Wednesday, June 12, 2024

La spiaggia / The Boarder (2021 Bologna restoration)

Alberto Lattuada: La spiaggia / The Boarder (IT/FR 1954). On a Ligurian beach in Pontorno, the single mother Anna Maria Mentorsi (Martine Carol) meets the adventuress Marini (Mara Berni). I love the hairy armpit.

Kuuma rannikko / Gatflickan i societeten.
DIRECTOR: Alberto Lattuada
COUNTRY: Italy, France
YEAR: 1954
DURATION: 102 min
LANGUAGES: Italian, subtitled in English
CATEGORY: Master Classes and Special Presentations, Olaf Möller, Subtitles in English
Introduced by Olaf Möller.
Viewed at Lapinsuu, Sodankylä, Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF), 12 June 2024

Olaf Möller (MSFF 2024): " One of the most famous quotes about Italian postwar cinema comes from Giulio Andreotti, who as a vice-minister in one of the eight De Gasperi governments likened Neorealism to the washing of dirty laundry in public. The cinema of this era, thus, should be a clean one that only showed an unspoiled, spotless, unsullied, pristine if not outright immaculate image of Italy. But what does that mean? Alberto Lattuada was one of the most stylish and refined masters of the era, whose films were always perfectly crafted and radiant with beauty – while often talking about all the unsavory things to be found in the so spotless-seeming world, especially of the gente per bene. Which makes The Boarder something of a reflection on the period, its morals: Here, a high-class sex worker goes on holiday with her young daughter, gets seen by one of her clients whose loose lips soon have everybody whispering in nasty tones about the poor woman. "

" What becomes visible, even when seemingly good deeds get done, is a world made of little more than hypocrisy, a mere façade, a chillingly silly charade. This fits well with one technical aspect of The Boarder: It was one of the very first Italian color films; the technology, especially in its Ferraniacolor-variety here, stresses the artificiality of the world we get to see… The Boarder might look harmless, but it’s a bottomless pit. " Olaf Möller

AA: Alberto Lattuada visited Sodankylä in 1991, but La spiaggia was not screened back then. Now we were offered a reconstructed and restored version (2021) of the film that suffered censorship cuts during its initial release. 

La spiaggia is a cynical caricature about hypocrisy in Italy during its postwar economical boom. Anna Maria Mentorsi (Martine Carol) is taking a Liguria vacation with her little daughter Caterina (Anna Gabriella Pisani) in the town of Pontorno. Believed to be a respectable widow, Anna Maria is initially accepted by high society, but when her profession in Milan is exposed, everyone turns their backs on them, even children. 

The mayor Silvio (Raf Vallone) does his best to help, but he fails to find cooperation. Deus ex machina: the billionaire Chiastrino (Carlo Bianco) takes Anna Maria in his protection with no strings attached. His satisfaction is to see the instant turnabout in everybody's attitudes towards Anna Maria and Caterina. Money talks.

When Milanese men recognize Anna Maria they start to suggest dates. I was thinking about Woody Allen's To Rome with Love and its references to Italian films. Might Anna (Penélope Cruz) be an homage to Anna Maria in La spiaggia?

The restoration and reconstruction looks clean, stable and smooth in the DCP presentation. I am not a Ferraniacolor expert, and I have no Ferraniacolor sense. In this presentation the colour impact is consistent, and there is a soft blur, no clear outlines. I have just been meditating the 150th anniversary of Impressionism, and in the colour world of La spiaggia there is some affinity with post-impressionist painting such as La Grande Jatte by Seurat, but in lower definition.

No comments: