Francesca Bertini

La Signora delle camelie
R: Gustavo Serena. B: Renzo Chiosso nach dem Roman “La Dame aux Camélias” von Alexandre Dumas fils. 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.”