ancient times. Highlights (many of which were filmed on tinted stock) include the burning of the Roman fleet, an effect accomplished with miniatures and mirrors, and Hannibal's crossing of the Alps--with real Alps, and real elephants. Though the film is breathtaking in its scope, the acting is something else again; one critic of the time likened the performances to "the moment after someone yells 'Fire!'" Even so, the success of Cabiria in the United States allegedly inspired D.W. Griffith to proceed with his own historical epic, The Birth of A Nation.