Monday, July 01, 2013

Ma l'amore mio non muore! / [But My Love Will Never Die!] (1913) (2013 restoration)


Love Everlasting [the title on the DCP]. IT 1913. D: Mario Caserini. Sog.: Emiliano Bonetti. DP: Angelo Scalenghe. C: Lyda Borelli (Elsa Holbein), Mario Bonnard (principe Maximilian di Wallenstein), Camillo de Riso (l'impresario Schaudard), Maria Caserini (Gran duchessa di Wallenstein), Gianpaolo Rosmino (Moise Stahr). P: Film Artistica "Gloria". 2K DCP. 80'. B&w. Accompagnamento al piano di Francesca Badalini. Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), 1 July 2013

Da: Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, Museo Nazionale del Cinema e Fondazione Cineteca Italiana
Restored in 2013 at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory

Ivo Blom: "In 1913, Lyda Borelli had reached the apex of her theatrical career. Performing in Italy's most famous theatres, she appeared in plays by Victorien Sardou, Henry Bataille, Georges Ohnet, the very repertory that would soon become the backbone of diva cinema. Borelli's most acclaimed performance was in Oscar Wilde's Salome, which had its Italian premiere at the Teatro Valle on 10 March 1909. In her Salome costume, Borelli was portrayed by painter Cesare Tallone and in a photographic series by Emilio Sommariva: popularized by postcards, these representations of Borelli's theatrical career fueled the public imagination and showed decisive for the construction of her iconic image in her first feature, Ma l'amor mio non muore!. Produced by the Turin-based company Gloria Film and directed by Mario Caserini, the film was specifically written for her. While the plot deals with espionage and love, the second part is set in a world very close to Borelli - the stage. Her two successful performances, Zazà and Salome, reappear here. In a scene set on stage, Borelli acts as though she is dying, but this, in effect, is a doubling since her character has actually poisoned herself. Her princely lover is her political rival, so she cannot have him. The prince runs on stage when he notices that this is no mere performance. She dies in his hands like Violetta dying in the hands of Alfredo in La Traviata or, more broadly, repeating the 'inimitable life and death' promoted by D'Annunzio. Ma l'amor mio non muore! was an international success and turned Borelli into a film star. It also started a new phenomenon: the Italian diva-film. But this phenomenon didn't come out of the blue; it incorporates the legacy of the pictorial, photographic and theatrical culture of the Italian early twentieth century." Ivo Blom

After an espionage scandal the daughter Elsa Holbein (Lyda Borelli) becomes a great diva (singer, pianist, actress), but for the love of a noble prince she leaves the theatre. Due to evil rumours of Moise Stahr (who had already ruined her father's life with his machinations) the romance is ruined, and when the Grand Duke orders his son home, Elsa must leave the man she loves, broken hearted. Elsa returns to the theatre, but having taken poison she dies on the stage and whispers her last words to the prince who has never stopped loving her: "But my love will never die!"

Directed in early cinema mode with long takes and long shots. The speed is very slow, too, (even slowed down?), giving it all a feeling of a solemn ritual. There are many splendid shots: of the theatre, and of the romance on a yacht.

In Lyda Borelli's performance the emphasis is not on beauty. She has a striking face, and in this tragic role mourning, melancholia, disappointment, and emptiness are dominant feelings.

The restoration looks splendid, with a lot of fine detail in the grayscale of the deep focus compositions where the persons sometimes appear on a tiny area on the upper corner of the magnificent sets.

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