Cinema Ritrovato: Hudson, Bergman, Keaton – a feast of film under Italian skies

时间:2019-10-08 责任编辑:慕拮 来源:兴发娱乐平台 点击:82 次

“Technicolor is like God – it cannot be copied!” Nicola Mazzanti of the is introducing a screening of Douglas Sirk’s perfect melodrama (1955) and, in an unexpectedly exuberant speech, he promises the crowd in Bologna’s Cinema Arlecchino “a mystical experience”. This is a screening, not from a digital cinema package (DCP) or a re-release, but an original 35mm distribution print – vintage, authentic Technicolor. Mazzanti assures us that there will be scratches (“God, I love scratches!”) and that “if we are really lucky, the film will break, the house lights will come up, and you will be discovered entwined with your girlfriend, or your boyfriend”.

Well, we were luckier than that. The film did not break, and for 88 glorious minutes we watched Sirk’s classic as it had first been seen, with a vibrant, almost hallucinatory colour palette. Technicolor may not strictly be divine, but it is a specific chemical process, and reproductions do not quite do it justice. At the film’s climax, Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson were entwined, and the audience, revealed by the house lights, were simply agog.

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
A scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Photograph: Allstar/MGM

This is , a feast of film served once a year in this gorgeous Italian city that seems, itself, to have been printed in Technicolor – la città rossa under brilliant blue skies. Two thousand delegates visited the festival in 2015, cinema gourmands all, devouring a broad programme comprising 427 titles organised into 20-odd strands across eight days. The Arlecchino and Jolly movie houses, as well as the city’s rep cinema, the Lumière in the Piazzetta Pasolini, host the majority of the screenings during the day. And at night, rather bigger crowds fill the Piazza Maggiore for blockbuster screenings – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) on 70mm say, or Casablanca (1942), introduced by . For those who crave a really antique viewing experience, the aforementioned Piazzetta Pasolini is occasionally home to a carbon lantern projector spooling silent films of great beauty after sundown.

Renato Castellani’s Sotto il Sole di Roma (Under the Sun of Rome, 1948).

All this in the name of what at first appears to be pure gluttony, the enjoyment of great films, in vast quantities: Japan’s first colour films; retrospectives of directors Leo McCarey and Renato Castellani; early Armenian cinema; the non-Hollywood films of Ingrid Bergman; every extant episode of Louis Feuillade’s serial, screening daily at breakfast-time.

But has a serious purpose – this festival of “found cinema” showcases recognised classics and largely unseen works, which might have been thought lost, or have been overlooked or underappreciated. Possibly the remaining prints have been damaged, or exist only in formats that are increasingly hard to project. Therefore the screenings here use an eccentric mix of media, from 4k-digital restorations to unfashionable film formats.

Leo McCarey’s Liberty, starring Laurel and Hardy.

Cinema may be intangible: an attempt to capture light on celluloid, or increasingly, to calibrate it in pixels, to spin still images into the illusion of movement and then to repeat the trick – endlessly. But Il Cinema Ritrovato, you could say, throws the focus on to something more tangible: either celebrating the frailty of the antique film stock, or the quality of the lab work undertaken to restore a film to a clean digital simulacrum, easily distributable to festivals and rep cinemas worldwide. Perhaps this is a kind of fetishism, or indecision: the festival is perpetually split between praising uniqueness and facilitating wider distribution.

But Il Cinema Ritrovato is not only in the business of finding films, but of finding those aspects of films that may have been lost in translation: from Sirk’s queasily beautiful colour scheme to the additional scenes included in Castellani’s preferred edit of his prison melodrama Nella Città l’Inferno (1959), starring the incendiary Anna Magnani, to the rare chance to watch Kiss Me Kate (1953) in 3D, rather than flattened and shrunk on television.

Bitter … Ingrid Bergman in Europa ’51.

Gorging on cinema in Bologna, as I was lucky enough to do this year, involves impossible decisions and incredible voyages. With so many strands and multiple venues, choosing to see one film comes at the cost of missing three or four others; but conversely, you can follow the labyrinthine schedule on a choose-your-own adventure path through cinema history. Unsurprisingly for a Hollywood classic, the Casablanca screening in the piazza was thronged, but many of those assembled could claim a newly close relationship with its star Ingrid Bergman, who was the subject of an entire strand at the festival, including gems such as her Swedish film A Woman’s Face (En Kvinnas Ansikte, 1938) in which she plays a disfigured and bitter blackmailer, or Europa ’51 (1952) in which she was directed by her husband, . And the director of , was represented by a real treasure: a 1914 “peasant play” called A Tolonc (The Undesirable), from back when he was called Mihály Kertész and was making silent films in his native Hungary.

2015 marked the beginning of a new adventure for Bologna – the digital restoration and scoring of all of Buster Keaton’s silent features and shorts. is a massive undertaking that will continue over several years – with the fruits of its labours being aired at each edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato.

Intricately hilarious newlywed comedy … One Week.

This year, we started with a flourish, and a double bill of Keaton’s intricately hilarious newlywed comedy One Week (1920) and his acclaimed fantasy feature Sherlock Jr (1924), screening in the piazza with perfectly timed, sprightly scores by Timothy Brock. Standing at the back of the piazza, hearing the laughter of the crowd mingle with the music, I was witness to the power of comedy to stop traffic. Cyclists winding home from the city’s bars and restaurants would pause and dismount to get a better view of Keaton careering down a dusty track, perched on the handlebars of a runaway motorcycle.

Acclaimed fantasy feature … Sherlock Jr.

There are movie moments – such as the chase in Sherlock Jr – that repay endless repetition, as fresh each time as the last. Personal highlights of my week in Bologna included Jean Gabin playing a doomed dreamer in (1936); Anna Pavlova fomenting revolution in Lois Weber’s epic opera adaptation The Dumb Girl of Portici (1915-16); a luscious print of Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959), perfectly suited to the sweltering Italian heat; Charles Boyer wooing Irene Dunne in Leo McCarey’s Love Affair (1939) and the coolly captured cruelty of Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar (1965). A less well-known film, the (1931), starring Ambartsum Khachanian as a reluctant soldier, was invigoratingly attractive, funny and brutal.

Leo McCarey’s Love Affair (1939).

But some of the other films that were memorable for me at this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato offered more fleeting pleasures: the tight, San Francisco-set Woman on the Run (1950) did everything a film noir must do and no more, complete with a nightmarish fairground climax; Italian diva Valentina Frascaroli made for a haunting Jane Eyre in a sadly damaged print of Le Memorie di una Istitutrice (1917); and I enjoyed the shimmering Ruritanian bagatelle La Princesse aux Clowns (1924) far more than perhaps a grown adult should admit. Ramón Novarro’s handsome face shone in the incomplete remaining copy of Rex Ingram’s The Arab (1924), which combined gorgeous location shooting with dodgy sentiments, as far as the simultaneous translation of the Russian intertitles would allow me to understand.

Funny and brutal … Patvakan Barkhudaryan’s Armenian tragicomedy Kikos.


It is impossible to see everything this festival offers. The choices one must make are, therefore, enjoyably agonising, and a visit to Il Cinema Ritrovato isn’t about ticking must-see titles off your cinematic bucket list. Rather, it opens up more and more possibilities of what film is, what the cinema can offer. Every time you enter the dark of the auditorium from the sun-bleached Italian streets, you might just chance on a mystical experience.

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