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The Dumb Girl of Portici has been long overdue for recognition as one of pioneer filmmaker Lois Weber s finest creations and a landmark in women's cinema. The blockbuster film was Universal's most expensive to date and featured an enormous cast, large-scale sets, and an ambitious story. For Weber, The Dumb Girl of Portici represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with the incomparable prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Pavlova was appearing with the Boston Opera Company in D. F. E. Auber s 1829 La Muette de Portici, portraying Fenella, a wordless fisher-girl living during the Spanish occupation of Naples in the mid-17th century,who is seduced and abandoned by a Spanish nobleman. In the opera and in Weber's stirring drama, the betrayal of Fenella and the oppression of her people inspire her brother to foment a revolution.