Friday, October 10, 2008


Gypsies. CZ 1921. PC: AB. D+SC: Karel Anton - based on the novel by Karel Hynek Mácha (1835). DP: Karel Kopriva. AD: Bohuslav Sula; CAST: Theodor Pietek (Valdemar Lomecký), Olga Augustová (Angelina), Hugo Svoboda (Giacomo), Bronislava Livia (Lea), Karel Schleichert (old veteran), Karel Faltys (Napoleon) Restored print: Národní Filmový Archiv (Praha). 2426 m /22 fps/ 96 min. Original in Czech with e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Gabriel Thibaudeau, violin: Günter Buchwald. Viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Cinema Verdi, Pordenone, 10 October 2008. - Blazena Urgosikova: "The 23-year-old Karel Anton, who was subsequently to become a significant figure in Czech cinema, chose a very difficult subject for his first film. Gypsies, written in 1835 by the first modern Czech poet, Karel Hynek Mácha, is a short but very complex novel: the story and the truth about the protagonists is not narrated in a linear way, but revealed step by step through the recollections of different characters. Anton, who also wrote the script, retained most of Mácha’s narrative, but added two scenes: the Marquis’ saturnalian diversion, and the Napoleonic episode.
The entire prologue takes place in Venice, where the filmmakers spent many days; the plot set in Bohemia was shot in an evocative Kokorin landscape, and in the authentic surroundings known to Mácha. Critics immediately recognized the film’s contribution to the art of Czech cinematography. Karel Koprva’s photography is quite extraordinary: already at the beginning of the 1920s, he introduced into Czech cinema a “lyrical manner derived from landscape painting” (Lubos Bartosek); this characteristic was to persist in Czech films in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.
For years Gypsies was known only in a shortened version of around 1800-1900 metres, whereas its original length, according to censorship records, was 2400 metres. Four elements were used for this restoration: two on nitrate stock, and two that had already been reprinted on acetate. A toned nitrate print and a tinted first-generation copy with Czech intertitles were the longest, at 2020 metres. The second nitrate element was the original negative, consisting of unassembled fragments with Czech and German cued intertitles. A new copy was reconstructed from this material, with a total length of 2426 metres. It was subjected to the process of tinting and toning after being printed.
Karel Anton was born in Prague in 1898, and died in Berlin in 1979. Anton’s masterpiece is Tonka Sibenice (Tonka of the Gallows, 1930), based on a novel by Egon Erwin Kisch. Anton’s subsequent early talkies were shot in Czech and German versions . After the commercial success of these films he moved to France, where he made more than 10 films, and subsequently to Germany, where he worked as producer, writer and director of films in a range of genres and of varying degrees of artistic success until the early 1960s."
- Blazena Urgosikova - I saw the Venetian prologue only, which looked very interesting, and the restoration work was handsome with lucrative tinting and toning effects. - The live music by Gabriel Thibaudeau and Günter Buchwald had a charming Gypsy sound.

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