Theodora, Slave Empress

Theodora, Slave Empress (Italian: Teodora, imperatrice di Bisanzio) is a 1954 film about Theodora, a former slave who married Justinian I, emperor of Byzantium in AD 527–565. It was directed by Riccardo Freda.

Theodora, Slave Empress
Theodora, Slave Empress.jpg
Directed byRiccardo Freda
Screenplay by
  • Rene Wheeler
  • Claude Accursi
  • Ranieri Cochetti
  • Riccardo Freda[1]
Story by
  • André-Paul Antoin
  • Riccardo Freda[1]
CinematographyRodolfo Lombardi[1]
Edited byMario Serandrei[1]
Music byRenzo Rossellini[1]
Distributed by
  • Lux Film (Italy)
  • Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France (France)
Release date
  • 29 September 1954 (1954-09-29) (Italy)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
  • Italy
  • France[1]
Box office592 million



Theodora, Slave Empress was distributed theatrically in Italy on 29 September 1954 by Lux Film.[1] It grossed a total of 592 million Italian lire on this domestic release.[1]

It was also distributed in France by Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France as Théodora, impératrice de Byzance.[1] The film was the first of director Riccardo Freda's film to obtain a wide distribution outside Italy.[2]

It was also released in the USA in December, 1954, distributed by Lux Film America as an I.F.E. release. For this occasion, the film was dubbed into English and edited to 88 minutes (from its original runtime of 124 minutes). The editing was accomplished by simply removing the middle 4 reels of film, covering the plotline from the marriage of Theodora and Justinian to the start of the nobility's revolt against Justinian and his reforms.


In a contemporary review, The Monthly Film Bulletin spoke of the film in negative terms, calling it a "dispiriting experience".[3] The piece referred to Freda's direction as "laboured", stating that he "brings neither gusto nor honest vulgarity to the narrative".[3] Regarding the action scenes, the reviewer felt that only the chariot race was staged with "any suggestion of real flamboyancy or flair" and that Canale's erotic dance before Justinian was "painfully unexciting".[3]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Curti 2017, p. 311.
  2. ^ Quinlan 1999, p. 119.
  3. ^ a b c "Theodora, Slave Empress "(Teodora, Imperatrice di Bisanzio)"". Monthly Film Bulletin. London: British Film Institute. 22 (252): 36. 1955. ISSN 0027-0407.


  • Curti, Roberto (2017). Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker. McFarland. ISBN 978-1476628387.
  • Quinlan, David (1999). Quinlan's Film Directors. B.T. Batsford. ISBN 0713477539.

External linksEdit