Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Amore senza stima

Amore senza stima [Love Without Esteem] [L'avvoltoio / The Vulture?]. IT 1912. PC: Celio Film (Roma). D: Baldassarre Negroni; DP: Giorgio (Giorgino) Ricci; CAST: Francesca Bertini (Maria), Emilio Ghione (the seducer), Alberto Collo (man in bar), Noemi de’ Ferrari (fiancée), Angelo Gallina (the major-domo); 917 m /17 fps/ 47 min, col.; from: Cineteca Nazionale, Roma. A reconstructed print with reconstructed intertitles via a 4K digital intermediate with Desmet tinting. E-subtitles in English, grand piano: Antonio Coppola. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 6 Oct 2009. - From the GCM Catalogue: "The film tells the story of Maria (the name has been traced by Riccardo Redi, from unspecified sources), a young typist who falls in love with a distinguished gentleman by whom she becomes pregnant, without knowing that he is married. The gentleman, assailed by debts resulting from his dissipated life, depends upon his rich wife, and has no intention of marrying the poor girl. After having refused the money offered by him in compensation for her dishonour, Maria wanders desperately, with her baby in her arms, until she decides to accept the propositions of a stranger, with the single aim of buying a gun to carry out her own revenge.
In this transgressive story, a true masterpiece of a first naturalism in the Roman cinema, the protagonist virtually prostitutes herself to effect justice by her own means, a heroine with a baby in her arm and a pistol in her hand.
Celio Film, established in 1912, was a Cines brand name oriented to quality production, known for its refinement of mise-en-scène and realism in treating contemporary stories, at the time “outside the existing canons of the market”. The dramas issued by this “skilful firm” were welcomed as “the faithful and artistic expression of real life”, according to the editor of the magazine La Vita Cinematografica. At the same time they retain a certain freshness and openness, due to original stories and expert artistic direction, together with delicate photographic work and, despite limited production means, unique moments from their actors.
The copy which has survived bears the title Amore senza stima (Love without Esteem) and dates from 1923, when Francesca Bertini, having become a diva, had retired from the screen, so that the public eagerly watched her old successes over again. Probably the print is the result of a process of re-editing, resulting in the elimination of some intertitles, and the title under which it was initially distributed remains uncertain. Preparatory research for this restoration enables us to exclude the possibility that it is the film that has often been attributed, La bufera (1913). The most authoritative hypothesis is that it is another film by Baldassarre Negroni, announced towards the end of 1912, L’avvoltoio (The Vulture), or, as it was re-issued in 1913, L’avvoltoio nero (The Black Vulture), above all for the character created by Emilio Ghione, the actor whom some sources credit as its assistant or associate director (which would not be surprising, since the film is still more a vehicle for Ghione than for Bertini).
The film contains some elements which enable us to associate it with a play by Paolo Ferrari, Amore senza stima, essentially in the relationship between the gambler and his wife, especially in so far as the crime is concerned, and this may explain why the film was so renamed. The same play by Ferrari served as the inspiration for a Cines film of 1914.
The restoration, carried out in the PresTech laboratores in London, is based on the only existing print of this film, which had been recut several times and was found virtually without intertitles. The capture has been effected at 4K and the work carried out digitally because the film was in a critical state of decomposition. Some sequences were put back in order, while some intertitles have been inserted both with the aim of facilitating comprehension of the story and to create some temporal breaks in the somewhat elliptical narrative, also endeavouring to match the laconic style of the few surviving intertitles. The tinting has been restored using the Desmet method. – Irela Nunez". - I watched some 15 minutes of this film to get an impression of the impact of the 4K digital intermediate. I would not have recognized the print to be based on a digital intermediate, and the restoration work seems very good, indeed. - Emilio Ghione sports a huge beard, and the actor is not instantly recognizable. The male protagonist is a spineless crook, not worthy of the love of the three women. - Judging by the portion of the film I saw Francesca Bertini gives a subtle and sober performance as the mistreated single mother.

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