Thursday, June 30, 2011

Albert Capellani: Programme 5: Local Colour I, including The Feast of Life

Albert Capellani: Programma 5: Colore locale I. Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 11.15, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone translation in Italian and in English. Grand piano: Donald Sosin, violin: Günter Buchwald.

Catalogue: "In the foreword to his drama Cromwell (1827), Victor Hugo proposes new principles to challenge the classical unities of place and time in drama: namely, the principles of Romantic drama, local colour and historical colour. This idea remained, up to the end of the 19th century, the strongest influence on theatrical design. Costumes and stage architecture aspired to a learned historical accuracy: in operas tarantellas and barcaroles rang out against a background of Naples; all times, cultures and traditions were appropriated by European 19th-century culture, by its entertainments, its theatre and its books. Cinema was (and is) a direct heir of this love of historical and local colour. The programme starts in the 16th century (France-Scotland-England), moves to 18th-century Italy and ends, with The Feast of Life, in the present, in Cuba." (ML)

Capellani’s Star: Clara Kimball Young (II)

"The announcement of the Clara Kimball Young Film Corporation was made in the 2 February, 1916 Cleveland Plain Dealer (scooping Variety by two days). She was still under contract to World until 15 July, and had films to make in order to fulfill her obligations, but according to an advertisement explaining her decision, “Mr. Selznick and I intend by our efforts to raise the motion picture profession to the dignity of an art and take it out of the machinery class.” The following months saw the trade papers inundated with ads, many boasting of Selznick’s master stroke: to break the block bookings monopoly and allow exhibitors the ability to pick and choose which films they wanted to screen. In return, he was charging four times the amount Young’s films commanded in regular programs."

"William Brady, Selznick’s erstwhile partner at World bitterly protested the moves of his former colleague and instructed his exchanges to withdraw all Clara Kimball Young releases from distribution with the exception of the recently released The Feast of Life."

"Bookings for the new company’s first production, The Common Law, directed by Capellani, exceeded expectations. Gloria Swanson paints Clara Kimball Young a business-minded woman thoroughly conversant with the intricacies of her enterprises: “In what other business in the world, I wondered, could this delightful, elegant creature be completely independent – turning out her own pictures, dealing with men as equals, being able to use her brain as well as her beauty, having total say as to what stories she played in, who designed her clothes, and who her director and leading man would be.”" Jay Weissberg

MARIE STUART. FR 1908. D: Albert Capellani. Cast: Jeanne Delvair, Jacques Grétillat, Henry Krauss, Paul Capellani, Véra Sergine; P: Pathé Frères No. 2313. 261 m. 12’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: La Cinémathèque française. - AA: A historical tragedy. An action film in Film d'Art style and in the chase format. Escape from Scotland dressed as a man. Death sentence. A striking finale with the executioner's back towards us. There are instances of beautiful composition and light effects in the film. The visual quality of the b&w print is ok.

LE LUTHIER DE CRÉMONE. FR 1909. D: Albert Capellani. Based on the play by François Coppée (1876). Cast: Amélie Diéterlé, Jean Dax, Julien Clément, Rolla Norman; P: Pathé Frères 229 m. 12’ a 16 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: CNC-Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: A romantic period drama. In Film d'Art style. Winning the gold chain. A print with high contrast. *

THE FEAST OF LIFE. US 1916. D: Albert Capellani. SC: Frances Marion; DP: Lucien N. Andriot; [Loc: Cuba]. Cast: Clara Kimball Young (Aurora Fernandez), E.M. Kimball (Signora Fernandez), Edward Kimball (Padre Venture), Paul Capellani (Don Armada), Doris Kenyon (Celida), Robert Frazer (Pedro); P: Paragon Films; Pri. pro.: 1 maggio 1916. 35 mm. 1274 m. 64’ a 20 fps. B&w. Czech intertitles. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: A Clara Kimball Young vehicle set and filmed in Cuba. - A quadruple tragedy. There are two loving couples (Aurora and Pedro, Diego and Celida), but Aurora has to marry Diego, because the Perez family has "bought all our assets from Spain". There is a grand wedding, but it is a disaster, and the film almost belongs to the cancelled wedding (*) tradition. The abandoned Celida eats a poison fruit. There is a revolt. Diego survives but his eyes have been badly hurt. If Diego gets excited, he may go blind, and he lets people think he is actually blind, but he sees how Aurora and Pedro go on with their romance. - The print is slightly dark, with a somewhat high contrast, there are some signs of water or nitrate decomposition, and the image is partially soft. - The film is still largely based on long shots and long takes. Not very exciting.

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