Francesca Bertini

637-francesca bertini

La terra promessa
R: Baldassarre Negroni. D: Francesca Bertini, Alberto Collo, Emilio Ghione. P: Celio Film. It 1913 (Frgm., 1. act)
Dutch titles

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“The first time we see Francesca Bertini, she is a piano teacher, just like Asta Nielsen in The Abyss (Afgrunden). (…) For the moral standards of those days and in the eyes of the censorship board, La terra promessa was a daring film because it states that an unmarried woman is entitled to have a relationship with more than one man. (…) Asta Nielsen’s influence is undeniable: Magda (in The Abyss) not only lives alone, but she replaces one man with another, even though she chooses badly in doing so. In other words, while the diva film usually features a man with two women, Bertini followed Asta’s example by choosing several plots in which one woman has two men. (…) This is perhaps why the film, at least abroad, was retitled Ore e cuore, to show that the times were mature enough, as far as the perception of women was concerned, for a happy ending rather than some kind of public or private loss, as happens in The Abyss. (…) Betty can come across as a foreign-born, hence more emancipated, woman. Such a controversial role confirmed the risks Bertini was willing to take with her professional and public reputation. Even if the names of the characters were English, the audience knew that the players were Italian.”
Angela Dalle Vacche: Diva: Defiance and Passion in Early Italian Cinema. University of Texas Press 2008, p. 161

La Signora delle camelie
R: Gustavo Serena. B: Renzo Chiosso / Alexandre Dumas fils (novel “La Dame aux Camélias”. D: Francesca Bertini, Carlo Benetti, Olga Benetti. P: Caesar Film. It 1915/1916
Print: Il Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino

“Born in Florence, she was daughter of a comic theatre actress. Bertini began performing on stages as a child, particularly in Naples, where her family was settled. In 1904, at the age of 16, she moved to Rome, where she improved her acting skills, especially on theatre stages, and attempted to perform in the just-born Italian movie production.
Her first important movie, Histoire d’un pierrot, was under the direction of Baldassarre Negroni in 1913. Gradually she developed her beauty and elegance, plus a strong, intense, and charming personality, which would be the key of her success as a silent movie actress. With Assunta Spina in 1915 she took care of the scripts as well as performing the role of the main character. Bertini was popular internationally, her sophistication emulated around the world by women moviegoers. Reputedly, in 1915 she earned $175,000—a record for the time; Mary Pickford wouldn’t catch up until the following year. She developed the current acting techniques of movie actresses by making it more sober, banning broad gestures or the mincing ways of the Diva. She is one of the first film actresses to focus on reality, rather than on a dramatic stereotype, an anticipation of Neorealistic canons. The expression of authentic feelings was the key of her success through many films. She could perform with success the languid decadent heroine as well as the popular common woman. Other important roles were Odette, Fedora, Tosca and the Lady of the Camellias.”

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