Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Le acque miracolose / [Miracle Waters]

(De wonderbronnen) (Ambrosio, IT 1914) D: Eleuterio Rodolfi; SC: Arrigo Frusta; cast: Eleuterio Rodolfi, Gigetta Morano; orig.: 227 m; 35 mm, 194 m, 10' (16 fps); from: EYE Film Institute Netherlands, Amsterdam (Desmet Collection). Nederlandse tussentitels. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin, 4 Oct 2011.

Ivo Blom (GCM Catalogue): "Along with comical, action-based films revolving around one popular character, Italy also produced vaudeville-like comedies, such as those of the Ambrosio company featuring Gigetta Morano, Eleuterio Rodolfi, and Camillo De Riso, often involving love triangles and adultery. Creating a mood more suited to a smile or a chuckle rather than peals of laughter, these films used a more restrained kind of humour, comparable to the Gaumont comedies by Léonce Perret. Often there is an element of voyeuristic complicity which is shared with the spectator, making us an accomplice. Action is less important than “the situation”, the misunderstanding, the interchange. Within this framework, these comedies are closer to the narratives of the dramatic features of the 1910s, designated and analysed as “situational” by Brewster and Jacobs."

"Le acque miracolose [The miraculous waters] is a spicy example. The film opens with a kind of living doll-house, revealing a childless man who dreams of having a swarm of children, just like his neighbours. The family doctor (Rodolfi) suggests that the man’s wife (Morano) should visit a miraculous well. At the spa she meets none other than the doctor … after which the husband becomes the father of twins. The film ends with the father holding the babies, while his wife lifts a jug in which we see a miniature image of a doctor. Along the lines of similar comedies such as Una tragedia al cinematografo (Cines, 1913), adultery is explicitly displayed and sanctioned." – Ivo Blom

AA: A comedy. Many surprises, including the opening shot, a cross-section of a house, where we see the life of four families simultaneously (qf. Ladies' Man, Rear Window, Dom na Trubnaya). This is a film about generosity. The husband sends his wife to the miraculous waters, where the family doctor sees to it that she will get babies. The conclusion: after the birth of the twins the mother smiles at us lifting the jug with the miniature of the life-giving doctor in it. Words like adultery seem old-fashioned in the context of this movie. This is a film about love and happiness and unconventional ways in which they can be achieved.

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