Sunday, July 06, 2008

Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 28.6.-5.7.2008

Artistic director: Peter von Bagh. Advisory board: Nico de Klerk, Gian Luca Farinelli, Nicola Mazzanti, Mark-Paul Meyer, Peter von Bagh. Festival coordinator: Guy Borlée.
This was another great year for Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato, with the sole complaint that the programme was too good. Triple programming of this calibre means permanent agony of choice. I kept focusing on the screenings in Lumière 1, dedicated to silents, as this is the decade of the great harvest of the silent film renaissance that started in the 1970s.
For the sixth time the Festival mounted a "A Hundred Years Ago" programme, curated by Mariann Lewinsky, the festival inside the festival. It keeps getting bigger and better, and the year 1908 was fascinating in film history. I missed the show dedicated to early sound films and the rise of the crime / mystery / detective genre (Nick Carter). Tom Gunning presented the American shows titled "Biograph before and after Griffith" and "Edison and others" (with Vitagraph and Lubin). I missed the show dedicated to Albert Capellani, a director worth rehabilitating, and the show dedicated to Pathé in 1908; the year was a turning-point to the company that started to slow down. The first Italian programme showed the rise of the major companies Ambrosio and Cines, the development of the epic historic genre, samples of early melodrama such as Mario Caserini's L'abbandonata, and funny comedy (Il duello dei paurosi). The second Italian programme was dedicated to catastrophes, both the topical terrible Messina earthquake and the historic Pompei disaster in the first film interpretation of Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei. "Visions impossibles - evolutions of the film trick" was one of the most wonderful programmes of the festival. "Visions sensuelles" was dedicated to the fascination of life and movement, not flinching from the sight of the snake devouring a rabbit. "Visions du réel - visions d'art" included a fascinating attempt to reconstruct aspects of the historic gala premiere of L'Assassinat du Duc de Guise. An especially important entry was the famous L'Empreinte (Le Film d'Art / Paul Henry Burget).
A retrospective that was partly joined with the previously mentioned, was "Forze irresistibili" - "Irresistible Forces: Comic Actresses and Suffragettes (1910-1915)", also curated by Mariann Lewinsky, part of the Pioniere del cinema project curated by Monica Dall'Asta. Equally fascinating, ambitious, and well-prepared, it suffered of being "too much" to the one who also wanted to see all the compilations hundred years ago. I saw the programmes "Women of 1908" and "Suffragists' Intimate, Public and Cinematic Spheres" curated by Madeleine Bernstorff. There were also programmes dedicated to wild British women, the French female comedy series (Rosalie, Petronella, Léontine, Cunégonde), Italian comedies (Lea, Gigetta, Robinette, Gribouillette), and "Mixed Doubles, Close Combat". These anthology programmes would deserve dvd access.
This year's "morning serial" was I topi grigi, fittingly in eight episodes, a truly crazy and weird mystery / adventure story, a vehicle for the strange talents of its director-star Emilio Ghione. Screened in a fine Lumière project print made ten years ago with the original camera negative as the starting point, this was above average among Bologna's morning serials.
Of the tribute to Josef von Sternberg, with Janet Bergstrom and Nicholas von Sternberg I saw samples only. The Salvation Hunters was a rare treat, Sternberg's first film immediately a bold poetic statement. It was a privilege to see An American Tragedy on the big screen, a film worth remembering despite the success of A Place in the Sun. UCLA has done a wonderful job restoring Sternberg's films, but the Paramount tragedy of destroying Sternberg's original nitrate elements should be kept in mind.
The magnificent Lev Kuleshov retrospective I missed, as it was mostly mounted as a parallel programme to the Lumière 1 screenings. Curated by Ekaterina Hohlova, Yuri Tsivian an Nikolai Izvolov, with the collaboration of Ana Olenina, Eugenia Gaglianone and Dunja Dogo, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Gosfilmofond, the retrospective sets new standards for future Kuleshov appreciation.
In the Ritrovati & restaurati section there was the sensation of I livets vår (1912), starring the three giants of Swedish cinema, Klercker, Sjöström and Stiller in the same film as actors, before they became directors. Julien Duvivier's La Bandera (1935) offered Jean Gabin's first signature role as the fatal man. Herzog Blaubarts Burg (1964), the film of the Béla Barték opera, produced by Norman Foster, was an impressive Michael Powell discovery, exciting in the same way as Hoffmann's Tales and Peeping Tom.
The restored Gamperaliya (Forgotten Village, Sri Lanka 1965), directed by Lester James Peries, was a a fine and sensitive portrait of a lady. The film has been promoted by Pierre Rissient, the miraculous talent-spotter. Todd McCarthy's homage, Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient (2007), was my favourite of the festival, as it's about discovering how love of the cinema can change life (for artists and their audiences).
The night screenings at the city square, Piazza Maggiore, I skipped, being a morning person. Two exceptions were worth it: Hitchcock's Blackmail, with brand new music by Neil Brand, very Hitchcockian. And the closing gala "Music and Films of the Historical Avantgardes", inspired by the centenary of L'Assassinat du Duc de Guise with its exciting Camille Saint-Saëns score, the first original score of film history. Plus the famous original scores by Max Butting (Lichtspiel Opus 1), George Antheil (Le Ballet mécanique), and Erik Satie (Entr'acte). All conducted by Timothy Brock and performed by the Bologna City Orchestra.
Of the Golden Age of Warner series I saw Wellman's Heroes for Sale, and Curtiz's 20.000 Years in Sing Sing, strong examples of social conscience at the Warner Bros.
Of the Atom Bomb series I saw the excellent double bill of Hiroshima Nagasaki - August 1945 (from the original newsreel footage) and Kaneto Shindo's moving and human Children of Hiroshima.
Of the Scope project Part 5 I saw Man of the West, Anthony Mann's tragic-melodramatic Western in the William S. Hart tradition.
Missed delights: Pagnol (Le Schpountz, Topaze [1951]), the Chaplin tribute & Monta Bell, Ghione (except the serial), Guareschi, and the dossiers (Blasetti, Labarthe, Tosi, Actualités, Local Films, Bernardo).
The success of the festival was also due to its professional management, its warm hospitality, its atmosphere of friendship, and the high standard of the notes in its programme catalogue.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Musiche e film delle avanguardie storiche

Accompagnamento dal vivo dell'Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna diretta dal maestro Timothy Brock. - E-subtitles in Italian and English. Viewed at Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, 5 July 2008
Entr'acte. FR 1924. D: René Clair. Partitura originale di Erik Satie. Print: Centre Georges Pompidou. /18 fps/ 16 min
La donna è mobile / Oh wie so trügerisch. DE 1908. Fonoscena. PC: Cinophon Alfred Dusles. Starring Enrico Caruso. Print: Filmarchiv Austria, restored with optical sound by Lobster Films. 3 min
Lichtspiel Opus 1. DE 1921. D: Walther Ruttmann. Print: Centre Georges Pompidou. Partitura originale di Max Butting restaurata da Timothy Brock. 11 min
L'Assassinat du Duc de Guise. FR 1908. PC: Pathé Frères. D: André Calmettes, Charles Le Bargy. Original score: Camille Saint-Saëns. Print: AFF / CNC. /16 fps/ 11 min
Motion Painting No 1. US 1947. D: Oskar Fischinger. Music: J.S. Bach: 3. Brandenburgisches Konzert. Print: Fischinger Trust / Center for Visual Music
Le Ballet mécanique. FR 1924. D: Fernand Léger. Original score: George Antheil. Print: Centre Georges Pompidou. 375 m /18 fps/ 19 min - "In this performance, everything, with the exception of the propellers' sound, will be played live and by humans, including the piano, the xylophone, and the siren parts. The score calls for: glockenspiel, small airplane propeller sound, large airplane propeller sound, gong, cymbal, woodblock, triangle, military drum, tambourine, small electric bell, large electric bell, tenor drum, bass drum, 2 xylophones, 4 pianos, and a siren" (Timothy Brock)
A magnificent concert bringing together legendary original scores of the silent era and pioneers of visual music.

The Dawn of a Tomorrow

Nattens skuggor [the title on print]. US 1915. PC: Famous Players Film Co. Original distributor: Paramount. Presented by Daniel Frohman. D: James Kirkwood. SC: Eve Unsell - based on the novel (1906) and play (1909) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Starring Mary Pickford (Glad) David Powell (Dandy), Forrest Robinson (Sir Oliver Holt), Robert Cain (his nephew). Considered lost, a Swedish print of the film was found in 2005. Originally 1339 m, cut by the Swedish censor, preserved from a tinted print with Swedish intertitles, 1283 m /17 fps/ 66 min. Grand piano: Matti Bye. Presenta Jon Wengström. Viewed at Lumière 1, Bologna, 5 July 2008. - In the opening scene Mary is a bit like Eliza in Pygmalion / My Fair Lady. - "The poorest girl of London, and happiest" meets "the richest and the unhappiest man in England". The slum girl is surrounded by the rich young Holt and the poor Dandy. Mary overhears the burglary plan of her friends, and because of her plea Dandy withdraws. Mary also stops also an evicted lady from drowning, quoting the Sermon on the Mount. Mary meets the old, mortally ill Sir Oliver on a railway platform disguised as a poor man; she preaches him the sermon of life. - Typical Mary Pickford material, but mediocre and uninspired, far from the 10-20 great Mary Pickford masterpieces.

I lifvets vår

Elämän keväänä / The Springtime of Life. FR / SE 1912. PC: Pathé Frères - Stockholm. D: Paul Garbagni. Based on the novel Första älskarinnan by August Blanche. Starring Victor Sjöström (Cyril Alm), Selma Wiklund af Klercker [Mrs. Georg af Klercker] (Gerda, von Seydling's daughter), Georg af Klercker (von Seydling, counsellor in commerce), Mauritz Stiller (von Plaein, lieutenant), Anna Norrie (Mrs. Alm, Cyril's mother), Astrid Engelbrecht (Sara Andersson), Victor Arfvidson (Brooms, a dubious individual). The nitrate negative was found at La Cinémathèque francaise in 2006, and this restored print with reconstructed Swedish intertitles and Desmet tinting was produced by Cinemateket / Svenska Filminstitutet in 2008. Presenta Jon Wengström. Grand piano: Matti Bye. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 5 July, 2008. - A sensational discovery starring the three major directors just before the beginning of the Swedish cinema's Golden Age. Klercker is the roguish counsellor who tries to get rid of his little daughter Gerda born to his ex-mistress, now dead. Sjöström is the considerate gentleman who saves the girl more than once. Stiller is the lieutenant who fights a duel with Sjöström over Gerda. The story is a routine melodrama, the direction is mediocre, the cinematography is professional. It is interesting to note that the acting style is already relatively sober, no longer based on the grand gestures of the histrionic school. There was the negative as the starting point of this well-made print, but the relentless heavy tinting takes much of the light away.

Att döda ett barn

DOSSIER CINEFILIA: OMAGGIO AL CENTENARIO DI GÖSTA WERNER. Presenta Peter von Bagh & Jon Wengström.
To Kill a Child. SE 1953. PC: Minerva Film. Commissioned by Försäkringsbolagens upplysningstjänst. D: Gösta Werner. Based on the short story by Stig Dagerman. English-language version (English commentary only). 1o min. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 2, 5 July 2008. - Fiction. A visually powerful traffic security film shot in the Swedish countryside.

Cento anni fà: i film del 1908: 12: Visions du réel - visions d'art

Presenta Mariann Lewinsky. Grand piano: Alain Baents. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 5 July 2008.
L'Enfance charitable. FR 1908. PC: Gaumont. 6 min. - Visions of poverty as children come to the help of the poor.
A Day in the Dog's Home. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 3 min. - A rich lady selects a dog in the dog shelter, where we meet an old woman in the yard. Documentary look.
Une noce en Bretagne. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 5 min. - A documentary on a country wedding in Brittany, with banquet tables, musicians, and dances, and separate tables for the poor. Beautiful AFF / CNC print.
Le Culture des huîtres / The Oyster from Bed to Table. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 7 min. - A documentary account on the cultivation of oysters, ending with a shot of a gourmand. Low contrast, heavily duped BFINA print.
Ich habe keinen Frack. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 8 min. - A funny comedy about the alcoholic pianist and the "Roman officer" sculptor's model.
RECONSTRUCTING THE PREMIERE OF L'ASSASSINAT DU DUC DE GUISE
VISIONS D'ART (SALLE CHARRAS, 17 NOVEMBER 1908)
1. LE SECRET DE MYRTO (REGINA BADET)
Dans l'Hellade. FR 1909. PC: Pathé. Starring Stacia Napierkowska. 4 min. - Ancient Greek dance scene.
2. SERIE VENETIENNE DE PLAQUES AUTOCHROME
Venice, Reine de l'Adriatique. FR 1912. PC: Gaumont. Widescreen (ca 1:2), Tricromia colour. 3 min. - Venetian scenes very beautifully photographed, composed, and in pleasant colours. From Archives Gaumont-Pathé.
3. M. LE BARGY, LECTURE DE VERS D'EDMOND ROSTAND
Benoît Constant Coquelin dans Cyrano de Bergerac. FR 1900. PC: Phono-Cinéma Théâtre. Starring Ainé Coquelin, Desjardin. With synchronized sound. 2 min. Digibeta, alas. Print: Lobster. - A very moving scene from the legendary original performance of Edmond Rostand's play.
La Valse chaloupée. [A scene from L'Empreinte.] FR 1908. PC: Le Film d'Art. D: Paul Henry Burguet. Starring Mistinguett, Max Dearly. 2 min. Print: AFF / CNC. - A startling performance by the stars of the Moulin Rouge.
L'Empreinte / L'Empreinte ou la Main Rouge. FR 1908. PC: Le Film d'Art. D: Paul Henry Burguet. Based on the pantomime Conscience. Starring Gaston Severin (Pierrot). Print: AFF / CNC. 14 min. - A "mimodrame cinématographique" on the murderer Pierrot's rise into high society, his nightmare, and the voice of his conscience.

I topi grigi 8: Mezza Quaresima

The Grey Mice 8: Midland. IT 1918. D+starring Emilio Ghione. 874 m /16 fps/ 48 min. Grand piano: Gabriel Thibaudeau. Viewed in Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato, 5 July 2008. - The final episode of the morning serial. Za la Mort's strangeness almost makes him lose a trial. Masked men cut the switches of the electric power station. Grigione steals the box with the million from the stash and hides it in his own hiding place, a secret well shaft. With the handwriting and the paper stock Za la Mort proves to the district attorney that the Countess is behind the inheritance fraud and the murder frame-up. Grigione´s bloody hand print leads Za and his gang on his trail. They meet him in the wild Folies Dramatiques masked ball. The "mummies" in their caskets are awakened by the best kissers. Grigione's masked lady companion is switched with Za la Vie. His stash is finally discovered in the climax, where the crook falls into the shaft and Za la Mort and Za la Vie decide to dedicate the inheritance to the abandoned ones. (Leo has perished in the shipwreck.) - Certainly a wild and weird serial.

Friday, July 04, 2008

20.000 Years in Sing Sing

20.000 vuotta Sing Singissä / 20.000 år i Sing Sing. US 1932. PC: Warner Bros. D: Michael Curtiz. Based on the book by the warden Lewis E. Lawes. AD: Anton Grot. Starring Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis, Arthur Byron, Louis Calhern. 78 min. Print: LoC. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 2, 4 July 2008. - Based on the true stories of the great prison reformer. Curtiz is getting to find his true groove in this grim story of the hard-boiled criminal (Spencer Tracy) and his experience of the "honour system". Semi-documentary scenes add to the authenticity.

Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient

US 2007. D: Todd McCarthy. Digibeta (original format). 110 min. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 2, 4 July 2008. - A wonderful and affectionate portrait of the Grand Ambassador of cinema. My favourite movie of the Bologna festival.

Dossier The Sea Gull

Presenta Janet Bergstrom. Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 4 July 2008. - Traces of Josef von Sternberg's lost film, produced by Charles Chaplin. I saw the beginning of this presentation only.

Chaplin in visita al Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia

IT 1952. 10 min silent. Cineteca Nazionale. Presenta Cecilia Cenciarelli. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 4 July 2008. - Chaplin visited Rome to promote Limelight on 22 December, 1952. Prominent Italian film people appear, such as Zavattini and Fellini.

Bad Day at Black Rock

Mies astui junasta / En man steg av tåget. US 1955. Print: GEH. The beginning viewed in Bologna, Cinema Arlecchino, 4 July 2008. - A clean print with somewhat flat and lifeless colour and definition (in the beginning at least).

Cento anni fà: I film del 1908: 11: Visions sensuelles

Presenta: Mariann Lewinsky. Grand piano: Maud Nelissen. Viewed in Bologna, at Cinema Lumière 1, 4 July 2008.
Aeroplane Gliding. GB 1908. 1 min. - Brief runs of a biplane glider.
[Auf hoher See] / [Oberland und Berna]. IT? 1908?. 5 min. - High wind in the ocean, the beauty of the surf.
Nuit de Noël /Christmas Eve Night. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 12 min. - Tragedy of the fisherman who sets out to sea on Christmas Eve, his wife seduced by another man, with a terrible revenge, including a shocking image of the horse falling down the bluff.
Repas du serpent. FR 1908. PC: Gaumont. 3 min. - A big snake strangles and eats in one piece a live rabbit.
Society Wedding. FR 19o8. PC: Gaumont. 5 min. - Actuality footage at the entrance of the wedding banquet showing the magnificent carriages of the society people.
Eine kleine Mutter. FR 1908. PC: Lion. 9 min. - Mother on his deathbed, the children facing the destiny of being orphans.
La Fabrication du charbon de bois. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 7 min. - Documentary on the production of wood charcoal.
Woman Draped in Patterned Handkerchiefs. GB 1908. D: George Albert Smith. 1 min.
Visite à Stockholm. FR 1908.
Dans le sous-marin. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 8 min. - Fiction with sets and effects resembling Méliès. A tragic story of a submarine accident ending with fantasy visions of peace and webs with babies.

I topi grigi 7: 6.000 volts

The Grey Mice 7: 6.000 Volts. IT 1918. D+starring Emilio Ghione. 760 m /16 fps/ 42 min. Grand piano: Donald Sosin. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 4 July 2008. - Za la Mort rescued on a cannibal island, becoming the witch doctor. The evil countess's henchmen disguised as old people steal the address of the million lira cache. But there is the deadly electric shock of 6.000 volts. The corpse of Musoduro is staged as a victim of Za la Mort. He is arrested on arrival to the railway station.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

La Bandera

Kuoleman pataljoona. FR 1935. PC: Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie. D: Julien Duvivier. SC: Duvivier, Charles Spaak, Pierre Mac Orlan - based on the novel by Mac Orlan. DP: Jules Kruger, Marc Fossard. Starring Jean Gabin, Annabella, Robert Le Vigan, Pierre Renoir, Gaston Modot, Viviane Romance. 102 min. Restored by AFF / CNC. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Arlecchino, 3 July 2008. - Gabin's first signature role as a fatal, tragic man who tries to escape his dark past of crime and murder - in this story, in the Foreign Legion, meeting and marrying in a strange tattoo and blood marriage Aicha (Annabella) too late. There is a compelling flow in the film, a milestone in the French 1930s crime fantasy film, one of the models of American film noir. A colonialistic film, but in fantasy mode. Clearly Pépé le Moko built on this.

Man of the West

Mies lannesta / Mannen fran vastern. US (c) 1958 Ashton Productions. Originally released by United Artists. D: Anthony Mann. SC: Reginald Rose - based on the novel The Border Jumpers by Will C. Brown. DP: Ernest Haller - CinemaScope - De Luxe. Starring: Gary Cooper, Julie London, Lee J. Cobb, Arthur O'Connell. 100 min. Print: Cin. fr. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Arlecchino, 3 July 2008. - The print is a mixed bag from brilliant to mediocre colour and definition. - A masterpiece revisited in a magnificent scope presentation. Anthony Mann had fallen out with James Stewart, and the aged Gary Cooper brought his own tragic charisma into the part (interesting to see this soon after Morocco, made 28 years earlier). - There is Dostoyevskian grandeur in this story of the man's return to his criminal past, and conquering the evil father figure. - Lee J. Cobb's barking may get a bit monotonous. - Humoristic touches in the beginning, as the man of the West boards a train for the first time in his life. - Julie London presents a romantic interest which remains only a beautiful, unrealized opportunity. - This film is a noble entry in the "good-bad man / woman" tradition of the Western. The story would have been perfect for William S. Hart.

Morocco

US 1930. PC: Paramount. D: Josef von Sternberg. Starring Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Adolphe Menjou. Print: UCLA. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Arlecchino, 3 July 2008. - The last 30 minutes. - The film is spellbinding, and the print probably the best there is (but Paramount burned the negatives and the best original materials in the 1950s).

Cento anni fà: i film del 1908: 10: Visions impossibles - presente e futuro dei trucchi cinematografici

Presented by Mariann Lewinsky. Grand piano: Donald Sosin. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 3 July 2008.
The Dog Outwits the Kidnappers. GB 1908. PC: Hepworth. D: Fitzhamon Lewin. 7 min. - A comedy reversal of Rescued by Rover: the dog conducts the car with the kidnapped child back home.
Papillons japonais / Japanische Schmetterlinge. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 5 min. - An exceptionally beautiful trick film full of transformations.
L'Etang enchanté. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. D: Segundo de Chomon. 4 min. - Another exquisite trick film with transformations of water nymphs.
[Pathé Trick Film 1908 No. 2]. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 4 min (or longer?). - An astounding succession of transformations with interesting puppet animation, even with macabre touches in the style of Tim Burton.
L'insaisissable pickpocket. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. 5 min. - A truly wonderful comedy of transformations of the elusive pickpocket, who can change into almost anything in the style of Méliès or animation: even into a snake or into a pile of bricks.
Le bon invalide et les enfants. FR 1908. PC: Gaumont. 4 min. - Weird children's play with a benevolent invalid who borrows his limbs for them.
Auteur à la mode / Ein spannend fesselnder Roman. FR 1908. PC: Gaumont. 8 min. - A wonderful comedy of exaggeration as everybody reads the best-selling novel, at the expense of everything else. A big disappointment awaits the female fans in the end.
Les Reflets vivants / Lebende Spiegelbilder. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. D: Camille de Morlhon. 4 min. - Scifi-cinefantastique-comedy about the inventor who invents a kind of hologram mirror images. Everybody gets doubled.
Reve des marmitons. FR 1908. PC: Pathé. D: Segundo de Chomon. 7 min. - A dream in the kitchen: all the kitchen work gets done by the disjected hands.
Fantasmagories. FR 1908. PC: Gaumont. D: Emile Cohl. 3 min. - Animation: drawn white lines on black.
The Acrobatic Fly. GB 1908. PC: Urban. D: Percy Smith. 3 min. - The miraculous powers of flies in what looks like a documentary.

I topi grigi 6: Aristocrazia canaglia

The Grey Mice 6: Rogue Aristocracy. IT 1918. D+starring Emilio Ghione. 826 m /16 fps/ 46 min. Grand piano: Antonio Coppola. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 3 July 2008. - Full speed ahead in the action serial. Za la Mort and Leo learn to wear a tail suit for the reception at the Countess Giovanna di Saint Valentin. As a result of her poison cigarettes the two wake up in a nailed box in the bowels of a cargo boat to Singapore. However, a submarine crosses their way, and the episode ends in a shipwreck. Meanwhile, Za la Vie contacts the underworld and cashes at Crédit Lyonnais the million franc cheque, and in the last minute rescue the evil Countess's car is stopped by broken glass planted on the road by our friends.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Herzog Blaubarts Burg

Bluebeard's Castle. DE 1964. PC: Norman Foster Productions. D: Michael Powell. A film of the Bela Bartok opera with the libretto by Bela Balazs, A Kekszakallu herceg vara (1911). Design: Hein Heckroth. Starring Norman Foster (Bluebeard) and Ana Raquel Satre (Giuditta). 60 min. Ashbrittle Film Foundation. Presented by Mrs. Sibylle Nabel-Foster (Mrs. Norman Foster). Technicolor print. Sparse English subtitles. Viewed in Bologna, Arlecchino, 2 July 2008. - An impressive film of the fascinating opera, on the same level as Hoffmann's Tales, brilliant design by Hein Heckroth. Behind the seventh door death waits Giuditta. A parallel film to Peeping Tom.

Cento anni fà: i film del 1908: 9: Italia 1908 - catastrofi

Curated by Luigi Virgolin. Grand piano: Antonio Coppola. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 2 July 2008.
Tremblement de terre de Messine. FR 1909. PC: Pathé. Newsreel on the terrible earthquake of Messina and Reggio Calabria: the ruins.
L'orfanella di Messina / Die Waise von Messina. IT 1909. PC: Ambrosio. D: Giovanni Vitrotti. Fiction: a lost child replaced by an orphan from Messina.
Cocò e il terremoto. FR 1910. A funny farce of Cocò's terrible nightmares of earthquakes.
Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei. IT 1908. PC: Ambrosio. D: Luigi Maggi. Starring Lydia De Roberti. An impressive NFM print with strong colours of the first significant film adaptation of the Bulwer-Lytton novel.
Visit to Pompei. FR [1913?]. Newsreel of the contemporary Pompei site.

Gembaku no ko

Children of Hiroshima. JP 1952. PC: Kindai Eiga Kyokai, Mingei. D+SC: Kaneto Shindo. Starring Nobuko Otowa (Takako Ishikawa). 97 min. Kawakita Memorial print. Viewed in Bologna, Lumière 2, 2 July 2008. - A strong fictional approach to the Hiroshima disaster through a young lady teacher who returns to her home town and wants to take to her island a young boy whose parents died in the disaster and whose grandfather is blind and horribly burned. Direct, effective, emotional, with lots of documentary interesting passages.

Hiroshima Nagasaki - August 1945

US 1970. P: Eric Barnouw. D: Akira Iwasaki. 16mm, 17 min, PFA. Viewed in Bologna, Lumière 2, 2 July 2008. - Original Hiroshima and Nagasaki footage, kept secret for decades, and then barely released. Essential images.

Cento anni fà: i film del 1908: 8: Italia 1908 - il cinema italiano nel 1908

L'incontro dei reali a Venezia. IT 1908. P: Luca Comerio. Documentary on Vittorio Emanuele and Franz Joseph in Venice.
Topolini riconoscenti / Les Souris reconnaisants. IT 1908. PC: Ambrosio. Beautiful print of the comedy-fairytale.
L'abbandonata. IT 1908. PC: Cines. D: Mario Caserini. Starring Maria Caserini-Gasparini. The tragedy of the girl seduced and abandoned by the gamekeeper, with fatal results of a gunshot, the blame taken by the girl. A fine sense of histrionic melodrama in the gestures.
Giuditta e Oloferne / Judith and Holofernes. IT 1908. PC: Cines. D: Mario Caserini. A rather clumsy interpretation of the Biblical story.
Un dramma al Marocco. IT 1908. PC: Itala. A beautiful print of the pictorially pleasant film.
Le manovre navali italiane. IT 1908. PC: Ambrosio. Documentary of the great manoeuvres of the Italian navy.
Il duello dei paurosi / The Duel of Cowards. IT 1908. PC: Itala. A funny comedy with perfect convulsive, exaggerated gestures.

I topi grigi 5: Corsa al milione

The Grey Mice 5: The Race to the Millions. IT 1918. D+starring Emilio Ghione. 762 m /16 fps/ 42 min. Grand piano: Maud Nelissen. Viewed in Bologna, Cinema Lumière 1, 2 July 2008. Believed dead, Za la Mort meets his family after a long break, and the reception is strange because of the romance between Za la Vie and Leo. The shock is almost fatal for Za la Vie, but Za la Mort is ready to face the reality. After the death of Saint Valentin the last will with the huge inheritance for Leo is burned by the evil countess. Ingenuously Za la Mort gets to meet her, and Za la Vie gets a job as the chambermaid in the mansion. - There is a special visual intensity in this episode, and a true strangeness in Emilio Ghione's star persona.

Blackmail (silent version) Live Cinema Concert

Puhtauden lunnaat / Kiristys / Utpressning. GB 1929. PC: British International Pictures. P: John Maxwell. D: Alfred Hitchcock. SC: AH, Benn W. Levy, Charles Bennett - based on the play by Bennett. DP: John J. Cox. Starring: Anny Ondra (Alice White), John Longden (detective Frank Weber), Donald Calthrop (the blackmailer Tracy), Cyril Ritchard (the artist). 2056 m /24 fps/ 75 min. Print: BFI. E-subtitles in Italian. Viewed at Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, 1 July 2008
PREMIERE OF THE NEW SCORE COMPOSED BY NEIL BRAND
CONDUCTOR: TIMOTHY BROCK
ORCHESTRA DEL TEATRO COMUNALE (BOLOGNA), 56 artists
Neil Brand's new full-blooded Hitchcockian score stands up to comparison with Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Ron Goodwin.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

An American Tragedy

Amerikkalainen murhenäytelmä / En amerikansk tragedi. US (c) 1931 Paramount. P+D: Josef von Sternberg. SC: Samuel Hoffenstein - based on the novel by Theodore Dreiser (1925). DP: Lee Garmes. Starring: Phillips Holmes (Clyde Griffiths), Sylvia Sidney (Roberta /Bert/ Alden), Frances Dee (Sondra Finchley). 95 min. E-subtitles in Italian. Print: UCLA. Viewed at Arlecchino, Bologna, 1 July 2008. - I had seen this film previously on TV only, and it was very moving to experience it on the big screen. The print bears the marks of the Paramount tragedy. The UCLA print has been lovingly prepared but looks at least partly like a 16mm blowup. - Sternberg made the film with great feeling and commitment against the grain, as Dreiser is a naturalist and Sternberg an anti-naturalist. - The coldness of the performance of Phillips Holmes may have distanced audiences. Montgomery Clift was more successful in making the tragic protagonist both emotionally engaging and terrible in his calculation.

Gamperaliya

The Changing Village / Forgotten Village [translated title on print] / A Family Chronicle. LK 1965. PC: Cinelanka. D: Lester James Peries. SC: Reggie Siriwardena - based on the novel by Martin Wickremasinghe. DP: William Blake. Starring: Wickrema Bogoda (Tissa), Gamini Fonseka (Jinadasa), Punya Hiendeniya (Nanda), Henry Jayasena (Pryal Weliweli). In Sinhala language [sous-titres francais?], e-subtitles in Italian and English. 105 min. Print: UCLA. Special thanks: Pierre Rissient. Viewed in Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 1 July 2008. - A beautiful, sensitive portrait of a young woman in the beginning of the 20th century in the vast villas of a vanishing upper caste. Paraphrasing Isabelle Jordan's text in Positif, quoted in Bologna's programme book: she is caught between two ages, two centuries, two cultures, where women wear European lace bodices with Sri Lankan cotton skirts. A quiet, intensive, refined interpretation of a heartbreaking story. In the same league with Satyajit Ray.

I topi grigi 4: La rete di corda

IT 1918. D+starring: Emilio Ghione. 48 min. With earphone commentary in English. Grand piano: Alain Baents. - I saw the beginning only of this episode. It takes place in America, in Diamond City, in the Wild West.