Saint Anthony at the movies

Perhaps the ultimate and most underrated dream vision (underrated because it is not recognized as a dream vision) in the history of Western literature is the The Temptation of St. Anthony, here [1] painted by Domenico Morelli as Le Tentazioni di Sant’Antonio, also the title of an Italian film of 1911 which depicts Flaubert’s version.

Domenico Morelli - Le tentazioni di Sant'Antonio by you.

[1] painted by Domenico Morelli as Le Tentazioni di Sant’Antonio,

Saint Anthony has not been popular among writers nor filmmakers but has been very influential to painters, the dream visions lend themselves perfectly to exploring taboo subject matter.

Temptation of Saint Anthony by Melies with woman on cross by you.


Only two notable filmmakers had a go at the story, Georges Méliès in 1898 and the aforementioned Italian version of 1911.

Then there is the curious case of The Private Affairs of Bel Ami[3]. For the realisation of this film Loew-Lewin Productions announced a “Temptation of St. Anthony” contest. David Loew and Albert Lewin had persuaded twelve modern artists to paint Anthony’s vision. Each artist was commissioned for $500. Max Ernst was the $3,000 prizewinner.

The work was to be shown in a close-up at a key moment in the film.

max_ernst_anthony by youngmanblues.


Although Max Ernst‘s rendition (here[5] in a better scan) was the winning work, Salvador Dalí‘s contribution[6] (featuring a parade of spider-legged elephants tormenting the saint) went on the become better-known.

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