Sunday, June 26, 2011

Searching for Colour in Films: Programme 2: Heaven and Hell, Fire and Ice - including L'inferno (1911) (digitally restored in 2011 by Cineteca di Bologna)

Alla ricerca del colore dei film: Programma 2: Cielo ed inferno, fuoco e ghiaccio. Sunday, 26 June 2011 at 11.00, Cinema Jolly (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato).

Catalogue: "Some years ago the Filmarchiv Austria showed a programme of early films under the beautiful title “Elemental Cinema”. And in truth this medium, film, was made for portraying heaven and hell, reality and fantasy, fire and snow – and it is the only one that is any match for a firework display. In all this, colour is the crucial element." (ML)

Inferno: A “Colossal” Film

"On March 1, 1911, the first public screening of Inferno was held at the Mercadante Theater in Naples. The enthusiasm for the film adaptation of the first cantica of the Divine Comedy was unanimous, and shared by the distinguished writers and intellectuals present at the screening, including Benedetto Croce, Roberto Bracco and Matilde Serao."

"Inferno, made for Milano Films by the trio Padovan, Bertolini and De Liguoro, marked an important step in the cultural legitimization of film, a process that had begun several years before with major production companies and had been accelerated by the foundation of the French Film d’Art in 1908 and, one year later, its Italian “sister” F.A.I."

"The production of the film took almost two years and the cost rose to an unprecedented amount of money: at the time there was talk of the astronomical sum of one million lire. The final result, however, exceeded every expectation: Dante’s Inferno materialized on the screen, and Matilde Serao immediately compared the film to the work of the most celebrated illustrator of Dante, Gustave Doré, an iconographic point of reference for the Inferno filmmakers. The skill demonstrated by the film’s formal construction and the philological rigor of the poem’s transposition are owed to one of the three filmmakers involved, Aldolfo Padovan, an eminent Dante scholar and collaborator with the renowned publishing company Hoepli. The cultural value of the film is demonstrated by the immediate interest of the Societa Dante Alighieri, the distinguished association founded for the purpose of promoting the Italian language and literature. It gave support to the film by sponsoring and organizing luxurious “premieres” in the most famous Italian theaters."

"Brilliantly launched by the distributor Gustavo Lombardo with a vast promotional campaign, Inferno was an extraordinary commercial success not only in Italy but also abroad; the successful distribution in the United States was unparelleled for an Italian film." Giovanni Lasi.

LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE. FR 1912. di Georges Méliès (14'). The 2011 Lobster Films restoration. DCP 2K. Music recorded on soundtrack: AIR. [English subtitles on the DCP.] - AA: screened yesterday on the Piazza Maggiore with the symphony orchestra playing Offenbach, there was now the screening of Le Voyage dans la lune with the recorded soundtrack by AIR, the French electropop duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. There are some good moments on the track, but at home I would rather turn the sound off.

[¿ERUPTION VOLCANIQUE À LA MARTINIQUE. FR 1902. D: Georges Méliès. 35 mm. 2’ a 16 fps. Pochoir. From: Filmoteca de Catalunya, Österreichisches Filmmuseum.?] - ¿Or was this La Catastrophe de la Martinique. FR 1902. D: Ferdinand Zecca.? - AA: A wonderful multi-colour stencil colour print with red, sepia, blue, and green effects. The 2011 print from Torino / L'Immagine Ritrovata.

[FESTA PIROTECNICA NEL CIELO DI LONDRA]. GB 1911. P: Urban (?). 35 mm. 80 m. 5’ a 16 fps. Pochoir, tinted. Didascalie italiane. From: Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Digitally preserved in 2011 by L‘Immagine Ritrovata laboratory from a tinted and handcoloured nitrate positive held by Museo Nazionale del Cinema. - AA: A strong colour-driven film with bold yellow, red, blue, and green colours, close to abstract experimental film. This was deservedly repeated later during the week on the Piazza Maggiore.

L’INFERNO. IT 1911. D: Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, Giuseppe De Liguoro. SC: based on the first cantica of Divina Commedia (1321) by Dante Alighieri; DP: Emilio Roncarolo; PD: Sandro Properzi, Francesco Bertolini; Co.: Raffaele Caravaglios; Cast: Salvatore Papa (Dante Alighieri), Arturo Pirovano (Virgilio), Giuseppe De Liguoro (Farinata / Pier Delle Vigne / Conte Ugolino), Attilio Motta, Emilise Beretta, A. Milla (Lucifero). P: Milano Films. DigiBeta. 66’. Tinted. Didascalie italiane. [No translation of the Dante poem.]. From: Cineteca di Bologna. Digitally restored in 2011 [or 2007?] at L‘Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. Musica elettroacustica con voci e suoni d‘ambiente composta da Edison Studio [with Marco Dalpane on the grand piano]. [Presenta Alessandro Cipriani]. - AA: The title card of the film is: La Divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri: Inferno. - The film is based on the first cantica of the Divine Comedy like many later film adaptations. More specifically, the film is based on the Gustave Doré illustrations to Dante's epic poem. The intertitles are from Dante. "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate!" - Dante's first cantica is turned into a magnificent, refined spectacle, with shades of kitsch, and lots of tasteful nudity. In this respect this film is still the model for all subsequent adaptations, even including Greenaway's TV Dante. This is a film of impressive views. The music track is tiresome. The new restoration seems excellent.

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