Saturday, July 02, 2011

America America (2011 Warner Bros. restoration)

US © 1963 Athena Enterprises Corporation. D: Elia Kazan . T. it.: America America – Il ribelle dell’Anatolia; Based on the novel by Elia Kazan and on a story by Hamal; SC: Elia Kazan; DP: Haskell Wexler; Op.: Harlowe Stengel; ED: Dede Allen; PD: Vassilis Photopoulos; Co.: Anna Hill Johnstone; M: Manos Hatzidakis; S: Edward Beyer, Jack Fitzstephens, Richard Vorisek; Cast: Stathis Giallelis (Stavros Topouzoglou), Frank Wolff (Vartan Damadian), Harry Davis (Isaac Topouzoglou), Elena Karam (Vasso Topouzoglou), Estelle Hemsley (nonna Topouzoglou), Gregory Rozakis (Hohanness Gardashian), Lou Antonio (Abdul), Salem Ludwig (Odysseus Topouzoglou), John Marley (Garabet), Joanna Frank (Vartuhi), Linda Marsh (Thomna Sinnikoglou); P: Elia Kazan per Warner Bros; Pri. pro.: dicembre 1963. 35 mm. 174’. B&w. English version. From: Warner Bros. Preserved by Warner Bros with funding provided by The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Saturday 2 July 2011 at 22.00, Piazza Maggiore (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Presented by Fatih Akin, Margaret Bodde and Stathis Giallelis introduced by Gian Luca Farinelli and Peter von Bagh.

Catalogue: "Neither my father nor my mother liked the idea of this picture. Unvoiced, uneasy recollections of the Turks, I suspect, made them feel the whole subject was better left alone. When I planned my first trip to do research, they were apprehensive. Greece? All right, but why Turkey? I offered to take my parents with me for a visit. I had the feeling that my father should be spending his last years back there, under an olive tree, watching the harbors, drinking raki. He had no such notion. “What’s the matter with New Rochelle?” he demanded. “We stay here”, said my mother.""

"I visited the massive, terrible – and beautiful – city of Istanbul, where porters, called hamals, still work as beasts of burden. I went to where my father was born, in the shadow of the snowcapped Mount Aergius. Smells, sounds, a way of life half-remembered from my infancy, seemed to me idyllic. (…) I tried to make the film like a legend. That’s why Stavros and Vartan are on a mountain cutting ice. The ‘clean’ mountain was a symbol of their aspirations. Ice is a clean thing; snowfall is a clean thing. All of this contrasts with the hot, dirty, fifteenth – or sixteenth-century town below where the Turks not only oppressing the Armenians and Greeks, they were oppressing their fellow countrymen. (…) I used to say to myself when I was making the film that America was a dream of total freedom in all areas. I made two points about that. One was that America had a responsibility to the dream: the dream has a responsibility to the dreamer. And furthermore, what these people availed themselves of when they got here, what they turned the dream into, was the freedon to make money. Money became their weapon; it was the symbol of strenght. (Elia Kazan: Kazan on Directing, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2009).""

I watched just the introductions and the first half an hour about the persecution of the Armenians from this magnificent film (see my America America entry of 1998). The Finnish print I know does justice to Haskell Wexler's brilliant cinematography. The new 2011 Warner Bros. restoration looks fine on the piazza, but it is impossible to give a fair evaluation of it in the piazza circumstances.

A powerful ending to yet another great edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato. There are a few hours to sleep and to pack, and then there's an early morning flight back home via Amsterdam.

No comments: