Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Hundred Years Ago: Programme 1: Italy 1911 - A Nation on the Screen

Cento anni fa: Programma 1: L'Italia nel 1911 - una nazione allo schermo. Programme and notes by Giovanni Lasi and Luigi Virgolin. Sunday 26 June 2011 at 17.00 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Grand piano: Antonio Coppola. Presentano Giovanni Lasi e Luigi Virgolin.

Catalogue: "The year 1911, the 50th anniversary of Italian Unification, was for Italy a year of national worship, and cinema marched enthusiastically in the parade, celebrating the pomp of the country’s splendors and claiming the onerous duty “to make Italians”."

"In fact, fifty years after Italy was declared unified, the heartfelt words of D’Azeglio were still relevant, considering the precarious, shaky national consciousness expressed by a large part of the population in the first decade of the 1900s. Promoting “Italianness” became a primary objective for the leaders of country, from the political establishment to the the cultural élite. And film too took up this battle with every weapon available, falling into line with the institutional communication strategy of looking at the past and the future, that used the grandeur of national history as a mirror of the equally glorious present, that depicted the universal nature of Italic culture as a valid passport for Italy’s definitive entrance among the leading world powers. In this climate of patriotic opulence Italian cinema ventured into the starry heights of Italian culture through the ages, taking on Dante (Inferno, Milano Films; Inferno, Helios Film; Purgatorio, Helios Film), Tasso (Gerusalemme liberata, Cines; Aminta, Helios), Manzoni (I promessi sposi, Film d’Arte Italiana) and gems of ancient history (Odissea, Milano Films; La caduta di Troia, Itala Film). In the celebratory fervor of 1911 patriotic subjects were clearly given priority. In fact, that year seven films about Risorgimento battles were made, including the magnificent Nozze d’oro (Ambrosio), winner of the first prize for the “artistic category” of the same festival in Turin."

"National pride on the screen also directly regarded the status of Italian film, which in 1911 boasted substantial growth in production, sales, form and style. In fact, an Italian school of filmmaking had begun to make a name for itself internationally with period films and comic serials: Cretinetti (André Deed), Tontolini (Ferdinand Guillaume), Robinet (Marcel Fabre), Cocciutelli (Eduardo Monthus). With the artistic and technical quality of longtime filmmakers such as Caserini, Maggi, Vitrotti, De Liguoro and emerging directors such as Guazzoni, Antamoro and Del Colle, Italian film could compete with the best foreign productions in terms of form and content, using cutting-edge stylistic solutions and venturing into new genres like the Danish “sensational” drama or the French detective serial, launched in Italy by Pasquali with the series about Raffles the gentleman thief."

"However, the maturity of the Italian film industry is best demonstrated by the speed with which most production companies in 1911 adapted to the feature length film: the 1000 meters of La Gerusalemme liberata (Cines), the 1200 of Inferno (Milano Films) or the 1350 of Pinocchio (Cines) were a mere harbinger of the multi-kilometer lengths that were to come with later films like Quo vadis? and Cabiria and of the decisive step towards world success that would come with the years to follow."

RAFFLES, GENTILUOMO LADRO. [the title on the print:] [Il diamante azzurro]. IT 1911. D: Ubaldo Maria Del Colle. Cast: Ubaldo Maria Del Colle, Cristina Ruspoli; P: Pasquali. 35 mm. 310 m. 15’ a 18 fps. Col. Didascalie italiane. From: CSC-Cineteca Nazionale, Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Cineteca di Bologna. Restored in 2011 at L‘Immagine Ritrovata laboratory from a tinted nitrate positive. - AA: Thriller. A kidnapping story around Raffles the amateur cracksman. An early but not the first film adaptation of the exploits of the character created by E.W. Hornung. The development of a photograph is a major piece of the action. Part black and white, part colour, with occasional signs of damage in the source.

VITA D’OLANDA. IT 1911 (?). D: Piero Marelli. P: Pasquali Film (?); Distr.: Tiziano Film. 35 mm. 135 m. 7’ a 18 fps. Col. Didascalie italiane. From: Museo Nazionale del Cinema. - AA: Non-fiction, travelogue. Beautiful sights, a fine sense of composition, refined lighting, faces, genre views inspired by Dutch masters. There is even an excellent three-part split screen vignette. Tinting and toning effects and multi-colour effects.

L’ASTUZIA DI ROBINET. [The title on the print:] Naukes List. IT 1911. Cast: Marcel Fabre; P: Ambrosio. 35 mm. 116 m. 5’ a 18 fps. B&w. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Cineteca del Friuli. - AA: Drama. The father of the bride challenges the groom to a duel. But the groom stages a hold-up in which he has the opportunity to play the hero. A fine sense of pantomime. The beautiful print does justice to the subtle cinematography.

NOZZE D’ORO [After Fifty Years / Golden Wedding]. IT 1911. D: Luigi Maggi. SC: Arrigo Frusta; DP: Angelo Scalenghe; Cast: Alberto Capozzi [grandfather], Mary Cléo Tarlarini [grandmother / the country girl], Luigi Maggi [the country girl's father], Mario Voller Buzzi, Giuseppe Gray, Paolo Azzurri, Oreste Grandi, Ernesto Vaser, Norina Rasero; P: Ambrosio. 35 mm. 455 m. 23’ a 18 fps. Col. Didascalie italiane. From: Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Restored in 2010 by Cinémathèque Cinémathèque de Toulouse, Cineteca di Bologna and Museo Nazionale del Cinema at L‘Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, from a nitrate positive colour print with didascalie italiane preserved by Cinémathèque de Toulouse, and – for the colour reconstruction - from two positive nitrate prints preserved by BFI National Archive and Lobster Films. The restoration has been carried out within a project by Museo Nazionale del Cinema aiming at preserving and promoting silent films awarded during the Esposizione Internazionale, which took place in Turin in 1911. - AA: Historical drama. On their golden wedding day the grandparents recollect their youth, seen in a flashback on Italy's Second War of Independence, in 1859. A young woman hides a young wounded Garibaldian soldier. The Austrians notice the blood stain on the woman's sleeve, but quickly behind her back she cuts her own arm to prove the blood is hers. This is the story of the grandparents. There is an epic feeling and a sense of the epoch in this short film. There is some beautiful pantomime, and instances of a fine use of the depth of field. The tinting feels sometimes a bit heavy in this meticulously restored version.

LE DUE INNAMORATE DI CRETINETTI / [The title on the print:] De vereering van Gribouille [or Gibrouille]. IT 1911. Cast: André Deed, Valentina Frascaroli; P: Itala Film. 35 mm. 184 m. 9’ a 18 fps. B&w. Nederlandse tussentitels. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: Comedy. Cretinetti falls into the trap of two wonderful women, who live next door to him, on both sides of his apartment. They challenge each other into a duel, and during it, all the pain and suffering is inflicted on Cretinetti. In the end Cretinetti loses both women to other, handsome suitors. A good Cretinetti comedy. A good print.

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